Living With a Bipolar Cat: Crazy Kitties & How They Got That Way

One minute your fur baby is happy as a clam and the next she’s climbing the curtains. Your crazy kitty may be all over the place, but that doesn’t mean you have a bipolar cat.

It may mean you should take a look at the crazy cat lady in the mirror though.

According to a study in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, cats can develop personality traits similar to their pet parents. Monkey see, monkey, do.

Or, in this case, kitty see, kitty do.

PrettyLitter bipolar cat cat crazies

Your cat’s neurotic behavior could be a sign of something going on in your fur baby’s brain or it could just be time for you to reflect on your own odd ways.

Do You Have a Bipolar Cat?

Cats are notoriously moody. Your feline can go from playful cuddles to sullen glances in no time. But just because she’s temperamental and neurotic doesn’t mean she’s bipolar.

According to the Mayo Clinic, bipolar disorder in humans is a serious mental health condition characterized by dramatic swings between states of depression and states of elation or mania.

While it makes sense to try and define our fur baby’s crazy behaviors in terms that we use for our own human mental health, a bipolar cat isn't common or easily diagnosed — especially given how fickle most felines tend to be in general.

Your cat's odd behavior doesn’t mean that your kitty can’t be like you, though. In fact, the longer you live with your cat, the more like you they become. Excessive grooming, anyone?

Is Your Kitty Copying You?

Our fur babies are apart of our families. Our cat kids even adapt their lifestyles and personality traits to match their pet parents. They just don’t want us to know how cool they think we are. Typical.

Cats learn where we put the food and litter box, when we plan to feed them, and even how to open the cabinets we leave slightly open – sneaky felines.

The author of the previously mentioned study in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior said, "cats' food intake is associated with that of owners, perhaps explaining why human and cat obesity rates seem to match so often. Cats may even match their elimination patterns with those of their owners.”

In other words, cats often mirror their owners' behavior, which can lead to some entertaining results. Who doesn’t want a little company in the bathroom?

According to another study in Applied Animal Behavior Science (AABS), many kitty traits such as being arrogant, social, aggressive, calm, timid, excitable, dominant, and curious are true in their humans, as well.

The researchers at AABS believe the environment in which a cat lives is a possible explanation for the variety of behaviors in domestic cats.

Think about that the next time you find your cat throwing judgmental looks at the new neighbors.

Why Else Would My Cat Be Acting Crazy?

Matching your weirdness isn’t the only reason your cat could seem a little neurotic. There're some medical conditions for pet parents to be aware of when monitoring their fur babies’ crazy antics.

Thyroid Problems

Feline hyperthyroidism is a disorder that results from excessive thyroid hormones. Among its many symptoms are anxiety and nervousness.

Cognitive Dysfunction

Older fur babies — especially those over 10 years old — can begin to experience cognitive dysfunction or problems relating to their brain aging.

According to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, signs include:

  • Spatial disorientation
  • Wandering away from home into unfamiliar territory
  • Lack of interest in playing
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Altered cycles of sleep and wakefulness
  • Long periods of staring blankly into space or at walls
  • Indifference to food and water; urinating and defecating outside the litter box
  • Seemingly unprompted episodes of loud vocalizing

These signs can also point to a neurological disorder, so talk to your vet if you have concerns or questions.

Anxiety, Depression & OCD

While having a bipolar cat is uncommon, felines can experience mental health issues including anxiety, depression, and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

PrettyLitter bipolar cat cat crazies

Your cat may even develop anxiety or depression as a result of you suffering from the condition. Cats can sense when their pet parents are nervous or sad. They interpret this as a sign that something is wrong, so they too may become anxious or depressed.

What Is Normal Anyway?

Just as in pet parents, our fur babies have a wide spectrum of what we consider “normal.” No two cats are exactly alike. They each have their own weird quirks — which inevitably makes them more lovable.

Also, some traits we may view as neurotic in humans are actually quite common for our feline friends.

For instance, when your kitty scratches up your favorite piece of furniture or chews on the houseplants, it's not because she's trying to be vindictive or drive you nuts. She's simply following her natural inclinations as a feline.

Unfortunately, some of those natural needs are a bit destructive and disruptive to our homes and may seem...well...crazy!

Do you have a crazy cat in your home? Tell us about her in the comments below!




Rai Cornell
Rai Cornell

Author



22 Responses

Rai Cornell
Rai Cornell

June 18, 2019

@Carol – Cats often release stress and tension through aggressive behavior, so it sounds like you’re right on track in thinking your fur baby may be stressed. Unusual aggression could be a sign of anxiety, too. Check out our article about Cat Stress and possible treatment options. It may reveal some possible causes and solutions to your kitty troubles.

https://prettylittercats.com/blogs/prettylitter-blog/how-stress-affects-your-cat-s-health-1
Rai Cornell
Rai Cornell

June 18, 2019

@Vicki – You might want to check out our blog that talks all about cat bites and what they mean. It could mean that your cat is experiencing stress, is under-stimulated, or something else. Our article may help you figure out what’s going on with Rocket.

https://prettylittercats.com/blogs/prettylitter-blog/cat-bites

Rai Cornell
Rai Cornell

June 18, 2019

@Kate – Traveling can be stressful on our kitties so making them as comfortable as possible will give you and her some peace of mind.

Check out our blog about traveling with a cat and tips to make the ride smoother.

https://prettylittercats.com/blogs/prettylitter-blog/making-travel-easy-on-your-cat-this-holiday-season

Safe travels!

Rai Cornell
Rai Cornell

June 18, 2019

@Michael – It sounds like your cat may have OCD tendencies.

Our blog about symptoms of cat anxiety and OCD might help you understand what it means and how to reduce your cat’s anxiety.

https://prettylittercats.com/blogs/prettylitter-blog/cat-anxiety-ocd-kitty-behavior-a-pet-parents-guide

Be sure to let us know if any of these tips work for your fur baby or if you need additional support. :)

Rai Cornell
Rai Cornell

June 18, 2019

@MRSand – I’m so sorry to hear you and your kitty are going through such tough times! You mentioned that you were going to take Neko to the vet the day after you posted your comment. I’d love to hear how that appointment went and if your vet was able to help you find a solution. Wishing you and Neko well!

Rai Cornell
Rai Cornell

June 18, 2019

@Dylan – It could possibly be cat OCD. Sometimes cat OCD is caused by anxiety or acts as a coping mechanism for our kitties.

Your cat may be stressed out.

Our blog about cat stress could provide insight into what it is and help you figure out the best treatment for your fur-baby.

https://prettylittercats.com/blogs/prettylitter-blog/how-stress-affects-your-cat-s-health-1

Maureen O
Maureen O

June 18, 2019

Dylan O brien: Joint custody may help kitty

MrSand: Catnip and outdoor time ? Supervised or on a leash.

Carol Ferguson
Carol Ferguson

June 11, 2019

Rescued a 14 week Tortie with a broken leg. She was created for the first 2 months with outside exercise therapy sessions. She is now 8 months but from day one has shown aggressive behavior toward my other very placid 4 year calico cat. Harassing, wrestling her. Bought a Thunder Calming Diffuser but no noticeable change. My calico is stressed & now suffering with a minor UTI. Suggestions?

Monique Ellis
Monique Ellis

June 11, 2019

My fur baby just turned a year old & I though some of his bad habits would change. He bites me until he draws blood & still scratches me. He’s usually not loving or cuddly. When he’s mean his eyes are totally black. When he’s sweet they are beautiful. The vet said he’ll outgrow it.

Mitzi Lee
Mitzi Lee

June 11, 2019

I have a cat that was rescued from the woods and he is usually calm and lays on the floor “like a rug” behind me in what ever room I am in, then all of a sudden he will run and climb up shelves, counters, anything he can get up on. Also, when I walk by him barefooted, he will just stick his paw out and scratch me for no reason. Otherwise he is very sweet and loving.

Susan Anderson
Susan Anderson

June 11, 2019

This is for Marge — my cat does that, too. He also does his business in the litter box and then scratches at the other end of the box. I finally figured out that in both cases, he’s trying to cover up either his food or his “business” — he just kind of misses the mark. I’ve learned that when he scratches on the wall by his dish, he’s happy if I pick it up and put it away. He’ll come and ask for it when he wants more food.

Michael  Grattan
Michael Grattan

June 07, 2019

We have a young cat who should be well past his tail chasing days, but he does it whenever he’s “bored” and even will bite his tail when he catches it. He’s actually injuring himself and has scabs on his tail, and he leaves streaks of blood on the floor after a particularly aggressive chasing session. When we catch him, we try to distract him with toys, but he’ll go right back to it later. Any suggestions?

Kate Driesen
Kate Driesen

June 07, 2019

We were lucky enough to pick a shelter kitten, Sunshine, who I believe is smarter at times than we are in the family.

Sunshine is not really cozy but will jump in my lap only, leaving my husband without a cuddle. Except at bedtime, she checks to make sure we are in bed, walking across the pillows or whatever is convenient for her. She starts whining when it gets
close to eating time. She will not let me or anyone clip her nails except our daughter who lives in London.
We will be moving across the country and I am concerned about her being in a carry on bag for six hours or so. Any suggestions?

Vicki
Vicki

June 07, 2019

Rocket Fast rescue kitten is a year and and a half. We are 3 rescue cats and 2 rescue dogs. Named Rocket because because the Manager found him in the car wash itself and suspected it fell off from under the car. Was an adorable kitchen and actually gets along with our other animals. He’ll be sitting quietly with me and jump up and bite the heck of me. Or if I’m walking thru the house he’ll jump on me leg and bite. I can’t even wear shorts or dresses because my legs look horrible. He is Bipolar – has to be! Any suggestions?

Diana Clark
Diana Clark

June 07, 2019

My cat Georgia is almost 2 and she literally jumps around like a kangaroo and likes to stand on her back paws. Will climb to the top of our artificial trees in the house thus breaking many leaves off but she is very entertaining!

Marge
Marge

June 07, 2019

My one car will paw at the wall above her dish, when I’ve just fed her. She’ll also go over to her brother’s dish & do the same thing. She paws @ his placemat too.

Kimberly Carlisle
Kimberly Carlisle

June 07, 2019

My cat will be 28 in August. She has started meowing really loud and sometimes howling. I took her to the vet and she’s okay. It was comforting to read in your article that’s normal for getting old. Thank you. ❤️🐾🐱🐾❤️

Laurie
Laurie

June 07, 2019

I laughed when I read the line “excessive grooming anyone?” because I noticed the other day that my cat sits on the bathroom counter in front of the mirror to groom herself. She also likes the water running. I think that is her version of a shower since she doesn’t actually see how the shower works, she just knows water is running.

MRSand
MRSand

June 11, 2019

I have a male cat that was brought to me in the Fall at 7 months he looked like he was 3 months old and he was born feral. He quickly adjusted to my two miniature poodles, but after a few months wanted to go outside. I had lost a cat previously to a raccoon so that was not an option. In the spring he started wanting to go out again, and he also started getting bald spots that would fester and weep, then scab over. The vet had no idea what was wrong, and it eventually cleared up in the Fall. In December my son came to visit and took my cat, Neko home with him as his place was larger than mine and he had two other cats. Neko got along fine with the male but was constantly trying to get aggressive with the female, as he could sense she was the weakest. My son kept rotating cats so they would never be together, which seemed to be working out fine Spring came and so did the bald spots and sores, he took Neko to three Cat Specialists over a 2 year period and they had no idea what was wrong, and every drug they gave him was for naught. I moved back from out of state and we bought a house together and I brought an 8-day old kitten that was born in my garage that had been abandoned with me. So we now have for cats! I arrived in early April and on the 15th we noticed the spots were starting, took him to my old vet and he thought it was an allergic reaction to pollen and gave him a shot, it didn’t do anything and again my guy spent an agonizing summer. This year in mid-winter I started looking for an excellent vet that does nothing but work with allergic cats. I had to wait until the first symptoms occurred before the vet would see him. Lo and behold it is now June and Neko has not one bald spot or lesion on his body. I have decided that stress caused all of his bald spots and sores. He is a nervous cat, to begin with, he has no problem with the other two males in the house and the female is rather crippled so stays mostly in my sons’ office or bedroom. Neko now has a new habit that I do not know how to handle and have no idea what causes it. He will go into the litter box, stand it and usually urinate over the top. This is not a standard litter box, it is an oval laundry basket and is large, we have two of them, the other two boxes he has access to are also high edged and he will do his hardest to urinate over the top of them plus he refuses to cover up his excrement! My baby cat goes in after him and covers it up. He did not do either of these obnoxious habits when he lived with me, I had an electric constantly rotating litter box so the dogs couldn’t have any extra hors d’oeuvres! I clean the four litter boxes for the three cats daily without fail. I do not want to put him on anti-depressants as I had to do that with one of my Cornish Rex’s and all she did was sleep and they had to keep upping the dose, her quality of life was awful and I finally decided to send her to the rainbow bridge. I never want to have to do this again, but I am at my wits end with Neko. Tomorrow he is going to my vet and see if he has a thyroid problem or a UTI if anyone knows what I can try to do I will be very appreciative. He is a great cat and is one of the more loving cats that I have owned in my life and he will play fetch with me for hours.
Lucy
Lucy

June 07, 2019

Our cat , almost two yrs old and a rescue kitty, goes bananas at night. I call what he does “acting squirrelly”. He will bite and scratch us as well as speed around the room. If it’s too much, I’ll spray “At Ease” from PetSmart around the room. Calms him right down. He’s the only pet, and my SO will not allow another pet in the house. Btw, I play with him in the morning and at night.

Dylan O'Brien
Dylan O'Brien

June 07, 2019

After a single 2 day bout of diarihhea my baby boy wont keep livking his bum to the point of causing wounds…. put a cone on him and have been in many pic consultations with vet, no infection but seems OCD disorder…. kicked the wife out and he seems effected…. any non drug suggestions… he’s getting better but afraid the cone comes off and its back to licking sores on his bum… :( :( :( Thank you all !!!!!!!!!!

Patricia Kelley
Patricia Kelley

June 07, 2019

My kitten Miss Mary loves aluminium foil rolled up in balls to play catch with her. She starts first thing inn the morning. Then again right before bed. Let’s just say we both get our exercise. She comes up to me pats my arm to play. To cute!!! Love love her!!!

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