What does it mean when you see a cat walking in circles and meowing?
Without proper context, it can be hard to determine the underlying cause of this behavior. Walking in circles while meowing is a behavior displayed by felines in different situations. And to decipher this behavior in a specific cat, you will need to take into account multiple factors.
Here are the possible reasons why a cat is walking in circles and meowing:
- Dominance and aggression
- Vestibular disease
- Ear infections
- Head trauma
- Brain tumor
Cat greeting his owner
Although cats may seem aloof sometimes, they do get excited when they see their humans, especially when they arrive from home after being out for quite some time.
Usually, a cat will circle his human while meowing, rubbing his body against the legs of his owner. If you watch your cat’s posture, you will notice that his tail is turned towards you. Some cats may also roll over their backs.
Typically, when your cat shows this behavior, it means that he is craving for your attention. After you acknowledge him, he will stop and go about his usual business.
However, if your cat is still persistent with this behavior, it can mean that he is hungry or wants to play with you.
The cat is herding
Another possible reason why your cat is circling while meowing is that your pet is trying to direct his attention to something that he might have heard or smelled.
Cats have a keen sense of hearing and they may hear things that humans may not. Here, your pet may be trying to tell you that you should investigate something that has piqued his attention.
It is also possible that your pet has sensed entering his territory. Cats are highly territorial creatures and these instincts can kick in when they smell something out of the ordinary.
Cat dominance and aggression
Your cat may circle you while meowing to assert his dominance over you. To your cat, you are not his master. At best, your cat thinks of you as his co-equal, at worst, he thinks that you are the inferior one.
Here, circling is a way your pet controls and restricts your movement to show that he is superior to you. He believes that because he is the dominant partner in your relationship, he gets to control where you can go.
Although the behavior may seem cute but odd, you need to stop this before he exhibits more harmful behavior toward you.
Vestibular disease in cats
Like people, cats rely on their inner ears to attain a sense of balance. When the structure of their inner ears is compromised, they may display odd behavior like walking crookedly or in circles.
One disease that affects a cat’s inner ears is the vestibular disease. This disease can arise due to several causes. However, the most common causes are bacteria, inflammation, and dental issues.
Additionally, Asian cat breeds like the Siamese and Burmese are predisposed to succumb to the disease.
Vestibular disease strikes quickly, often without warning. However, it also resolves by itself within a day. This is why veterinarians do not usually treat the disease.
However, you should still consult your veterinarian. It is possible that the disease was triggered by a graver medical issue like an ear infection or a tumor.
Ear infections in cats
Mites are the leading cause of ear infections in cats. When your pet is infested by these pests he will scratch his ears and may show signs of imbalance.
Left unchecked, an infestation can escalate to the condition known as otitis internia, a type of bacterial infection that harms a cat’s inner ears. Otitis internia can rob your cat of his ability to ever walk again. In some cases, an affected cat can lose his hearing and experience breathing and heart problems.
Apart from the difficulty in maintaining balance, the symptoms of this infection include eye dryness, drooling, vomiting, appetite loss, and inability to properly coordinate movements.
Head trauma in cats
People often think of cats as nimble and graceful creatures who can get out of sticky situations practically unscathed.
That is not entirely true. Cats can figure in a number of accidents, ranging from falls to road accidents to fights with other animals. All of these can result in head traumas.
Head traumas can sometimes result in concussions. And when this happens, a cat’s nervous system can be compromised, leaving him confused and disoriented. A cat suffering from a concussion can display these signs while going about his normal routine like eating or going to the litter box.
Although most cats recover from head traumas in a few days, it is critical to bring your pet to the vet if you suspect that he is suffering from a head injury.
Your vet will evaluate the potential damage that your cat may be suffering from and recommend the appropriate treatment plan.
High blood pressure in cats
A cat can walk in circles due to the sudden rush of blood to his head. Typically, this is accompanied by other symptoms like clumsiness and lack of coordination.
A sudden rush of blood to the head is a sign of high blood pressure. Sometimes, this increase in blood pressure can be brought about by a cat being severely stressed.
However, hypertension can also be a long term condition which can manifest in odd behavior like walking around in circles.
Usually, hypertension is indicative that a cat has kidney problems. If your cat is old, there is likely nothing much you can do about your cat’s kidney problem.
Hypertension in cats can be treated. However, you will need to monitor your pet constantly and he will need to stay on meds for the rest of his life.
Low blood sugar in cats
Although hypoglycemia or low blood sugar is often associated with diabetes, that condition can also be caused by bacterial infections, hypothermia, parasites, liver disease, and poor diet.
Apart from walking in circles, a cat with low blood sugar will exhibit other symptoms like muscle tremors and seizures. Seizures are typically followed by the loss of consciousness.
As a cat grows older, his cognitive functions can decline. Sometimes, senior cats can succumb to a condition known as cat senility or feline cognitive dysfunction.
A cat suffering from senility is almost always in a state of confusion. And walking around in circles is one of the symptoms associated with this condition.
Unfortunately, there is no cure available for cat senility. The best that you and your vet can do is to slow down your cat’s decline through the combination of diet, medications, and supplements.
Brain tumor in cats
Most brain tumors are harmless. However, when a tumor is described as malignant, you will see noticeable changes in your cat’s behavior.
These include walking around in circles, confusion, tilting the head to one side, and seizures.
Although tumors can be treated, the chances of success go down the older the cat is.
Why your cat is meowing while walking in circles
Deciphering the underlying reason behind a cat’s behavior can be difficult, especially if such behavior is associated with lots of things.
If your cat is meowing while walking in circles, you have to look past that and watch his other actions.
Or you can eliminate the guesswork and head straight to the vet. Typically, a vet will start checking your pet’s blood, watching out for clues for kidney and liver problems, high blood pressure, and infections.
Image: istockphoto.com / Nils Jacobi