Whether you call them cat zoomies or cat crazies, this feline behavior is unmistakable.
“Zoomies” is a word used to describe seemingly random periods of bursts of energy in cats. Cats with the zoomies might suddenly leap up and race around the living room or even the entire house, running, jumping, climbing and otherwise going crazy with activity.
Some cats punctuate their roomies with growling, yowling or meowing. Cat zoomies often seem to come out of nowhere and disappear after a while.
What Are Cat Zoomies?
Cats are known for strange behaviors, but cats are not the only species that exhibit zoomies. Dogs get the zoomies, too.
Believe it or not, there is even a technical term that veterinarians use for the zoomies: frenetic random activity periods (also known as FRAPs). Watching a cat with the zoomies can be pretty entertaining, but what exactly are they doing? And why do the zoomies seem to start up for no reason?
Why Do Cats Get Zoomies?
As it turns out, the zoomies are not random. There are several different reasons cats get the zoomies; some are related to cat behavior and some reasons are medical.
Let’s break down the most common causes of the cat zoomies:
It’s no secret that cats sleep a lot. In between the long periods of rest and sleep, cats often experience a surge in energy (in the wild, this is when they would be hunting). That burst of feel-good vibes can sometimes trigger the zoomies in cats.
Hunting Instinct Zoomies
Despite having easy access to food, domesticated cats are still driven by their instincts to hunt and chase prey. Cats sometimes get the urge to act out on these instincts by stalking imaginary prey and suddenly pouncing, which may trigger the further urge to begin racing around the house in a frenzy of activity.
Boredom/Lack of Activity
Living inside is safe for a house cat, but it’s also far less interesting than surviving in the wild. Some indoor cats are desperate for something to break up the monotony, so they make up their own fun time in the form of the zoomies, which can combat their pent-up energy.
Oddly enough, frenetic random activity periods (also known as FRAPs, or the zoomies) are one sign of hyperthyroidism in cats.
This condition, which is common in middle aged and senior cats, occurs when the thyroid gland becomes overactive, making too many thyroid hormones. In addition to hyperactivity, other signs of hyperthyroidism in cats include weight loss, increased appetite, increased thirst, excessive urination, vomiting and diarrhea.
If your cat is experiencing the zoomies more than usual, and is also displaying other symptoms of hyperthyroidism, have her checked out by your veterinarian.
In senior cats, zoomies are sometimes a sign of dementia and cognitive decline related to conditions such as cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS).
Senior cats suffering from changes in sight, hearing, and their sense of smell may also start displaying frequent bouts of the zoomies—becoming startled by something can sometimes trigger the zoomies.
If your older cat starts showing more frequent zoomies, especially if she hasn’t really been prone to them before, have her checked out by a veterinarian.
Anxiety and Stress
When cats are feeling upset about something going on in their life, they may display behavioral changes, including an increased incidence of the zoomies. Sometimes, strife between one or more cats in a multi-cat household may lead to excessive zoomies. If you’re also noticing your cats having accidents outside the litter box, disharmony in the home may be to blame.
Some cats race around the house after using the litter box, especially after they poop. This can be a normal response, as sort of victory lap to the feeling of “lightening their load” so to speak.
However, if it happens often, or if it is combined with inappropriate urination or defecation outside the litter box, you should have your cat seen by a vet to rule out any health issues.
How to Stop Cat Zoomies
In healthy cats, the zoomies can be normal and behaviorally-appropriate. Some cats just love a good romp and run about the house to burn off excess energy. After all, it’s all in good fun.
As long as you believe that your cat’s needs are being met (she has plenty of cat toys, places to scratch, things to climb, places to perch, and lots of play sessions and other interaction with you) and you don’t suspect that your cat is experiencing a health issue, stress or anxiety, you can just let the zoomies run their course.
Cat zoomies are generally short-lived so you can usually just wait it out and your cat will return to her normal self. Most cats don’t zoom much longer than five minutes or so.
If you’re worried about your cat hurting herself (if she’s leaping from a tall cat tree), or breaking something while she’s zooming, or if her zoomies are simply driving you crazy (especially if they occur in the middle of the night), you wonder how you can turn them off.
If you want to put a stop to the zoomies sooner rather than later, lean into them by playing with your cat. It might sound strange, but engaging your cat with playtime during an episode of the zoomies can help. Try enticing your cat to bat at a feather wand toy, chase after her favorite jingle ball or pounce on a toy mouse.
The one thing not to do when your cat has the zoomies?
Don’t make the mistake of trying to chase your cat, and don’t try to pick her up and cuddle. Cats with the zoomies are highly aroused. Chasing or trying to pet your cat during a zoomies episode can backfire as your cat might turn her energy toward you and attack your hands or feet.
Even if the zoomies seemed to have ended, wait a little bit before petting your cat. Cats often remain riled up for a little bit after having the zoomies. Give your cat 10 or 15 minutes to settle down before going in for a snuggle.
After all that activity, she will probably be ready for your lap!