Picture this — you’re sitting around, having a quiet evening when suddenly your cat barrels out of nowhere, running around the house like a madwoman. This behavior is called the cat zoomies, and it’s probably completely normal … but there are some instances when it might necessitate a trip to the vet.
First, what are cat zoomies?
Cats with the zoomies often get a bit of a glint in their eyes and then start rapidly moving. These rapid movements may take the form of running laps around the house, zipping out from under tables, going up and down the stairs, or running on and off your lap while meowing loudly. And then — as quickly as the cat zoomies started — your cat may just relax again.
I call cat zoomies the kitty Olympics in our house because of the sprints my three cats will do from one floor to the other. Cat zoomies have a scientific name: Frenetic Random Activity Periods or FRAPs. FRAPs are surprising and sometimes alarming (especially in the middle of the night), yet completely normal, cat behavior.
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What causes the cat zoomies?
Kittens and young cats naturally have lots of energy and generally experience zoomies more frequently than older cats, though inspiration can strike cats of any age. Even my 17-year-old cats get inspired to run around like kittens when they experience the zoomies.
Many different things cause FRAPs. Cats may start zooming if another cat in the house has the zoomies, cats might zoom if they’re chasing a bug, and cats can zoom in the middle of the night when their human gets up to use the bathroom. Sometimes it feels like cats get the zoomies out of nowhere, or it seems like they’ve seen a ghost.
When should you worry?
Zoomies are normal behavior for cats and a great way to burn off excess energy. But, if you find your cat frequently zooming frantically around the house, it may indicate that she needs more exercise. Increase the amount of time you spend playing with your cat. Enrichment toys, in particular, may help.
If your cat suddenly starts experiencing the zoomies regularly, becomes unusually active or seems distressed by her cat zoomies, bring your kitty in for a checkup with your veterinarian. Increased and unexpected bursts of energy, especially in older cats, could be a sign of an underlying health condition such as hyperthyroidism.
For some cats, zoomies tend to hit in the middle of the night when the rest of the family is asleep. If your kitty only gets the zoomies when you are asleep, and if your household is regularly losing sleep because of your kitty’s antics, it might be time to adjust your morning feeding schedule or increase the amount of play your cat is getting during the day. If the behavior persists, consult your veterinarian to make sure there isn’t something medically wrong with your cat that is causing her to struggle with settling down at night.