Anyone who’s ever owned a kitten can tell you: they love to play.
It can be hard to get a kitten to stop running, pouncing, and nipping sometimes.
In most cases, a kitten’s hyperactivity is perfectly natural.
What’s important is that you, the owner, can help them release their energy in a healthy way.
We’ll discuss ten reasons kittens are hyper and how to keep them from being destructive.
1. Predatory Drive
All cats, from house cats to lions, are predators.
This is by design.
The desire to hunt is an instinct rather than a learned behavior.
In the wild, young kits learn how to catch prey by watching their mother closely.
In your house, however, that opportunity is not available to them.
You may notice your kitten attempting to sneak up on small objects or toys and pouncing on them.
This is nothing to worry about.
She is simply acting on her natural predatory drive.
This behavior can become destructive or dangerous, however.
Your kitten should be taught what toys are from a young age.
Avoid using your hand or fingers as “prey” for a young kitten.
You do not want her to associate human appendages with hunting.
This may cause her to attack your hands, fingers, toes, or feet as she grows.
It may not hurt much now, but being bitten by an adult cat isn’t fun at all.
It could become serious enough that you aren’t able to have guests over.
To help your kitten learn to hunt safely, try dragging small toys across the floor.
This simulates the movement of a small animal.
Your kitten can pounce, scratch, and bite the toy all she wants.
She will satisfy her need to hunt and learn to distinguish between toys and other objects.
2. The Energy Of Youth
Just as in human children, kittens have a lot of energy simply because they are young.
Their bodies and minds are growing, and everything is new to them.
Their curiosity and excitement about the world around them may manifest as hyperactivity.
Again, this is nothing to be concerned about.
It’s very likely your kitten will gradually calm down as he ages.
Of course, every cat is different, and some may have a lot of energy their whole lives.
Typically, however, kittens are more active than adult cats.
Allow your kitten to burn off his energy by running, playing, and practicing his hunting skills.
Rest assured that this phase will not last forever.
3. Learning To Be An Adult
Kittens are new to the world but grow up quickly.
Kittenhood is the time when they learn how to be a cat.
Your kitten may seem hyper because he is learning what behaviors are acceptable.
It is important that you are there to help train your kitten.
Your kitten should be allowed to run and play, but do not accept inappropriate behaviors from him.
Learning how to behave appropriately in a home will provide mental stimulation for your kitten.
If you notice he tends to struggle with certain behaviors, such as scratching furniture, you can encourage him to change these habits.
Try putting catnip or treats near a scratching post or cardboard plank.
When he scratches the post, reinforce the positive behavior with treats and praise.
As your kitten ages and figures the world out, he will calm down.
New experiences are exciting but will become fewer and farther between as he grows.
4. Need For Socialization
As kittens grow, they must be able to develop their social skills.
If your kitten seems hyper or aggressive when others are in your home, she may need to be better socialized.
It is especially important to do this before she gets older.
Perhaps the most important factor in the socialization of young cats is to keep them with their mother and littermates until eight to ten weeks of age.
The ability to play with their brothers and sisters teaches kittens important skills that are difficult to develop later on.
By playing with littermates, kittens learn how to control their clawing and biting.
It also makes them more likely to accept cats outside their own family later on in life.
If your kitten needs socialization, there are a few tactics you can employ.
If you are able, you may consider getting another kitten or cat.
It will be a little more work for you, but the cats will be able to play and engage with each other.
However, all cats need personal space as well, so be sure to provide both animals with places to nap and lounge, such as beds, furniture, and windowsills.
If having another animal in the home isn’t an option for you, consider having friends over.
Your kitten should be comfortable around people of all ages and genders.
If these friends have cat-friendly pets, it’s a good idea to invite the pet over as well.
Before your kitten reaches adulthood, she should be exposed to many potentially stressful (but safe) situations.
The better socialized your kitten is, the calmer she will be regardless of who is in the home.
5. Need For Playtime
Young mammals of all species need playtime to expend energy and develop appropriately.
It may seem that your kitten is overly hyper when running, pouncing, or batting toys around.
In fact, it’s likely he is just in the mood to play.
Playtime is important for several reasons.
First, kittens learn about themselves and the world through play.
It allows them to test their strength and skills.
It also helps kittens and owners develop strong bonds when they play together.
One way to encourage your kitten to play appropriately is to provide toys in easily accessible places for him.
There are a few things to consider when choosing toys for your kitten.
Safety should always be the top priority.
Avoid toys that can splinter or break easily.
You don’t want your kitten to ingest any part of his toys.
It’s also good to know what kind of playthings kittens enjoy most.
Look for colorful toys of varying textures and shapes.
An irregularly shaped toy that moves unpredictably when batted will excite your kitten and keep him engaged.
Consider toys that make organic noise as well, such as a ball that rattles when rolled.
Another way to keep things from getting boring is to swap toys out from time to time.
If your kitten hasn’t seen a certain toy for a week or so, it will be more fun for him when it appears again.
While your kitten should be able to entertain himself during play, you should also play with him a little each day.
This will strengthen your bond and help socialize your kitten.
Wands with dangly pieces attached are a fun toy for playtime between kitten and owner.
6. Lack Of Attention
If your kitten seems excessively hyper, she could be begging for your attention.
Cats can be low-maintenance pets, but they do need care beyond food and water, especially as kittens.
Attention-seeking behaviors can look like pawing at you or meowing incessantly.
If your kitten won’t stop tapping your arm or leg with his paw, she may want physical affection.
Try allowing her to sit or lie in your lap while you pet her.
This attention may be all she is seeking.
To prevent the behavior in the future, try giving your kitten affection at the same time each day.
This could look like setting aside ten minutes right after work specifically for petting your kitten.
Cats are creatures of habit, so knowing when to expect attention will keep her from acting up out of a desire for affection.
If your kitten is meowing a lot, she may just want to talk to you.
Some cats enjoy back-and-forth conversations with their owners.
You can try talking or meowing back to her if you are comfortable with it.
This lets your kitten know you are paying attention to her, even if you aren’t touching her.
You can even speak to her when she isn’t meowing.
Hearing your voice may be soothing to your kitten, even if she isn’t particularly vocal.
On the other hand, insistent meowing can be a sign that your kitten is in pain or losing her hearing.
If she doesn’t seem satisfied with your replies, it may be time to visit the vet.
7. Uncertainty Or Fear
New environments can be stressful for everyone, and kittens are no exception.
Your kitten may be hyper due to nervous energy.
This is especially true if she came to you from a bad situation, such as an abusive or neglectful previous home.
There are many ways to help your kitten settle in and become well-adjusted.
One of these is a cattery cage.
A cattery cage is essentially a large kennel that can be placed indoors or outdoors.
There are a variety of reasons for caging your kitten (for short periods), and calming her is one of them.
A cattery cage can become a safe place for your kitten.
It will allow her to observe the world without worrying about the world invading her space.
Make sure to place a bed in the cage, along with a small litter box and food and water dishes.
The dishes should be placed away from the litterbox, as your kitten will not want to eat or drink near the litter.
When your kitten is in the cage, live life as normal.
Talk, clean, have friends over, and allow your kitten to observe all of these things.
This will allow her to adjust to life in a home in a nonthreatening way.
You should also give your kitten some personal space, even when not in the cage.
Give her places to hide by putting out a cardboard box or draping a blanket or sheet over a chair.
Avoid giving her access to the space under large furniture like beds and sofas.
If she is overly afraid, it may be hard to get her out from under something larger than a kitchen chair.
8. Lack Of Stimulation
If your home or apartment isn’t a particularly stimulating environment, that could be causing your kitten’s hyperactivity.
Aside from toys and human affection, kittens need visual and tactile enrichment from their surroundings.
Leave your curtains or window blinds open during the day.
Cats enjoy lounging in the sun as well as watching the world go by outside.
If possible, you can even give your kitten supervised outside time by placing a cattery cage in your backyard.
This will allow your kitten to breathe fresh air, listen to the sounds of nature, and watch the outdoor world safely.
You could also use a leash to walk around the yard or neighborhood, though don’t expect it to be like walking a dog.
Your cat will likely want to stop and stare at things for a while.
It’s important not to leave your kitten outside unattended, especially uncaged.
Cats are quick and agile and can escape a fenced yard easily.
A kitten may get lost or hurt and be unable to get home.
Indoor cats also tend to live longer, healthier lives.
Another way to provide an enriched environment for your kitten is to set up a scratching post or cat condo.
Scratching is normal behavior for cats, but you do not need to allow your cat to scratch your furniture.
Train him to scratch only appropriate items by rewarding him for doing so.
Use treats and praise when your cat uses the scratching post.
A cat condo allows your kitten to climb, scratch, and perch to his heart’s content.
While stimulation is vital to your kitten’s development, it’s also possible she is getting too much.
If a lot is going on in your home, your kitten may feel overwhelmed.
This can manifest in the form of nervous energy or hyperactivity.
If your home is full of people or other animals, your kitten may need a safe room.
This is also a great idea for kittens just being introduced to a new home.
Choose a room where few people are likely to enter.
This will give your kitten some quiet time and personal space to calm down.
Put a litter box, food and water dishes, and some toys in the room to keep her comfortable and entertained.
You may also choose to put her scratching post in the room to encourage appropriate behavior.
Ensure she has a place to sleep, such as some furniture or a windowsill.
Your kitten doesn’t need to spend all her time in the safe room once she’s been introduced to the home.
However, some scheduled quiet time is great for kittens who seem to be overstimulated.
10. The Zoomies
Even after your kitten becomes an adult cat, you may see him run erratically through the house from time to time.
This is nothing to be concerned about.
This behavior is commonly called the zoomies.
The zoomies are simply a way for cats, especially kittens, to burn off excess energy.
It may be annoying at times, especially if he is running around at night.
However, as long as he has a safe environment to zoom in, it is perfectly normal, healthy behavior.
In fact, the zoomies don’t last very long and can be entertaining to watch.
Take some time to appreciate this period of life when your kitten is particularly young and cute.
Just make sure he has some room to run where he is unlikely to knock things over.
When Hyperactivity May Indicate A Problem
There are times to be concerned about your kitten’s energy levels.
If your kitten is so active that she cannot concentrate or won’t eat, it could be a sign of something more serious than youth.
Any time your kitten’s behaviors keep her from living a normal life, a vet should be consulted.
Depending on your cat’s symptoms and diagnosis, your vet may recommend a variety of treatments.
A great way to document concerning behavior or symptoms is by taking pictures or videos to share with your vet.
Below are a few common diagnoses for overly active cats and kittens.
Hyperthyroidism occurs when your kitten’s thyroid gland is enlarged and produces too many hormones.
It is marked by weight loss and restlessness.
Typically, this disease affects cats in middle-age or older but can occur in cats of any age.
Affected kittens may vomit or have diarrhea.
If your kitten appears sick in this way, take her to a vet.
Yes, cats can have ADHD just like humans can.
Although studies of the disorder are lacking when it comes to cats, there are symptoms to look out for.
You may notice your kitten exhibiting sudden mood changes or excessive energy.
Her sleeping patterns may change due to her energy bursts.
She may also have a short attention span or become fixated on certain objects.
This behavior isn’t necessarily dangerous, but it can interfere with your kitten’s daily life.
Your vet may recommend medication to help with her symptoms.