cat pacing indoors

Key takeaway

Cats pace more than usual when stressed, fearful, mating, bored, or dealing with other health conditions. Treatment for excessive pacing requires diagnosis from a veterinarian. 

Most cats spend their days lurking around the house, minding their own business. They’ll occasionally jump on the couch to cuddle up next to you and meow when they’re hungry, but besides that, cats pretty much do their own thing.


A cat’s behaviors are  typically consistent, so when something’s off, it’s easy to tell. Cat pacing is actually quite common, and can be a result of stress, boredom, pain, hormones, and a host of other health conditions. A cat pacing may be a sign of a serious health issue that needs medical attention. If you have been noticing that your cat has been pacing around your house aimlessly, it’s worth involving your veterinarian.

In this blog post, we’ll be discussing more in-depth about the various reasons why your cat is pacing, as well as frequently asked questions about cat pacing. If you’re curious as to why your cat keeps walking around the house aimlessly, continue reading. Otherwise, you can use the links below to skip to a section of your choice.

7 Reasons Your Cat is Pacing

Your cat isn’t just pacing around the house because they feel like it. There’s most likely a reason behind your cat’s pacing, and it can be a result of something as simple as boredom to a side effect of a more serious health condition, like hyperthyroidism.

Common Reasons Cats Pace

These are some of the most common reasons as to why your cat is pacing:

Stress or anxiety

The reason why your cat is pacing might just be because they’re stressed or anxious. A cat who is stressed or anxious may be feeling restless, which is causing them to pace around. Any changes to your routine can trigger anxiety in a cat, such as moving homes or getting a new pet. Remember, something that isn’t stressful for you might be for your feline friend.

If you suspect your cat is pacing around due to stress or anxiety, talk to your vet. They will know the best form of treatment. Depending on the severity of their anxiety, a vet may recommend anti-anxiety medication to quell their nerves.

 medication can help your cat quell symptoms of anxiety

Pain

When you’re in pain, it’s hard to sit still. The same goes for your cat. Pain can cause your kitty to be unable to relax or lie down comfortably, which can lead to them pacing around. If your cat is in pain from any visible wounds, bring them to the vet immediately. But even if they don’t have any visible wounds, it’s still a good idea to bring them to the vet as they could be suffering from an internal injury.

Boredom

A simple explanation for your cat’s pacing might just be because they’re bored! Boredom can cause night-time pacing, especially if your cat is used to going outside at night. If your cat doesn’t get enough stimulation during the day through playtime, it might cause them to stay up throughout the night, walking around aimlessly. Cats are most active at dusk and dawn, which is why it’s so common for them to pace around at night. It might take a while for them to get adjusted to your sleeping schedule, so pacing at night is quite common for young cats. 

To prevent your cat from pacing due to boredom, make sure your cat has enough toys to play with during the day. Try to build in some time in your schedule as well to engage with your kitty so they get enough playtime on a regular basis.

Hormones

Your cat’s hormones can be another reason why they’re pacing around. Female cats who are in heat may pace around because they’re feeling antsy and looking for a mate. Male cat hormones can also cause them to pace around inside because they’re feeling anxious and want to go outside and explore. If you notice this sort of restless pacing in your cat, it’s a good idea to bring them to the vet and get them spayed or neutered. This will help ease their hormones, make them more relaxed, and should help with the pacing. Spaying or neutering your cat will also prevent pregnancies and help keep the cat overpopulation problem under control.

Hyperthyroidism

If your cat is pacing, restless, and eating more than usual, this might be a sign of hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is a condition that means your cat’s thyroid is overactive  and producing more hormones than are necessary for a healthy metabolism. Hyperthyroidism can increase your cat’s metabolism, which can cause them to pace around. Hyperthyroidism also causes weight loss and an increased appetite.  If you suspect your cat’s pacing is due to hyperthyroidism, make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible so that they can run blood tests. 

Pregnancy

A pregnant cat may pace around and meow in their very late stages of pregnancy, right before giving birth. If her meowing intensifies even more, this might indicate that labor is coming very soon. If you notice your pregnant cat pacing and meowing, it’s a good idea to start preparing for the kittens to arrive as your cat may be starting labor soon. You should call your vet to discuss signs of labor to watch for. .

Feline Dementia

Feline dementia (cognitive dysfunction) is another potential cause of cat pacing, and is especially common in older cats. In addition to pacing, if your cat is suffering from dementia, they will also likely sit and stare off into space, meow excessively, spend less time grooming themselves, and become more easily agitated. If you think your cat’s excessive pacing and meowing is due to dementia, speak with your vet so that you can figure out a treatment plan to help them feel more comfortable and less anxious.

In any case, if your cat is pacing excessively, or newly pacing, it’s important to contact a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis. While a cat pacing could be very harmless, it could also be a result of something serious, so you’re always better off playing it safe and bringing your cat to the vet to get checked.

cat pacing outside

Cat Pacing: Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean when a cat is pacing?

Your cat pacing back and forth can be an indication that something is off with them. A cat pacing can be a result of a host of different conditions, such as anxiety, boredom, or hyperthyroidism. In order to figure out the primary cause of your cat’s pacing, you should bring them to the vet so you can get a proper diagnosis. 

Why is my elderly cat pacing?

If your eldery cat is pacing around back and forth, this could be a sign of dementia (cognitive dysfunction). A cat with dementia will pace around, develop changes in their sleeping habits, become angry and confused, and may even stop grooming themselves. To help a cat with cognitive dysfunction, it’s important to keep their environment the same to avoid any further confusion and anxiety. You should also keep their brains stimulated by playing with them often. Your vet may recommend giving them supplements to help the dementia, such as supplements with Omega-3 and vitamin B12.

omega-3 and vitamin B12 supplements can help older cats deal with dementia

Why does my cat constantly walk around?

Your cat constantly walking around can be due to boredom, stress, anxiety, hormones, old age, hyperthyroidism, and a variety of other health conditions. If you notice your cat constantly walking around, bring them to the vet as soon as possible so they can figure out what’s wrong. 

Final Notes

There are many reasons that could be causing your cat to pace around aimlessly, but in order to figure out exactly why, you need the help of a vet. Don’t just brush off your cat pacing as no big deal. While their pacing could simply be because they’re bored, it could also be because they’re suffering from a health condition that needs medical attention. So if you see your kitty pacing around aimlessly, bring them to the vet as soon as possible so that they can receive the proper treatment they need.

But if you’re having difficulty making an appointment with your vet, check out Dutch.com, where you can make remote appointments with licensed veterinarians. When you sign up on Dutch, you’ll get connected with a network of licensed veterinarians who can help with a multitude of different cat health conditions, such as cat diarrhea, a cat ear infection, cat skin allergies, and more.

We partner with highly qualified veterinarians who will diagnose your sick kitty and prescribe them the treatment they need to get better– all from the comfort of your home. Whether you’re dealing with cat pacing or an itchy cat, Dutch is here to provide you with a customized treatment plan for your feline friend. And the best part is, you’ll get the prescription delivered directly to your door within 7 days. With Dutch, bringing your pet to the vet has never been easier.