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

cat zoomies
Photograph: Nils Jacobi/Getty Images

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. 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. 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.

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.

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

Featured Photograph Photograph: Nils Jacobi/Getty Images

Read more about cat behavior on Catster.com:

52 thoughts on “What Are the Cat Zoomies and Are They Ever Anything to Worry About?”

  1. Six months! Well I’m afraid you’ve got quite a while ahead of you to experience your kittens zoomies…. Don’t allow yourself to be tired of it. Embrace the zoomie moments. . Like kids, cats grow fast. They may still zoom when grown, but I find it interesting and amusing.. good luck , enjoy your baby!

    1. My cat typically spazzes out when we are awake at night. She goes on top of the cabinets and meows and runs back and forth.. also, as it’s Christmas she was starting a spaz on some wrapping paper too lol.

  2. My 18 year old, Lucy always get the zoomies, but sadly on Saturday afternoon, I was moving some furniture and my bed frame was not where it usually is and she started zooming, she seemed fine, I tried to get out of her way because sometimes she almost runs me over! But Sat. night, I noticed that when I brushed her, she meowed and hissed and I also noticed that she was walking funny plus her left abdomen looked swollen. I had to wait until this morning, Monday for the vet to open and took her right in. She has 4 broken ribs and a possible hernia. : ( She either took a huge blow to the corner of the bed frame or other piece of furniture or she tried to climb up to a high area while zooming, and lost her balance and injured herself. She is on pain meds and I am watching her alot….I feel so bad because she enjoys running around like that, and I even coach her on by saying, “Where’s Lucy”? I feel so bad that I had all that furniture out and that I had not kitty proofed my apartment, knowing that she is old and does this often. Please pray she does not have a hernia because she cannot go through surgery at her age and she already has acute rhinitis and breathing issues. Pray she heal soon. Thank you.

    1. Plz give Calmex for cats (1 ml per 4.5 kg twice a day) under vet prescription. it is a natural supplement. It did wonders to my wild kitty when she went in deep trauma for roguish manhandling during neuter while in silent heat, by an extremely poor example of a vet.
      & Just keep showering love. They r fighters. Lucy will get well soon :)

  3. My cat’s crazy sometimes and when he’s got the zoomies, it’s usually in the middle of the night or late in the evening. I’m typing this comment at almost 1am just after my cat woke up from a quick nap on my bed and suddenly got the zoomies. But he also often gets the zoomies around 4 or 5 am. Sleepless nights.

  4. I had a cat who used to chase things that don’t exist. Also, sometimes she’d stare into space for quite a while, completely fascinated and very focused. I’d follow her gaze, but there was nothing there. She was a weird one.

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  6. Both my cats, siblings, are female and 16 or 17 years old. They get the zoomies whenever they use the litter box or when we come back home after being away all day. They’ll run thru the house and scratch on their cat tree or scratch box. Sometimes, they chase each other and wrestle.

    1. I have a mother and daughter. I don’t mind it except when they get a case if it at night. The daughter seems to get hers right after her first feeding in the morning.

      I have tracked my (Crazy Kitty) that’s what I call it at night only when I’ve been out of the house all day and they can sleep uninterrupted during the day which leaves them wide awake at night… other than that… the mother rarely gets it but her daughter can occasionally get her to have the cry kitty but the daughter is mostly after first feeding.

      I always know cause that look in her eye!!!


  7. Zoomies or twitchy behavior may also be caused by anal distress such as kooties, poor hygiene that may require a privacy trim to allow your cat to clean herself/himself, or anal glands that need expressing.

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  9. I have two three year old Ragdolls and they recently started getting the zoomies. They feed off each other. One will start and then the other. They’ll tear up and down the stairs, up and down their cat trees, up and down the halls. It’s 3:00am and I woke up with a migraine (it’s gone now) and they’ve been zooming for about 20 minutes.

    They’ll crash anytime and sleep for hours.

    1. My cat is driving me crazy zooming around in the morning and at night. I am losing sleep. She is 6 months old. I just can’t stand it anymore.

  10. My cat, Nannerz, jumps from couch to couch to his tree while “roaring”. When he has the zoomies, I try to incorporate his favorite toys. He’s still pretty energetic for going on 11 years old!

  11. My girl, Paris, zooms just before a storm. Air pressure change hurts her head and she tries to outrun it. She races from the back of the apartment to the front door then back again. Makes a sharp left into the Living Room, plants her feet and calls MEOOOOW WOW WOW. Then she jumps on my lap.

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  13. I have 2 males, 2 and 11 months. They would zoom after each other in the house. Now, they live outside where they can burn off all that energy. They are so much happier. I give them food and water every day, check them for fleas and medicate if necessary, and make sure to give them scratches and kisses. We recently made them a habitat for the winter to keep them warm. I love my boys!

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  15. My cat Tiki is zooming right now! He’s tearing up the carpets. Sometimes I think he’s training for some sort of sport. Maybe a triathlon?

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  18. So,one day i didnt find my cat.It turns out she was at my neighbors (a thing that casually happens) the last time I saw her there she cam alone to me seeing I’m her owner so I took her back. This time she was with the neighbors’ kids . The brought it to me back.After that ,seeing it happened one more time,I decided she maybe was hungry so I went bringing the food. When I come back, she wanted to go again at my neighbors but she came back alone. When I took her I thought maybe she found another cat or another cat. Then I saw she had the zoomies.Meowing loudly and running everywear and hiding from me like I was scaring her. I was trying to scare her every time but never getting scared. Now every time I clap she runs fast. Worried she would go somwhere and she would not know how to come back, I put her in the garage with water and food. What does she have. It all happened now.

  19. Every cat I’ve ever had would do this; my family always called it “freak mode” for some reason. Usually I take it as a sign that kitty needs to be played with. When my cat Zelda starts zooming around I get out one of her favorite toys and throw it for her to chase. Sometimes she even brings it back for me to throw again!

  20. My Beau gets the zoomies from a crouching start in the bathtub -his pupils always dilate to the max, his ears go kind of crooked, then zingo! he’s headed for the kitchen, where he does a parkour bound off the kitchen door, then back to the bathroom. I think he’s timing it for a competition. His sister thinks he’s nuts – she prefers wrestling, or kicking her stuffed mouse to death. I can’t figure what sets him off.

  21. All of my cats over my lifetime have had the “zoomies”. But one, named Pretti Kitti, a calico female, was unique. She would gallop/stomp down the hallway, jump up and slide across the wood desk, and just speed up when I’d yell. Papers and books flying everywhere!

  22. I read a book once that claimed cats can see ghosts…..ever have your cat just stare at the corner of a wall or ceiling…lol

    1. Hi Susan,

      Check out these articles!

  23. @Rusty, LOL. My one cat does that as well! Seems like he is afraid his poo with chase him. LOL Actually does it after peeing as well. silly …. My other cat will charge up and down the stairs and if the weather allows onto the deck, jump on the railing run along (scares me a bit) and then zooms back inside. It is called the “Kitty Rodeo” here. They are such great animals. >^..^<

  24. our cats simba (about 7 mths old) & 3yo Puss Puss have regular “zoomie” moments but we call it their “psycho kitty phase” they become like ninja kitties literally leaping off the wall & on and off the window sill while launching themselves at each other in games of chasey or dive bombing each other
    we just put it down to being like a cat version of a human sugar rush lol and try to avoid tripping over them while they play
    what makes it even more hilarious is that Puss Puss is usually so bone lazy that he flops down for a “catnap” anywhere anytime, so being like this is a good form of exercise for him but for me is like having toddlers in the house again
    the best part is that at the end of their “zoomies” they want nothing more than to curl up next to us and have “kitty kisses” and cuddles
    our 6yo ragdoll x birman cat Crystal just looks on like a spoilt Diva & watches them with bemused disdain and attitude as if she wouldn’t ever lower herself to “that standard”
    all in all if this is what keeps them happy and healthy and doesn’t bother us or them then i’ll continue laughing at the entertainment they give us with this behaviour

  25. My cat Stinkweed frequently has a case of the zoomies for absolutely no good reason. His favorite “zoom” is to catch me sitting on the “loo” and will leap from a crouching position 6-10 feet away and land on my chest with his arms ( and claws) around my neck!

    1. I can’t believe I’m the first one to comment on your cat that is hilarious and also alarming
      I realize it was two years ago but I just saw it today and I’m worried about you????

  26. My guy is about 4 Years old they told me when I adopted him. He has the zombies all the time. Whether it’s after the litter box or in the middle of the night. I chalk it up to lots of energy & believe me I even play with him all the time. Nothing stops the zombies till he’s worn out.

  27. My male cat has a love of racing past people going up and down the stairs. It’s one reason I always keep one hand on the bannister, lol.

  28. I call this The Kitty 500 because at one time or another all three of my cats will do their zoomies as laps around the house. My youngest female cat gets them after she uses the litterbox. I’ve heard that referred to as Poop-phoria and it’s hilarious. She runs around and meows like crazy as if to say, “I feel so much better!”

  29. I wanted to mention this can sometimes be a sign of a sticky poopy on their behind or even diarrhea. My cats have had moments when a poopy was stuck dangling from their rear end. They obviously didn’t like the sensation of something following them and they ran. Also another cat I had years ago had a serious disease that gave her frequent diarrhea. I could always tell when it was coming because she’d start running around like a crazy woman.

  30. I’ve known three cats who had moments of catelepcy (as we have called it). My two Siamese (litter mates) would take a “Victory Lap” after making a deposit in the litter box. I still have one of that pair who is 18 and he does occasionally still take a Victory Lap. The other cat was another Siamese that belonged to my brother. She would take off on a round of the house, never missing an object, and ultimately ending with a slide in the bath tub. She did, however, find the tub full of water one day and rather gave up on that idea.

  31. My cat (now deceased) came from a neighbour (now deceased\ whose declining health meant she was no longer able to look after the cat. My neighbour told me Sylvia (the cat) had “mad moments” when she’d dash around for no reason.

    Sylvia did indeed have mad moments. A couple of times I was in the right place to see the initiation of a mad moment. Sylvia crouched down into a position ready to pounce on, or run after, prey. She hunkered down and wiggled her behind a little, like a golfer preparing to tee off. And then zooooooom.

    I couldn’t see anything for her to chase after. If there’s been a fruit fly or something then hunkering down wouldn’t have helped (because it would have flown away while she was wiggling her behind). Anything larger would have been visible to me.

    My conclusion is that she was pretending to hunt. Whether working off energy or for practise or just as a game, I don’t know.

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