Why Do Cats Get the Zoomies? – 5 Most Popular Reasons

Written by

Amy Sawy

Veterinarian. DVM


Joseph M. Plummer

Veterinarian, DVM, MVZ

why do cats get the zoomies

Cats madly moving around the house, running in laps or up and down the stairs for half an hour, is intriguing. All cat ages experience this abrupt and erratic display of excess energy called “zoomies.”

So, what are cat zoomies? These are moments of cat’s hyperactivity due to unused energy, mostly from lack of activity during the daytime. Its technical term is Frenetic Random Activity Periods or FRAP for short. Let’s dive in for other reasons to explain “why do cats get the zoomies?”

Reasons Why Cats Get the Zoomies


1. Sleeping habit

Many cats conserve energy during the daytime by resting or sleeping. In general, they sleep around 12 to 16 hours during the day. This inactivity causes them to experience an explosion of unwanted energy at night.

As a result, they use up this pent-up energy by zooming in until they can relax again. By the way, most felines fall into a deep slumber after a big meal, so you might want to check your kitty’s diet and feeding time.

2. Lack regular playtime

When a cat so hyper all of a sudden, that’s their way of having their own fun time in life. Like domesticated dogs, indoor cats are so bored living inside the house all day. They need at least two play sessions a day.

Unfortunately, some feline parents do not have the luxury of playing with their kitties, even for at least 10-15 minutes a day.

Since they need more exercise as they age in life, introducing intentional cat exercises a day can help them burn this energy. For obese kitties, this might even aid them in their weight loss.

If you don’t have time to create an agility course for your kitty at home or teach them to run on a treadmill, getting a multi-tiered scratching post and interactive toys can help them get a good workout.

In short, keeping kitties active and entertained throughout the day prevent them from giving you trouble at night. Encourage them not to conserve energy for a long time by increasing playtime and exercises.

3. Hunting instinct triggered

My cat is chasing something invisible in the wee hours of the morning. Often, my kitty’s meowing, trilling, or growling in the house while on the hunt for imaginary prey is disturbing.

This happens because they cannot help but act on their instinct to hunt and chase prey despite having access to food. Interestingly, this instinct to hunt is triggered only when cats have an opportunity. Therefore, helping them sleep at night may stop them from frapping.

4. Nerve stimulation

Cat running around frantically is a typical zooming episode. They feel euphoric after pooping because a nerve in their body was triggered to give them this ecstatic feeling of defecating.

A vet explained that this stimulation comes from the vagus nerve, which runs from the brain to the colon. That trip from the litter box is some sort of a victory lap. And cats express their happiness of emptying themselves through FRAP.

5. Discomfort

Cat get the zoomies after pooping because of pain or discomfort. They run away from their litterbox as fast as they can after defecating because they dislike the smell of their own dung. Also, felines like clean spaces. Perhaps, it’s time to tidy their litter box.

In some cases, their discomfort might be a sign of stress or an underlying medical problem. You might need a vet to check your kitty’s urine or stool. It is best to seek veterinary advice for any weird zoomies after pooping.

How to Help Cats Sleep at Night


Since most felines burn their energy by playing during the daytime and they usually sleep after eating, do the following to encourage them to sleep at night:

  • Set them up for a big meal at dinner
  • Increase their daytime play sessions
  • Change the toys from time to time to stimulate them
  • Play with them before you go to bed
  • Keep out neighboring pets

It is advised to tire your feline pet through mental stimulation aside from play activities.

Scheduling playtime in 5-10 minutes within the day instead of one whole playtime session can stop FRAP episodes. So, invest in late-night games and interactive toys.

When Do Cats Get the Zoomies?

Like dogs, cats cannot control this sudden erratic burst of excess energy, usually at night. Zoomies may occur after a long sleep, when they spot another pet on a frapping episode, or when something is exciting.

How Long Do Kitten Zoomies Last?


Young cats have more energy to burn, so kitten zoomies for 5 minutes or so are more frequent than older kitty pets. However, there’s more talk of zooming by older cats than kitten zoomies even on Reddit.

Are Cat Zoomies Good?

Cat zoomies on old and younger cats are completely normal because it is their way of releasing the extra energy. Moving frantically back and forth around the house helps them relax.

On a side note, the frequency of frapping indicates signs when a cat is in need of a pet owner’s attention or medical help from a licensed veterinarian.

What to Do During Cat Zoomies?


Cats are highly aroused during zoomies, so leave them alone. Wait around 10-15 minutes for your kitty to return to its normal self before cuddling it.

It is best not to do anything with your pet because they may use their pent-up energy to attack you.

When Should I Be Worried About Cat Zoomies?

If the cat’s basic needs of playtime, food, space, and calming environment are met, occasional outburst of zoomies is completely normal. However, the daily incidence of this behavior could be a sign that your cat is upset or understimulated.

An older cat is more prone to frequent bouts of frapping than a younger cat due to changes in sight, smell, and hearing.

In some cases, this crazy behavior could signify anxiety, stress, or a medical problem such as feline hyperthyroidism. Therefore, if your cat races more than usual around the house, it is best to rule out the cause and remedy it with veterinary advice.

Don’t replace professional consultation by accessing information by yourself. Else, it might cause a delay in treatment.


Cat zoomies refer to cats’ periods of hyperactivity, usually in the middle of the night, because they cannot control this sudden surge of extra energy for about 5 minutes to half an hour.

Why do cats get the zoomies? This is a typical cat behavior caused by sleeping habits, lack of regular playtime, hunting instinct, nerve stimulation, and discomfort. There’s nothing to be afraid of a cat’s zoomies unless there is an increase in incidence, especially for an older cat.

It may be a sign of a medical problem such as feline hyperthyroidism, so visiting a licensed veterinarian promptly is encouraged.

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