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Why Do Cats Get “The Zoomies”? Causes & When to Worry

Dean Eby

By Dean Eby

chartreux cat lying_Piqsels

It’s something that practically every cat owner has experienced. Often, it occurs while you’re asleep in the middle of the night or while everyone is relaxed watching a movie together. In the midst of the quiet, suddenly, there’s a great noise as your feline comes tearing through the home at breakneck speed, making as much noise as possible, careening through the twisting labyrinth of passageways in your home. They’ll barrel up the stairs, down the hallways, through small passageways, and don’t seem anywhere close to slowing down.

Most of the time, this is a rather natural behavior for you to see in a feline, which is why pretty much all cat owners have seen it. But sometimes, it’s an indication of an underlying problem that you might be able to fix.

What Are the Zoomies?

While commonly called the zoomies, this behavior has a scientific name: Frenetic Random Activity Periods or FRAPs for short. Cats of any age can experience FRAPs; even senior felines often start running around at high speed for no apparent reason. It’s perfectly normal behavior that all cats partake in. Therefore, it’s not usually something worth worrying about.

maine coon cat_Michelle Raponi_Pixabay
Image Credit: Michelle Raponi, Pixabay

What Causes the Zoomies?

Often, it feels like the zoomies are caused by absolutely nothing. Other times, it seems like the zoomies are just a reaction your cat has when it’s too quiet in the house. Or maybe it’s actually just trying to disturb your sleep! In truth, there are many reasons why cats get the zoomies.

Sometimes, it starts with a bug that your cat starts to chase. You’ll also notice that the zoomies are infectious, so, when one cat gets the zoomies, other cats usually follow suit. Cats also commonly get the zoomies when there’s unexpected movement, such as their person waking up in the middle of the night to visit the restroom.

When Are the Zoomies Bad?

Even though the zoomies are a normal feline behavior that’s generally caused by something innocuous, there are times when you should pay a bit closer attention to what your cat’s actions are trying to communicate. The zoomies should only be a semi-regular thing. Your cat shouldn’t be suddenly zooming around the house a dozen times every day. If you start to notice that this behavior is happening a little too frequently, then it could be a sign to clue you in.

One reason that cats might start to have the zoomies all the time is that they’re not getting enough exercise. That excess energy is building up inside of them, and it comes out in the form of erratic energetic explosions. In such cases, interactive toys can often help, providing both a physical and mental outlet. These toys can keep your cat engaged mentally while also providing the exercise and stimulation your cat requires.

Cute crossbreed Persian cat playing with a ball
Image Credit: Boyloso, Shutterstock

If it seems like your cat suddenly started experiencing the zoomies too often out of nowhere, then you might want to take it to the vet for a checkup. This is also the best bet if your cat seems to be stressed out by its zooming behavior. In rare cases, these bursts of energy are caused by underlying thyroid conditions.

The zoomies can also be bad when it’s affecting your family’s sleep. If your cat is constantly starting its zooming behavior in the middle of the night and waking up the whole family, something’s got to give. In this case, it’s probably your cat’s feeding schedule or exercise. You might try playing with your cat more in the evening to tire it out, or adjusting your morning or evening feeding times. But if you can’t seem to get the behavior under control, visit the vet and see if there’s perhaps a medical condition causing your cat to be unable to sleep at night.


Under normal circumstances, the zoomies are nothing to worry about. Almost all cats partake in this behavior on occasion. Still, you should be aware of the signs your cat might give when things are not all good. Look for excessive zooming behavior and stress caused by the zooming as indicators that there’s an underlying issue and seek a vet’s opinion for treatment.

More questions about your cat’s health and behavior? Take a look at our posts on:

Featured Image Credit: Piqsels

Dean Eby

Authored by

A true Renaissance man, Dean Eby has worked a variety of hands-on careers, including home building and remodeling, personal training, and now shares his experiences and understanding as a writer. An avid outdoorsman, Dean spends much of his time adventuring through the diverse terrain of the southwest United States with his closest companion, his dog, Gohan. ...Read more

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