More often than not, cats suffer from a lack of stimulation. While cats are typically very social animals with their families, they often are a little weary of strangers and can become pretty stressed out if too many guests are over. Sometimes owners spend a little too much time playing with their cats as well. There are a variety of causes for overstimulation in cats, but it’s generally going to cause some issues in the long-run. How can you tell if your cat is overstimulated? Consider these signs.
#1 – Hyperactivity
A bored cat and an overstimulated cat often look the same, believe it or not. In fact, hyperactivity is a sure sign that your cat might be experiencing sensory overload. Many cats will start behaving somewhat erratically, running around and chewing or biting things they don’t normally show any interest in. It’s true that some cats just get really happy and excited from time to time (you know, when your kitty decides 3:00am is the best time to zoom up and down the hallway), but if your feline constantly behaves this way you might want to consider toning down the stimuli.
#2 – Hiding
If your cat isn’t the social type, you might find that they are seeking somewhere to be alone when you have guests over. For example, your cat might try and hide in your room or under a bed when you’re having a dinner party rather than sit by the table and beg for scraps. Cats will look for comfort when they are overstimulated and should be allowed somewhere to feel safe and secure away from the excitement. If you notice your dog hiding in a room or closet away from everyone, don’t try to coax them out. Just let them be.
#3 – Biting & Scratching
This can come from two main places. First, an overstimulated cat that is fearful and has nowhere to hide will often resort to aggression to keep people away. Your cat might not normally be aggressive, but if they feel overwhelmed and see no way to seek comfort they will work with the natural defenses that they have. On the other hand, cats that are overly excited can also become quite mouthy and nippy. Cats play bite each other regularly, so it makes sense that they’ll try to do the same to people – it’s how they naturally play. Unfortunately it’s not quite as comfortable for humans, especially when your kitty starts to treat you like a giant cat tree!
#4 – Compulsive Behavior
As stated earlier, cats that are overstimulated can become hyperactive and this hyperactivity presents a special set of symptoms. Compulsive behavior is a symptom that can be quite dangerous for you and your cat. Compulsive behaviors such as tail chasing, constant licking and chewing is some of the more commonly seen acts. These can become very difficult habits to break once your cat becomes obsessive about them. If you notice anything your cat does becoming a compulsive habit, you’ll want to take a look at the rest of their environment and make sure you can stop the behavior before it becomes an issue.
Cover photo: Leonid Mamchenkov