Why Does My Cat Get the Zoomies?

“Zoomies” are an unmistakable behavior seen in cats. You’ve most likely seen your cat zip around the house with a random burst of energy. Whenever Reginald (my cat) does this it’s quite amusing. This burst of energy is referred to as “Zoomies” or Frenetic Random Activity Periods (FRAPs). It’s quite odd when you see a cat randomly running around at high speeds for a few seconds for seemingly no reason. So, why do cats get the zoomies? Cats get zoomies due to: their sleeping habits, an unpleasant litterbox, hunting instincts, or a medical problem.

Sleep Habits

Cats sleep a lot (12 to 16 hours a day), and have a crepsecular sleep schedule- meaning their peak activity usually occurs during dawn and dusk when hunting is to their advantage. So after your cat wakes up, they have a ton of reserved energy and are ready to utilize it! If you have ever wondered why your cat does their zoomies during the quietists hours of of the night, this is why! The cat’s sleeping habit is designed to reserve your cat’s energy for hunting in the twilight. They can also be seen doing their zoomies during the day too, after a long cat nap.

Unpleasant Litterbox

I often see Reginald do his “victory laps” after going to the bathroom. It is common for cats to do this. I interpret it like he is celebrating his bowel movements, and that is one of the proposed reasons, but there are other explanations for this behavior as well.

One reason they do zoomies after using the potty is because the litterbox is not a pleasant place for your cat to be in. Perhaps it is too dirty for them, too small, or the litter feels uncomfortable to their feet. So zoomies after doing their business could simply mean they want to get out of there as soon as possible.

Another reason your cat zooms out of their litter box, is because instinctually they feel vulnerable taking their time “doing business”. Your cat’s innate urges tell them they need to evade predators that may be able to track them by the smell of their excrement.

Lastly, your cat may be experiencing discomfort with not just the litterbox, but during urination or a bowel movement, if you see them fleeing after going potty. The discomfort could be caused by diarrhea, constipation, UTI, an anal gland infection, or other medical reasons. If you see your cat doing their zoomies after going to the bathroom its worth noting if there is any abnormal stool or blood. If so, get your cat checked out by a vet.


Even though cats have no need to hunt anymore, and get all the food they need from us, their innate urge to hunt still emerges from time to time. Your cat may have this urge because they are bored and have a lot of pent up energy. As a result they get the zoomies and appear to be chasing a ghost, or rather an imaginary prey. If you see your cat exhibiting this behavior, try to quench their hunting urges by throwing a few mouse toys down the hall. They might have been bored and needed the extra stimulation, besides, they will appreciate the bonding time.

Zoomies are more often seen in kittens or adult cats that are home alone a lot and not getting enough physical or mental stimulation. If this is the case for your adult cat, try providing them with things such as a cat tree, puzzle toys, foraging toys, and/ or automatic interactive toys to fulfill your cats needs when you are gone for the day.

Medical Problem

Post litter box zoomies caused by medical problems was already discussed and includes constipation, diarrhea, and an infected anal gland. Other health issues include: anxiety and stress, hyperesthesia syndrome, dementia, changes in sight and hearing, hyperthyroidism, fleas, or allergies and other causes of itchy skin. If you suspect any of these mentioned health concerns, please bring your cat to the vet.

  • Anxiety and stress: Anxiety and stress can make your cat have a lot of built up tension which causes heightened senses. They may uses this energy to run around the house in short bursts. Especially if you introduced a new pet into your home, or just moved to a new home. It could be the feeling of fear itself that is driving your cat to run away from seemingly nothing.
  • Hyperesthesia: Also known as “twitchy cat disease”. This is a complex and poorly understood mild neurological condition. This syndrome is responsible for a set of behaviors such as: frantic scratching, biting or grooming their back, rippling and rolling (twitching) of the skin on their back, and frantic running or jumping.
  • Dementia: In senior cats, zoomies can be a result of odd behavior caused by dementia or cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS)
  • Changes in sight and hearing: If your senior cat’s sight, hearing, and/or even sense of smell is declining, they can easily misinterpret their surrounding senses as a threat or become spooked easily- triggering them to zoom away.
  • Hyperthyroidism: The clinical term for zoomies, Frenetic Random Activity Periods (FRAPs) is commonly described in cats with hyperthyroidism. A hyperactive thyroid causes an increase in energy levels which may result in zoomies.
  • Fleas: Cats infested with fleas perform zoomies in an attempt to evade the nasty sensation of flea bites.
  • Allergies and other causes of itchy skin: Just like trying to evade the bites of fleas, a cat with itchy skin will often do zoomies to evade the uncomfortable itchy feeling of their skin.

Should You Stop Cat Zoomies?

Do you ever witness your cat have a random burst of the zoomies and wonder if he’s okay? Should you intervene and try to soothe your high strung cat? Absolutely not, unless of course he’s knocking things down and ripping the house apart! Just let your cat ride it out, and get all that pent up energy out. It’s part of his instincts to have random bursts of energy designed for hunting time. It’s also a natural urge to do zoomies post-poops because they innately feel vulnerable to predators.

However, if your cat’s zoomies are causing him to be destructive, noisy in the middle of the night, or they do it to cope with stress, anxiety, boredom, and not having enough exercise, I would highly suggest the following to prevent zoomies:

  • Find the time to expend his energy by playing with him- get the lazor pointer out!
  • To ease boredom, provide entertainment for when you leave the house. Give your cat foraging toys, automatic interactive toys, a cat tree, cat grass, and a scratching post.
  • If your cat’s zoomies is caused by stress, try to find the source and eliminate it. It might be something noisy, or another pet’s behavior that is causing his stress.
  • If post-poop zoomies occur and you suspect it’s caused by a crowded, unclean litterbox, or uncomfortable litter- change it.
  • If your cat’s zoomies are disrupting your sleep, try changing his morning feeding schedule and tiring him out with games during the day or right before bedtime.
  • If you notice that your cat has recently started performing zoomies regularly, or their zoomies seem to distress him, bring him to the vet as it may be hyperthyroidism or something else health related.

Why Does My Cat Get the Zoomies? Final Thoughts

I think zoomies are awesome because 1) its amusing, 2) it provides my slightly overweight cat exercise, and 3) they are generally nothing to worry about. It’s just a natural urge that traces back to hunting instincts and the cat’s sporadic sleep cycle. However, if your cat is unusually increasing the frequency of their zoomies, and they seem distressed, there might be a medical reason behind it, whether it’s stress, fleas, hyperthyoidism, or aging. Otherwise, next time your cat exhibits some healthy zoomies just toss in a mouse toy to help him get all that energy out!

How often does your cat do their zoomies? Feel free to drop your answer in the comment section below, and check out our latest articles here!

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