Cat Zoomies Explained

Cat Behavior, Cats

Last Updated - December 12, 2023

Seemingly every pet parent has seen cat zoomies appear out of nowhere. One minute, your feline friend is lounging peacefully on the couch. And the next moment, they're zipping around the house chasing imaginary prey with fervor.

While these frenetic bursts of energy can be humorous at times, they can also be incredibly annoying when you're trying to work or sleep. Plus, they can lead to broken vases, damaged floors, and unsightly scratches on your couch.

But don't worry! These impromptu bursts of energy are totally normal cat behavior. It's a natural way for your cat to release its pent-up energy and get in touch with its inner hunter.

Below, we are explaining everything you need to know about cat zoomies. We'll explain what cat zoomies are and what causes them. Plus, we're offering up helpful tips on how to help reduce the pent-up energy that leads to these unpredictable bursts of energy.

What are cat zoomies?

Cat zoomies are totally normal behavior for cats, especially in younger cats or kittens. The behavior earned the nickname 'zoomies' after the frenetic 'zooming' your kitty does around the house. But the technical term for cat zoomies is Frenetic Random Activity Periods (or FRAPs). These quick bursts of energy allow your cat to get out any built-up energy, practice their hunting skills, and keep themselves fit.

Most cats get the zoomies seemingly out of nowhere. They'll go from sleeping quietly to darting around the house in a matter of seconds. Then after a victory lap or two, it's right back to bed for another long snooze. — The zoomies are particularly common in kittens and younger cats with more energy to burn. They're also common for indoor cats that don't get out enough of their pent-up energy during playtime.

While the zoomies may be entertaining during the day, they can be incredibly disrupting when you're trying to sleep. Cats run on a different schedule than humans, so they often get them in the middle of the night. They can also damage your couch, chairs, and other furniture with their sharp claws and erratic behavior. A wild case of the zoomies can lead to broken home decor, overturned flower pots, and unsightly scratch marks.

They don't just happen in cats, either. Zoomies are a common behavior in dogs, too— particularly puppies and dogs that are pent-up inside throughout most of the day. Similar to cats, they can be resolved through regular walks, playtime, and trips to the dog park.

Why do cats get the zoomies?

Excess And Pent Up Energy

The most common cause of your cat's zoomies is a build-up of excess energy. As natural predators, cats conserve energy throughout most of the day to use in short bursts during hunting sessions. While this is helpful for surviving in the wild, there's not much use for it inside the house.

In fact, the average cat spends around 15 to 20 hours each day resting or sleeping. The remaining 5 to 10 hours are spent eating, playing, grooming, snuggling with their owner, and exploring their environment. In addition, they are crepuscular, meaning they are naturally most active in the twilight times of dust and dawn when rodent prey is most active. Even though your house cats don't have to hunt to survive, they have a natural instinct to stay active and "hunt" at those times.

Anxiety And Stress

Your kitty's behavior may also be a sign of underlying anxiety. Be sure to give your cat extra playtime and snuggles if they seem particularly anxious or on edge. Keep an eye out for changes in behavior. If you notice their behavior worsening or becoming increasingly more aggressive, it's time to talk to your vet.

Post Litter Box Zoomies

Many cats get the zoomies immediately after using the litter box. Sometimes it's to celebrate a successful trip to the bathroom, and sometimes it's to escape the nasty smell. Regularly clean your cat's litter box to create a more comfortable bathroom environment and prevent urinary infections.

While it's totally normal for your kitty to get the zoomies after they poop, you should always pay attention to changes in your cat's post litter box behavior. It's not a bad idea to consult a vet if you notice changes in stool, vomiting, rapid weight loss or weight gain, or frequent constipation.

Underlying Health Condition

Though far less common, an underlying health condition may also be the cause of your cat's zoomies. Here are a few concerning causes you'd want to bring up with your veterinarian, especially if you have an older cat that suddenly exhibits this new behavior:

  • Fleas— Your cat may be zooming around the house to escape its itchy skin. If you notice your cat scratching and itching more frequently, it may be time to check for fleas, ticks, and other unwanted pests.
  • Poor eyesight or hearing Older cats may get the zoomies due to anxiety caused by failing eyesight or poor hearing. Loud noises and sudden movements may scare them into running around the house.
  • Feline hyperthyroidism - When your cat produces too much of the hormone thyroxine, they may exhibit signs of weight loss, increased appetite and third, and a frantic sense of energy such as zooming out of nowhere. This is especially common in middle-aged or senior cats.

Ways to get rid of a cat's excess energy

Remember, it's completely normal for your cat to get the zoomies. But if you find them to be particularly disruptive, you may want to seek veterinary advice. In the meantime, there are a few ways to help your cat avoid the zoomies:

Encourage daily play sessions

Your cat may simply need a bit more exercise to help get out all its energy. Playing with your pet each day will do more than tire your cat out. It'll strengthen your bond and help them connect with their inner hunter.

Time the play sessions around when your cat typically gets its zoomies. Does your cat go crazy first in the morning? Right after using the litter box? Or perhaps in the middle of the night? Timing it right can help ensure you get a restful night's sleep or an uninterrupted day while working from home.

Provide physically and mentally stimulating toys

The key to preventing the zoomies and keeping your cat happy and healthy is to provide them with both physical and mental stimulation. Different cats prefer different toys, so be sure to try a few different types to see which one your cat prefers. You can also use puzzle feeders that can provide both physical and mental stimulation while they eat.

If you're away from home during the day or don't have much time to play with your cat, you'll need to keep them entertained using engaging cat toys. They'll allow your cat to get in touch with their wild side as they stalk, chase, and catch their "prey." Plus, they'll help create a stronger bond between you and your kitty.

Here are a few cat toys that help your cat let out excess energy without tearing up your furniture:

If your cat like to chew, check out these cat chew toys

Help your cat play through its zoomies

Remember, zoomies are a sign that your cat has too much energy. Instead of punishing your cat for releasing their pent-up energy, help them get it out.

Next time your cat starts tearing around the house, grab a cat toy or two because it's time to play! Cats play and hunt in short bursts, so it'll only take a few minutes of play to tire them out before their next snooze. Even tossing a few pieces of kitty kibble down across the floor can do the trick!

Playing with your cat is crucial to creating a close bond between pet and owner. Plus, it's incredibly entertaining to watch! Not only will playtime help your kitty wind down after its zoomies, but it'll also create a stronger connection between the two of you.


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About the Author

Doctor of veterinary medicine with extensive experience in animal welfare with a strong interest in feline medicine and plans to pursue ABVP-Feline specialty board certification. A key member of many local veterinary associations and avid reader of animal related science journals and studies.