When the writer's cat Guido is locked indoors, he decides to stage a furry protest.
Guido is lying on the floor, paws crossed on his chest, purring loudly and looking cuter than a Victorian chocolate-box kitten.
You’d never guess this boy morphs into a furry tornado when he’s crossed.
Every cat is different and we’re used to thinking of Target, our senior fuzzy, as the crazy cat while Guido, his junior, is the solid, dependable one.
Target has hysterics at the drop of a hat. He puffs up like a fuzzy hedgehog, hisses loudly and then screams like a banshee if there’s an intruder, a leaf on the floor or when one of us has the temerity to drop a spoon or rattle a coffee cup.
As we’re always having to hold his paw and calm him down, we weren’t surprised he was upset when we had a fierce lightning storm hanging over our home last week.
Target began growling with fear at the first clap of thunder and, by the time the rain came thundering down, his neck fur was standing up.
Guido, on the other hand, curled up on his pillow and went to sleep, which tells you all you need to know about his disposition.
Of course, Guido has his idiosyncrasies. He very much objects to sneezing, for example. If you do so in his presence, he gives you a filthy look and an admonishing, “Meow!”
Sneeze twice in a row, and he’ll stand up, scold you and then curl up – with his back to you – in a very pointed manner, just to show you how rude and inconsiderate you are.
Given our two very different boys, I tend to take Guido’s communications more seriously than Target’s. It was this mistake that led to trouble.
We have a house rule that cats can play outside during the day but they come in for dinner at 8pm and then the door is locked till morning. Guido usually comes in on the dot while Target might pitch up an hour early or late. So when Target asks for dinner, I check the time but when Guido strolls in, I tend to serve.
However, the recent storms and rains we’ve been having have interfered with cat outside playtime. The cats have been sitting in front of the window, watching it rain all evening, only to have the wet stop just before curfew.
Guido thought this a shocking business. He began bolting down his dinner and then meowing at the door, frustrated to find it closed.
Seeing this, we decided he had a legitimate complaint. Cats need their evening strolls just like people need to get out and about. So on rainy days, we began offering dinner at 8pm but leaving the door open till 9pm.
Given the change, I thought I might have to go out to fetch Target inside but it’s Guido who’s been the trouble-fluff.
A couple of nights ago, both cats came in late, ate their dinner, and had a nap. But at 10PM, Guido woke up and began meowing at the door.
When we refused to let him out, Guido decided that if he couldn’t let off steam outside, he’d do so inside. After rolling around on the rug for a few minutes, he whapped Target on the bum before streaking up the stairs. Of course, Target gave chase, and the two of them ran about the house.
Forget about cats running silently on velvet paws! The two of them racketed up the stairs, screamed around the corner, crashed about on the upstairs landing and then thundered back down like a herd of elephants.
Target ground to a halt on the living room rug, looking totally demented with his ears pinned back, fur standing up on end and eyes wild.
Guido just kept going. He bounced over the table, flew over me sitting on the sofa, and ended up slamming on to the television table. It weighs a tonne but it rocked, proving Newton’s point that force equals mass times acceleration.
We all held our breath but our cat had managed it perfectly: Every breakable item in the room swayed but nothing crashed and smashed. Our junior cat looked at us, a perfectly naughty look in his eyes, and his ears all folded back with glee at our fright. Then he crowed in loud feline triumph, “Purr-ROW, MEOW!”
Yesterday it didn’t rain at all but Guido went wild again.
Like before, he ran about like a maniac, crashing about on heavy paws, jumping over all the furniture and crowing loudly. Then, completely exhausted from his fun, he lay on the floor, purring loudly.
There are many reasons why cats go nuts but he’s doing it just to see us wince at the potential destruction.
“You’re a little furry devil,” I told him.
“You can cut out the cute act because you’re not fooling anyone!”
Guido just grinned and gave me the cat version of a kiss by blinking slowly at me. He’s not worried at all by my scolding because he’s having fun and he knows who’s boss. It’s not us bipeds.
NEXT PAGE: Why do cats go crazy?
If you’re not a cat person but have cat friends, ask them about “zoomies” or “thundering herd of elephants”. Guaranteed you’ll get stories of cats going absolutely totally bonkers for no apparent reason.
It’s like throwing a switch: One second you have a sweet little puddle of fluff, snoozing on the sofa, and the next you’ve got a furred streak of lightning, hurtling over the furniture. While our Guido is clever on his paws, other cats smash ornaments and knock over even heavy furniture.
So what’s going on?
Sometimes it’s just the joys of life. A cat who’s feeling happy can express himself by racing and chasing. Other times it’s an energy thing. When your kitty feels cooped up, he gets rid of all that surplus energy by playing wild games.
If it’s this, you may have zoomies at three in the morning. This is especially true for indoor cats, which is why you should always play with your kitties and make sure they are properly exercised (think of human toddlers who need to be tired out to sleep through the night).
Also, a less pleasant reason is that it may be due to fleas. A fleabite is a nasty thing and if your kitty is suddenly bitten, he or she may startle and run. The simple solution is to talk to your vet about Frontline, Advantage or other flea prevention systems for pets.
Finally, if the zoomies go together with your pet biting its own tail, or over-grooming there, you should talk to your vet because there is a possibility your pet has another health issue.
One possible reason is Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome (FHS) that’s nicknamed “rolling skin disease” because the skin ripples. It goes along with dilated eyes and twitches. Nobody is sure what causes it but some think it’s a form of epilepsy.
I’m mentioning FHS because it exists but it’s not very common. Also, it’s easily mixed up with very ordinary and easily fixed issues like insect bites, allergies and plain old skin problems. So talk to your vet if you think something’s wrong but don’t panic. Most zoomies are due to excess energy and sheer fun.