Has your cat ever had the zoomies? Your cat suddenly starts running around like crazy, as fast as she can, doing laps around the room while jumping over the couches or up and down the stairs. It is very funny and entertaining to watch, but at the same time you’re almost scared she’s going to run into something and hurt herself. But she also seems to be having an awesome time. Is it harmless fun or something to worry about?
This behaviour is called the zoomies, and most cats get them at some time in their life. Cat zoomies, also known as Frenetic Random Activity Periods or FRAPs, are a normal and fun activity for cats, although it might drive you a bit crazy if they happen at 2am in the morning.
When does it happen?
Zoomies or ‘frapping’ usually seems to happen out of nowhere. Sometimes it seems like your cat has ‘seen’ something invisible and starts running, or your cat may be in a playful mood and it can escalate from play. Cats also practise their stalking, hunting and chasing behaviour and this can lead to zoomies. There can be many reasons for the onset. Running is fun after all! Kittens and young cats are more prone to get them, as they are full of energy and this can be one way of burning some of that excess energy. But sometimes even older cats can get them. Cats sleep most of the day when we’re at work, so when we come home they are awake and full of pent-up energy.
Should I be worried?
It could be as simple as your cat needing more exercise. Make time every day to play with your cat, and provide her with some enrichment toys and food puzzles. Swop out her toys regularly so she doesn’t get bored with the same toys.
There are some medical reasons your cat may start displaying this behaviour. If your older or usually lazy cat suddenly becomes abnormally active, restless or behaves oddly, your vet can test for any underlying health problems, such as feline hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid).
Older cats suffering from cognitive dysfunction syndrome or dementia may also start running around uncharacteristically. Cats who experience physical changes, like loss of sight or hearing, can also start zooming around, and if it is odd behaviour for your cat a vet visit is recommended.
Behavioural issues may be anxiety- or stress-related, where your cat can become hyper-sensitive to stimuli in her environment and react by zooming around. Even flea or insect bites might drive her to run to get rid of the irritation or severe itching, so check her fur for these nasty parasites.
If your cat displays any sudden change in behaviour, it is a good idea to take her to your veterinarian to rule out any medical issues. If the behaviour seems distressing to your cat in any way, and there is no medical explanation, consult a qualified cat behaviourist for help.
What to do
Have fun watching your cat release some pent-up energy! If this is happening at night and disturbing your sleep, play with her regularly during the day and early evening, and feed her close to bedtime.