It’s a common occurrence in any feline-friendly household: one minute, your cat is relaxing peacefully in her favorite spot. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, she’s frantically zipping and zooming around the house, almost as if she’s chasing or being chased by something invisible.
Sometimes, these cat zoomies are a fun opportunity to play with your cat or simply a fun form of entertainment. Other times—like in the middle of the night—those zoomies aren’t so appreciated.
Is it just another quirky cat behavior, or is it a sign that something could be wrong? Read on to find out!
What Are Cat Zoomies?
Cat zoomies, kitty Olympics, cat parkour… whatever you call it, you’ll certainly know it when you see it. Simply put, the term “cat zoomies” refers to that seemingly spontaneous mad dash around the house. If your cat has the zoomies, you’ll know–they’re certainly not subtle.
Cat zoomies tend to start and stop quickly. One minute, your cat is snoozing and the next, she’s in a furry frenzy. After bouncing off the walls for a bit, she’s back to peacefully dozing in her favorite spot.
There’s a technical term for these bursts of hyperactivity: Frenetic Random Activity Periods, or FRAPs. Most of the time, it’s a perfectly normal cat behavior—it just means that your cat has a sudden burst of energy that needs to be expelled.
What Causes Cat Zoomies?
So, we’ve established that cat zoomies are caused by sudden bursts of energy. But what, exactly, is causing your cat to get so riled up?
There are actually a few different reasons for the zoomies. For example:
She just woke up. Cats spend a significant portion of their days lounging and sleeping. As a result, they’ll have some pent-up energy that they expel through brief bursts of activity.
She’s bored. Mental stimulation is just as important as physical activity. If your cat is bored and doesn’t have a proper outlet, she may resort to a zoomie session.
She’s frustrated. Maybe your cat is feeling jealous of any outdoor cats she sees from her window; maybe she’s having a hard time catching her prey (such as a fly, or that darn laser pointer, she can end up feeling frustrated and agitated. Zoomies can be an outlet for coping with those feelings.
She’s “hunting.” Your cat’s zoomies could be the result of getting a bit riled up during a hunting session… even if that “prey” is just a bug, dust ball, or stray piece of food!
- She’s anxious. Unresolved stress or anxiety can come out in the form of excess energy. Additionally, if you have a kitty who’s losing her hearing or eyesight, she may get spooked a bit more easily and zoom around as a result.
She just used the litter box. If your kitty tends to enjoy a victory lap after using her litter box, she’s not alone. She may even be trying to run away from the unpleasant smell! However, post-poop zoomies can sometimes be a sign that her bowel movements were uncomfortable and that she’s experiencing digestive issues.
- She has health issues. If your cat is feeling itchy and agitated, or uncomfortable in any way, she may get the zoomies in an attempt to “run away” from the feeling. If you’re also noticing changes in appearance or behavior, it’s a good idea to talk to your vet to rule out health issues.
Dealing With Your Cat’s Zoomies
If your vet has ruled out potential health issues, your cat’s zoomies are likely not a cause for concern. That said, if her frantic frenzies are interrupting your work or sleep, you may want to take some steps to keep that erratic behavior under control.
Excessive energy is often a sign that your cat isn’t getting enough stimulation. Exercise is important for cats, so try to incorporate at least two 15-minute play sessions with your kitty each day using toys such as lasers and wands.
Note: when playing with your cat, be sure to let her win every so often. Chasing laser pointers or cartoon mice on a laptop screen can be entertaining, but also frustrating because there’s no way to ever catch the object of interest. Be sure to use plenty of toys that she can pounce on, catch, and “kill” for that sense of satisfaction.
Make sure your cat has at least one good-quality scratcher, too—in addition to being a good form of entertainment and exercise, scratching is also a healthy emotional outlet for cats. (Plus, your furniture and walls will thank you!)
Mental stimulation is just as important as physical stimulation. Interactive toys, puzzle feeders, and access to a window are all great ways to keep your cat busy and entertained.
Cats should also eat multiple small meals per day, rather than a few large meals, in order to keep their energy levels stable.