Unless you have an exceptionally calm cat, the cat zoomies are something most cat parents are familiar with. Typically your cat will be doing their own thing, just being a little cutie, when suddenly they’ll leap into action. They may bolt across the room or leap onto the cat tower. They may dart from room to room and then back again.
Your cat has the zoomies.
Whether you find the cat zoomies annoying or just another quirky cat behavior, you may be wondering what exactly are the zoomies and why do cats zoom? Thankfully, I’m here to explain the reasoning behind them and how to best respond when your cat has the zoomies.
What Are The Zoomies?
Before we delve into the reasoning why cats get the zoomies, we should probably make sure we’re talking about the same thing. What exactly are the zoomies? The zoomies are a brief, sudden period of time where your cat will have seemingly endless energy. Scientifically, they’re known as a frenetic random activity period, or a FRAP. Your cat is frapping.
It’s okay to giggle at that because I definitely still do.
The burst of activity will last for a few minutes and then suddenly cease. Your cat may even go right from having the zoomies to napping! In other words, it will end as rapidly as it begins.
Behaviors your cat may exhibit when they get the zoomies include:
- Jumping on furniture
- Running full speed across the room
- Climbing up high at a rapid pace
- Running around a room repeatedly
- Dashing between rooms
- Rolling around on the floor
Why Do Cats Get The Zoomies?
The zoomies can happen at any point in time during the day. There do seem to be some situations where cats are more likely to zoom than others. For example, there is a phenomenon colloquially called “the poop zoomies” where cats will get a sudden burst of energy following a poop. Thankfully, it usually doesn’t involve the cat running around pooping all over your home.
We aren’t fully sure why cats get the poop zoomies, but one thought is that it stimulates the vagus nerve and leads to your cat feeling really good. It could also be because your cat has an instinct to run away in case predators detect them.
Cats may get the zoomies around dusk and dawn. This is because, in nature, they’re usually most active around these times. They hunt small mice and other creatures who also are most active around sunrise or sunset so it makes sense that cats would be awake during these times. This is known as a crepuscular sleep/wake pattern, which happens to be my favorite word. I am constantly trying to sneak it into a sentence so if you book a consultation with me, chances are it will come up at least once or twice.
Cat zoomies could also be a result of simple boredom. Because of this, your cat may get the zoomies at any time during the day. This is especially true if they’re not getting enough play or don’t have enough to do in their environment. Cats aren’t easy pets and they have a lot of mental needs that need to be met if you don’t want a behavior concern to arise!
In some cases, your cat may also have more energy or have the zoomies more frequently due to a medical problem. If you notice any accompanying changes in your cat’s behavior, especially changes in eating or drinking habits, it’s a good idea to set up a vet appointment.
At the end of the day, we’re really not fully sure why the cat zoomies happen as there isn’t scientific evidence suggesting one cause. There are many ideas, but we still aren’t positive what purpose they serve. Chances are there are multiple reasons behind the same behavior so each situation is unique.
What Do I Do About Cat Zoomies?
Chances are if you’re here, you’re either just curious about the zoomies or you’ve got a case of the cat zoomies that’s bothering you. While every situation is different and the solution ultimately depends on the underlying cause, there are some steps you can take to address the zoomies. It may not completely eliminate them, but you can at least reduce their severity or address any of the aspects of them that are really bothering you.
Play With Your Cat (Strategically)
Remember two paragraphs ago how I said one of the causes of the zoomies is boredom? You can employ a strategy I call “predirecting.” It’s different than redirecting a behavior in that you address the behavior before it happens. It’s very effective as you won’t become frustrated because the behavior shouldn’t happen!
One of the best ways to prevent a bored cat is to play with them. In the case of the cat zoomies, we don’t want to just have you play with your cat any old way. You need to be smart about it. Pay attention to when your cat tends to get the zoomies and time playing so it occurs prior to when they’d typically begin darting around your home. Even better, you may want to feed your cat at the end of a play session to make the play more satisfying. This completes the full hunting cycle your cat would go through in nature.
For play, I recommend using wand toys to really play with your cat and complete the hunt cycle. Of course, you can’t constantly play with your cat so you may also want to try a food puzzle. These are great as they can be set out and combine the joys of play and eating.
If your cat is frapping late at night (I am so sorry or you’re welcome, whichever applies), you will want to time play strategically in a different way. One of the play sessions should be close to when you are planning to go to bed. This will get their need to hunt satisfied so they can make it through the night without issue.
Redirect Your Cat
This one is the, hopefully obvious, alternative to the above. If you can’t predirect your cat, redirect them!
Rather than fighting the burst of energy, embrace it as an opportunity to have some fun with your cat! Grab a toy and get them going in a play session for 10 to 15 minutes. This is usually how long the zoomies will last before wearing off anyway so it satisfies a need while also being a good amount of time for a play session anyway.
Secure The Environment
As you can’t really fully eliminate the zoomies, you want to make sure the environment is safe for them. This is a good thing to do anyway, honestly!
Focus on things that could fall on your cat or things that you don’t want to get broken. For furniture, an anti-tip kit is a good idea to prevent a jump from resulting in injury. If you have anything on a shelf you don’t want knocked over, consider museum putty or museum gel.
Don’t Worry About It
While there are a few things you could do, in the end you may not need to do anything. Cat zoomies are a normal behavior and aren’t dangerous. While they may be annoying, they’re not going to hurt your cat. That said, if there is an element of boredom or anxiety, it’s a good idea to try to address that. Working with your vet to solve any medical issues is also a really good idea.
If your cat’s zoomies are bothering your or keeping you up at night, then there may be reason to investigate further further what’s causing them or try to address them. Even normal behaviors can be bothersome if taken to the extreme. If you need some assistance in figuring out what to do, don’t hesitate to set up a consultation so we can figure out what’s going on!