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What Are the Cat Zoomies and Are They Ever Anything to Worry About?

Cat zoomies are usually funny and harmless! But are cat zoomies ever a sign that your cat needs to see a vet? What if cat zoomies are disturbing your sleep?

Sassafras Lowrey  |  Mar 5th 2018

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 cat zoomies might necessitate a trip to the vet. Let’s learn more.

First, what are cat zoomies?

A calico cat walking up the stairs.

Cat zoomies come in many different forms — like when your cat runs up and down the stairs. Photography ©krblokhin | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Cats with the zoomies often get a bit of a glint in their eyes and then start rapidly moving about. 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 technical name: Frenetic Random Activity Periods or FRAPs. FRAPs are a surprising and sometimes alarming (especially in the middle of the night), yet completely normal, cat behavior.

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.

Cat zoomies/FRAPs are caused by many different things. 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 about cat zoomies?

Zoomies are a 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 have a tendency 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.

Tell us: Does your cat get the zoomies? How does your cat usually zoom around?

Sassafras Lowrey is an award-winning author. Her novels have been honored by organizations ranging from the Lambda Literary Foundation to the American Library Association. Sassafras is a Certified Trick Dog Instructor, and assists with dog agility classes. Sassafras lives and writes in Brooklyn with her partner, a senior Chihuahua mix, a rescued Shepherd mix and a Newfoundland puppy, along with two bossy cats and a semi-feral kitten. Learn more at

Thumbnail: Photography ©stocknroll | iStock / Getty Images Plus. 

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