When good pets go hyper

NICK BARNETT
Last updated 08:50 21/11/2012

Have you heard about the 9 o'clock crazies? It's what goes on at a certain time of the day - and it doesn't have to be 9pm - when your cat or dog inflates with mad energy, bounces around the house at x6 fast-forward speed, glaring, grabbing and dashing, and finally fizzles like a spent firework.

LouieIt can be amusing, this crazy time. It can be hazardous, to you and to your belongings. And it seems true of every pet, though the specifics vary.

Nine o'clock is a common time for the crazies because the pet that's been sleeping all day suddenly has company, fuel by way of the evening feeding, and enough stored energy to light up the Sky Tower. But the crazies can come at any time.

I've found that with cats, the crazies often strike straight after a feeding. Maybe the sudden infusion of protein hijacks the cat's brain and body and creates an unmanageable surplus of energy. After his morning feed, Merrick often starts doing wind sprints around the house, coming to sudden stops with his claws dug into the carpet, eyes flashing, ears flaring backwards and tail arching. No wonder my grandmother used to say "cat's got the wind in his tail" at this kind of moment, because it's just as though Merrick is being blown around.

Dogs are prone to the crazies too. Phoebe has an explosion of energy several times a week, always in the evening but often after she's already had a long walk that you'd expect to tire her out. As though commanded by a starter's gun inside her head, she thumps round the couch, gallops across the room and into the hall, squeals to a halt and then repeats the circuit as often as five times before her breath gives out. It's a solo thing - she never tries to involve Connor or any person in her laps of the house, just goes full tilt until she can't move, boiling off every atom of steam.

I find it advantageous, at these times of Phoebe's crazies, to stand well back and just wait it out.

Sometimes these bursts of hyperactivity among pets are more focused. Here's Luka, whose "crazies" are confined to a couch:

It can be funny to watch a pet locked in the 9 o'clock crazies, but hyperactivity can be a serious problem for some pets. Cesar Millan, as you'd expect if you've seen his TV show, points to a lack of exercise often being involved and reminds us that dogs need exercise and stimulation, a lot of it. Hyper behaviour can also be attention-seeking, and in some cases it can point to a thyroid gland dysfunction. This article is a good survey of the issues and well worth a read by dog owners.

Does your cat or dog get the crazies from time to time?

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