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Zoomies Explained: The Inside Scoop on the Famous Feline Frenzy

Does your cat sometimes go from zero to frisky in the blink of an eye? Suddenly start racing around as if being startled and agitated by unseen forces?

Related behavior may include:

  • High-speed dashes through one or more rooms
  • Swatting at and toying with invisible mice
  • Pouncing on carpets and couches as if on an urgent mission
  • Perhaps punctuating the mayhem with an occasional yowl or yelp

Seeing your furry friend in a frenzy can be cause for alarm — but fear not, it’s probably just a case of “the zoomies.”

Though typically more common among dogs, the high-energy antics often referred to as the zoomies are also not the least bit unusual for cats.

“The zoomies” is actually the layman’s term for a condition that veterinarians refer to as Frenetic Random Activity Periods or FRAPs.

DIAGNOSIS: FRENETIC RANDOM ACTIVITY PERIODS

“The zoomies typically look as if a switch has flipped,” Pam Johnson-Bennett, author and cat behavior consultant, told Daily Paws. “If a cat frequently engages in the zoomies, it’s probably an indication that the cat needs more exercise,” says Johnson-Bennett, who suggests engaging in at least two 15-minute interactive play sessions per day.

Pent-up energy is considered to be the most common cause of the zoomies, but there are a number of additional potential causes and theories about the behavior.

All About Cats explores several reasons cats may get the zoomies:

  • Sleep-related zoomies (bursts of energy, often at dawn and dusk, between those long periods of rest)
  • Hunting instinct zoomies (acting out their wild instincts by stalking and pouncing on imaginary prey)
  • Boredom/lack of activity (ah, the cushy life of a house cat can get a little drab at times)
  • Bathroom breaks (Daily Paws notes that “some cats seem to enjoy a victory lap after a trip to the litter box”)

Though less common than the behavioral reasons cited above, medical causes for the zoomies can include:

  • Fleas or itchy skin
  • Cognitive decline for older cats
  • Changes in sight, hearing, or sense of smell
  • Arthritic pain
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Feline hyperthyroidism or diabetes

SHOULD I CALL THE VET FOR MY EXCITABLE PET?

For house cats — domestic but still prone to experiencing nature’s instincts — the zoomies can be a way to engage their “inner predator” by stalking, pouncing, and pursuing. While mostly harmless, it is important to monitor your cat’s behavior when it comes to the zoomies — particularly if such activities are becoming more frequent or intense.

Also, if your cat is older, “watch out for weight loss, hunger, excessive vocalization, abnormal sleep patterns, or other strange behaviors, as these could be signs of hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid), a common condition in older cats,” according to Excited Cats.

“Most of the time, your cat’s zoomies will be a completely normal part of his behavior and nothing to be concerned about. However, if your cat is zooming much more than usual, or has other accompanying symptoms, then it is best to take him to your veterinarian to get him checked over.”

As for us humans, while feline Frenetic Random Activity Periods (aka, FRAPS or the zoomies) can sometimes cause feelings of stress, they can also be quite entertaining and amusing. For example, check out this little rascal recently featured in Newsweek.

Curious how to read your cat’s behavior & body language?

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