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I am a new cat owner, so bear with me.

So my cat gets the zoomies about twice a day (he is 6 mo. old, neutered). He has immense amounts of energy. He will just run all over the place bouncing off walls. I recently noticed he will run away from me if I step towards him when he is in these moods. I've slowly started chasing him, and he seems to like it. But his response is very mixed.

When I chase him, he never takes a logical route. So, support that he's not actually scared. BUT, he does hide under the bed. Not all the way under, but behind the comforter. It is somewhat difficult for him to get under the bed fully. That being said, he could also run under the couch if he were truly scared. And then, if I walk around the corner, he will come back, walk around the corner, and stare at me. Then slowly approaches me like he is trying to hunt me. Sometimes, once he gets to the bed, I stop chasing and just watch. Then he leaps out from under the bed and goes nuts across the apartment.

Another super confusing thing is that sometimes he will run at me like a psycho. Or approach me like he is hunting. Then, I walk away and turn around. He then runs at me, tail puffed, running sideways like he is possessed! And I know puffing out the tail generally means they are frightened! Then the sideways walk means a fight? But if I approach him this way, he lets me pet him and settles down instantly. At these times, I sometimes run away from him. Another time I ran at him, and he quite literally jumped off my leg like parkour and raced across the apartment.

It really seems as if he is engaging me to chase him. He will approach me and then just turn and run. But I seem to get somewhat mixed signals with the partial hide under the bed and the attack-mode tail puff with hackles raised. I also will run at him when he is not in his weird moods and he just stares at me.

We hang out all the time, I live alone, we go on walks together, and he sleeps in my bed. So we are super close. He is literally sitting next to me right now watching me type this. Nope. Now he is attacking the fake mouse like a savage even though I have run with him for the past HOUR. Is he just a weird cat? Or am I doing something wrong?

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From the way you are describing it, it sounds to me like it is play. My two cats do exactly what you describe you and your cat doing. You are play chasing each other.

I linked a video of two cats playing with one another. If you think your cat and you do something similar it should be fine. As you can see in the video cats often switch in the middle of playing who is chasing who and there are also small pauses.

As long as your cat is not genuinely afraid it should be fine. As you said he could hide if he really wanted. I would stop the game if:

  • he hisses at you
  • he swipes at you with fully extended claws
  • he hides

Be aware of how your cat acts, you are the one who knows him best.

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It sounds like play behavior to me.

Some of the behaviors you describe are actually kitten play behavior that while uncommon in adults, a few will continue doing past kittenhood. So it may be that your cat hasn't grown out of them yet, or it may be that it is one of those cats that keeps doing it as an adult. These behaviors are:

  • fluffing the tail
  • arching the back and/or tail
  • a bouncy sort of walk or side-step

A good (and funny) example of this type of play behavior can be seen in this video.

That you've observed your cat doing these sorts of behaviors in situations incongruous to it being actually afraid (such as you turn around and ignore it, and then it does it) is an indication that it is in fact just play.

Generally when a cat is afraid, it'll be pretty obvious. Some of the signs are:

  • frantically scrambling away to flee
  • hiding
  • if no good hiding space is available, then it will probably cower in a corner
  • hissing
  • aggressive swatting
  • fluffing
  • eyes dilated, and it's not trying to pounce anything
  • explosive shedding

But of course there are matters of degree too. Perhaps the cat isn't afraid, but not exactly thrilled by the experience either. If you're still concerned that you're not entirely sure whether the cat truly likes this game or not, I would simply play different games with the cat that are much easier for the cat to disengage from if it decides it doesn't want to play anymore. For instance, throwing toys, wand toys, laser pointers, and so forth.

Your cat is still very young, so the amount of play it requires seems pretty normal. Different cats also have different energy levels as well. Some very rare individuals will play almost constantly even as adults. Others are mostly just couch potatoes.

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