What is feline zoomia and is it even something to worry about?

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Imagine the following: Suddenly, your cat appears out of nowhere and starts running around the house like crazy. This behavior is called cat zoomies and is probably perfectly normal … but in some cases, it may require a visit to the vet. Find out more here.

First of all, what are cat zoomies?


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 zoomies often get a slight twinkle in their eyes and then start moving quickly. These quick movements can manifest themselves by doing laps around the house, jumping out from under tables, running up and down stairs, or running on laps while meowing loudly. And then – just as quickly as the feline gymnastics began – your cat can relax again.

I call cat zoomies at our house the cat Olympics because it involves my three cats sprinting from one floor to the next. Cat zoomies have a scientific name: Frenetic Random Activity Periods, or FRAPs. FRAPs are surprising and sometimes disturbing (especially in the middle of the night) but perfectly normal cat behavior.

What are the causes of feline zoomies?

Kittens and young cats naturally have a lot of energy, and in general zoomies occur more often in them than in older cats. Even my 17-year-old cats are inspired to run around like kittens when they experience zoomies.

FRAPs are triggered by many different things. Cats can start zooming when another cat in the house has zoomies, cats can zoom when chasing a bug, and cats can zoom in the middle of the night when their human gets up to go to the bathroom. Sometimes it looks like the cat is zooming out of nowhere, or like it’s seeing a ghost.

When should you be concerned?

Zooming is normal cat behavior and a good way to release excess energy. However, if you notice that your cat is often running around the house like crazy, it may be a sign that he needs more exercise. Extend the amount of time you play with your cat. Enrichment toys in particular can help.

If your cat suddenly starts to fidget regularly, becomes unusually active or seems distressed by its fidgeting, you should have your cat examined by a vet. Increased and unexpected bursts of energy, especially in older cats, can be a sign of a medical disorder such as hyperthyroidism.

Some cats have a tendency to approach in the middle of the night when the rest of the family is asleep. If your cat is only occupied when you are asleep, and if your household regularly loses sleep due to cat antics, it may be time to adjust your cat’s morning feeding or increase your cat’s playtime during the day. If this behavior persists, consult your veterinarian to make sure your cat doesn’t have any health problems that make it difficult for him to rest at night.

Tell us about it: Is your cat this hyperactive? How does your cat usually approach?

Featured Photo Photo: Nils Jacobi/Getty Images

By Sassafras Lowrey , March 16, 2020

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