What’s up with cats and the full moon?
If you could KNOW any one thing about cats what would it be? What is the biggest feline mystery of all? I recently came across at least one big mystery that has people turning to Google for answers.
Last week I read an article about the effects of the full moon on animal behavior (including humans). We still don’t know for sure what (if any) effects the lunar cycle has on behavior, just a lot of anecdotes and suspicions. A 1985 study, “Much ado about the full moon: A meta-analysis of lunar-lunacy” found nothing more than some bad methodology correlating the moon cycle with criminal activity, hospital admissions and other problematic behavior.
Reading this article brought me back on a little trip down memory lane to one of my first blog posts I ever wrote for my cat behavior consulting business’ website…Let’s revisit that blog post (as I have said before, I love recycling)…
Feline Full Moon Fever
originally posted 12/10/2008
It seems like every few weeks, I’m looking at the calendar to confirm a suspicion. My cats are still pretty young and active, but some nights they seem a bit more frisky than others. This usually involves a lot of puffed tails (known as piloerection), dilated pupils, howling meows, and racing around the apartment, often skidding around in a 360° spin.
My suspicion? That this behavior increases during the full moon. Although I haven’t attempted to officially track it, it appears as though their wacky behaviors correlate to the full moon. Of course, it could be that I am more likely to check the calendar when I’m aware the moon is full, and ignore the behavior on other nights. Or perhaps my own behavior changes around the full moon, which causes my cats to act differently. So, I thought I would do a little research.
It appears that the evidence is inconclusive — does the full moon affect our behavior? Some studies say maybe, others say no. One study (Wells, R.J., Gionfriddo, J.R., Hackett, T.B., & Radecki, S.V. (2007). Canine and feline emergency room visits and the lunar cycle: 11,940 cases. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Associatio, 231, 251-253) found an increase in emergency room visits for pet cats and dogs during the full moon. One thought is that the increased moonlight allows for greater activity. Tell that to my indoor cats who don’t spend much time in direct moonlight!
Without more proof, it’s hard to say the full moon is in fact causing this frisky behavior. So, next time I’ll just enjoy their excitement and try an extra play session with a feather wand! Perhaps more research will help us learn about whether Feline Full Moon Fever is real, and in the meantime, feel free to share your cat’s full moon antics with us.
Back to the present day.
In what could be called a moment of synchronicity, I happened to check the visitor statistics for my business website shortly after seeing the recent article on the full moon. There were plenty of visits to our website from a Google search for things like “cat whisperer San Francisco,” “cat behavior consultant Bay Area,” and “cat behavior (spelled at least two or three different ways).”
There were even hits to our website from searches for things like “will rambunctious kittens ever grow into couch potatoes” (maybe), “feline kneading while dragging rear end” (sounds like a trip to the vet is needed), “cat behavior study science tin foil” (I’d like to hear more about THAT study), “can i make a living being a certified cat consultant” (hahaha, maybe), “his teeth with turkey” (???), “two cats in love” (is it really love?), “cat safety and qtips” (hmm), “masturbating edge of blanket” (not sure if this is about cats or not), “cat dressed as dragon” (don’t torture your cats!), and “maximum extreme behavior in my cat” (whoa).
But what struck me as odd was the number of hits our website got about cats and the full moon! “Can a full moon cause cats to act weird?,” “cat climbing during full moon,” “cat more frisky during full moon?,” “cat has behavioral changes around full moon,” “violent behaviour full moon polydactylism(???),” “why do my cats meow during a full moon,” “cats freaked out full moon,” “a lot cats (sic) sitting together outside under full moon,” “cat behavior super moon,” “my cat is bad during a full moon,” and “my cat raced around during moon change,” just to give a handful of the hundreds of examples. Over the course of just over five years, we got over 700 hits from full moon + cat searches! These hits peaked in August of 2012, and have decreased somewhat since.
I admit this is nothing resembling a scientific study…but anecdotally, it seems like this is a burning question for many cat folks out there! I even checked Google Trends to see what they had to say. For “cat/cats full moon,” all of the searches originated in the United States, and there were plenty of inquiries. It’s not like this is BLOWING UP the internet, but I’d say there are enough questions out there that people HAVE TO KNOW: Is the full moon impacting our cats’ behavior?
I could imagine a citizen science study!!! Perhaps people log their cat’s behavior with a detailed ethogram each day, and this could be tracked in a massive database and correlated with phases of the moon. Sound like a project you want to get involved with? Let’s talk (mikel at felineminds dot com)! Oh, and let me know if you think your cat gets crazy around the full moon.