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Why Does My Cat Get the “Zoomies”?

grey tabby cat running

Cat owners know that just about every day, at random times, cats often have something affectionately called the “Zoomies.” If your cat suddenly starts running around like crazy, jumping on things, and running up and down the stairs, you have experienced the “Zoomies.” 

Why does my cat get the Zoomies? Many cats, especially cats that do not get to go outside, have a lot of pent up energy. Running around at top speed helps them get rid of that energy. Some of them will run around after eating or using the litterbox too. 

Occasional Zoomies are nothing to worry about, can be very entertaining to watch, and make for some amusing videos! However, sometimes they can be a sign of other issues that may require your intervention. This article will help you determine if your cat is just exerting energy in a healthy way, or if you may need to schedule a trip to your veterinarian.

What Are the Zoomies?

Your cat may suddenly come running from the other room like their tail is on fire. Some of the crazy things you may experience include:

orange and white cat jumping
  • Running up and down the stairs
  • Running or jumping over the furniture
  • Jumping on and off you
  • Meowing and howling
  • Running or jumping sideways
  • Puffed up tail

If you have other pets, they may join in on the fun. However, this usually causes the Zoomies to stop. Your cat will likely stop and stare at your other pets and wonder why they are ruining all the fun. Or, your cat will just suddenly lay down and act as if nothing has happened. That is rather common in many house cats. 

How to Tell if There is Something More to the Zoomies

If your sedentary cat suddenly starts racing around when they have never really done so before, this could cause concern. Several things could be bothering your cat that would make them suddenly have the Zoomies when they never did before. Some of the reasons for sudden zooming include:

  • Anxiety
  • Certain medical conditions
  • Boredom
  • Dirty litter box

Your Cat Might Be Stressed Out

Sometimes your cat can get stressed out just like people do. In fact, any animal can have anxiety. There are many reasons for anxiety in cats. Luckily, you may notice particular things that will help you figure out why they are anxious. While you do not necessarily need to run off to find a pet therapist, you should at least look for signs of what is causing the stress. 

Any kind of medical issues can cause anxiety in your feline. Some examples include:

  • Pain from an injury 
  • Aging issues like eyesight or hearing loss, 
  • Pain when using the litterbox 

They could also be experiencing some type of neurological issue that is upsetting them. Contact your veterinarian if you notice that your cat is: 

  • Not eating 
  • Drinking more or less than usual 
  • Has diarrhea or is constipated

Another reason for stress Zoomies could be that something scared your cat. If your cat is not just running around but is also hiding under beds or furniture, avoiding you, or trying to run out the door, you should try to figure out what is frightening your cat. If you cannot figure it out, your vet may be able to help. 

Separation anxiety may also be a factor for your cat, especially if you do not know much about their history. For example, if you adopted your cat from a rescue shelter or pound, they may be afraid of being alone in a strange place again. They might have been through multiple homes. That can stress out a cat if they are not given enough time to settle into a new environment. 

Medical Reasons for the Zoomies

Although it may be fun to watch your cat zoom through the house with their ears back and tail fuzzy, you should watch for other signs of medical illness that could be a cause as well. Many medical conditions can cause your feline to run around. Some of these include:

  • Fleas: they will also be scratching like crazy
  • Allergies: your cat may also itch and sneeze
  • Urinary tract infection: may cause them to meow when urinating and use the litter box more often
  • Constipation: watch to see if your cat is getting in the litter box more often but not pooping
  • Hearing or sight changes: watch for other signs like bumping into things or not coming when called
  • Diabetes: often causes weight loss and drinking more water
  • Hyperthyroidismmay make them drink more water and lose weight

Does Your Cat Need a Friend?

Cats get bored just like we do. Just think if you were trapped in a house every day with no friends to hang out with. That is how your cat feels if they do not have anyone to play with. Of course, you can play with them, but you cannot do it all the time. They may just need someone of their own species to play with sometimes. 

You can buy them hundreds of toys, but it does not compare to having another feline to play with. They also like to stalk and jump on each other. Although many people think that cats are independent and solitary beings, they really do love to play. If there is a dog in the house, your cat might play with them, but most cats and dogs play differently, so it may not work out as well. 

grey and white cat running outside

That does not mean that you need to get another cat just for your cat to play with. If you want another cat, that is fine. But do not get another cat just to occupy your first cat if you are not prepared for a second feline. An alternative to adopting a new feline would be to have play dates with other cat owners. That will often work just as well. 

Litter Box Woes

If your cat’s litter box has not been cleaned in a few days, your cat may be trying to give you a hint. Your cat does not like having to step all over their feces when trying to find a spot to go. 

It could also be that your cat’s urine or feces smells strong, and they just want to get away quickly. Remember, they cannot flush. If their urine or feces smells different than usual, they will sometimes freak out, running away as fast as they can.

If you suspect a change in litterbox odor is the culprit and have not fed your cat anything new lately, you should take your cat to the vet to make sure they do not have a parasitic infection. Sometimes parasites or worms can change the smell and consistency of your cat’s feces. A urinary tract infection can also change the odor of your cat’s urine.  

Then again, some cats just love the way they feel after they poop. Many people call it poo-phoria. Veterinarians say that cats have a vagus nerve just like we do, and when they poop, it triggers good feelings in the brain. 

What Should You Do?

If you really want your cat to slow down and chill out, try grabbing a toy and playing with them. Or get some of its favorite treats and see how fast it comes running to you instead of running around the house. If you cannot get your cat’s attention, shake the treat container so they can hear it. Do not try grabbing your cat to stop them; you may get scratched, bit, or even injure your cat. 

There is really nothing wrong with letting your cat run around like crazy once in a while. In fact, it can be good for your cat as long as there is no physical or psychological reason for it. It does not usually last more than a few minutes, and it is fun to watch. As long as your cat is not sick or stressed out, let them enjoy their Zoomies!

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