Medically Reviewed by Taylor Froiland, PharmD, RPh
Written by Adam McCown, PharmD
It’s an age old question, and considered by many to be one of the oldest old wives’ tales: does the full moon change people’s and animal’s behavior? Well, human and veterinarian medical professionals, especially those who work in emergency rooms, may tell you that, for whatever reason, they see some weird things and some odd behavior whenever the full moon comes around. Many pet and human medical personnel will say that they dread working nights with full moons.
But the question is, is there actually any truth to these claims when it comes to cats? What types of behaviors, if any, are common for our feline friends to experience during the short period of the full moon each month? Let’s look at the facts.
Cats and the Moon
There are near endless anecdotal stories and accounts by owners of their cats acting strangely during the full moon. And there have been several studies that may back this up. The University of Colorado, College of Veterinary Medicine conducted research and concluded that cats were 30% more likely to become injured near or during the full moon. Another, unsubstantiated study claimed that there is a 23% increase in cat visits to veterinary clinics during the full moon.
Other than visiting pet emergency and medical centers more often, owners often report specific actions or behaviors for their cats during the full moon. These typically include hiding, often in very unusual or abnormal spots for them where they don’t normally hide. Another reported behavior is cats being very clingy and attached to their owners, even when they are usually aloof or not very cuddly or loving very often.
Additionally, owner’s have reported that, during the full moon, their cats do or experience the following:
- Higher levels of restlessness
- Greater playfulness
- Are more mischievous
- Enjoy the company of other cats more than normal
- Meow more and are generally louder
However, none of these behaviors have been scientifically proven to be directly or indirectly connected to the moon cycles.
Cats and the Moon: Why Does It Affect Them?
Although science and pet medical professionals have not fully proved or debunked most of the claims about cats and the moon, there are some possible reasons why the moon may cause abnormal behavior. One of the most common theories about pets and the moon is that owners spend more time outside with their animals when the moon’s light is at its peak. This is because there is more light outside so it is easier to be out there with them.
The theory is that, although there is more light, there is still not that much light, so the risk of injury for your pet goes up because they can’t see as well. This may explain the phenomenon of increased pet emergency room visits during the full moon.
Another theory for moon related odd cat or pet behavior is a disruption of their circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is something that all pets and humans share and refers to the physical, mental, and behavioral fluctuations and variations that occur over the course of a 24 hour cycle. Animals, plants, and most living things display circadian rhythm in some form, which includes changes in heart rate, sleeping patterns, hormones, body temperature, and blood pressure. With the moon affecting many factors on earth like gravity and greater night time light, some pet medical professionals believe that this then has an effect on the behavior of cats.
What to Do about Cats and the Moon
With all the stories and tales of “lunar madness” (the word lunacy actually stems from the word “lunar”) in cats, other animals, and humans, is there cause to be worried or alarmed? Probably not. As we said, most of the claims about cats and the moon have not been scientifically verified. Furthermore, there’s no guarantee that your specific cat will experience any problems or exhibit any strange behavior.
If your cat does act oddly during the full moon then just be aware of their behavior, indulge their playfulness, or comfort their anxiety as best as you can. If they experience intense anxiety or fear, then it might be a good idea to talk to your vet who may prescribe your cat anti-anxiety medication.
If a vet does prescribe your cat or other animal any drug or medication, remember that you find it quickly and easily online at Express Vet Pharmacy.