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Exploring the Nighttime Zoomies: Why Do Cats Get Active at Night?
Cat BehaviorCat Facts

Exploring the Nighttime Zoomies: Why Do Cats Get Active at Night?

Most commonly referred to as zoomies by pet parents, the scientific name for this phenomenon is Frenetic Random Activity Periods or FRAP. If you’ve ever asked yourself why cats get the zoomies at night, read on to learn what causes them, when they occur, and even how to potentially prevent zoomies from happening at night. 

Why Do Cats Get The Zoomies?

Have you been awakened in the middle of the night to a crash, bang, or boom because your furry feline friend is frantically running around the house? Maybe you’ve caught your cat or kitten in one of the most hyper-energy periods you’ve ever seen, and you’re wondering: “Why does my cat have the zoomies right now?”

Cats can get the zoomies for a number of reasons, whether it is stress-related, excited energy, or lack of exercise. This article will explore some of the most common reasons why cats get the zoomies. 

What Are Cat Zoomies?

"Zoomies" is the term used to describe your cat’s behavior as they literally zoom around your house. They may be relatively unexpected and can also stop as quickly as they start, leaving your kitten with well-spent energy ready to resume their afternoon nap. 

It can sometimes appear as though a switch has flipped, and suddenly, the zoomies have been activated, according to Pam Johnson-Bennett, CCBC, author and owner of Cat Behavior Associates. It may even appear that your cat has gone crazy for seemingly no reason, but fear not: this behavior is pretty normal. 

What Causes Cat Zoomies? 

Cats of all ages, especially kittens and young cats, have loads of energy. One of the most common reasons cats experience these bursts of hyperactivity is due to the excess energy they’ve stored.

a cat sitting on top of a table next to a christmas tree
a cat sitting on top of a table next to a christmas tree

When Do Zoomies Typically Occur?

Zoomies can occur for several different reasons and at different times throughout the day. 

After a trip to the litter box, it can reveal that your cat is uncomfortable or that their litterbox is not clean. If zoomies occur frequently in the evenings or at night, then that can be a sign that your cat hasn’t gotten enough exercise throughout the day. 

Zoomies can also result from stressful triggers or lifestyle changes for your cat; things like bathtime, moving, or being scared can cause your kitten to want to release their nerves by frantically running around the living room. 

Why Do Cats Get the Zoomies?

Zoomies can be caused by a number of things, from pent-up energy to pain, even sometimes a post-pooping necessity. Below is an explanation of three of the most common reasons cats get the zoomies. 

Excess Energy 

A common characteristic of cats is that they spend a large part of their day sleeping, about 12-16 hours, according to petMD. Generally speaking, cats sleep so much to conserve energy because, as predators, hunting and exploring are energy-consuming – sleeping so much is in their nature. 

Indoor cats that don’t get enough exercise may be overtaken by the need to use that unspent predatory energy – hence running wildly around the house (and maybe knocking over a vase of flowers or a potted plant or two).

Acute Pain

Another far less common reason for the zoomies may be the acute pain your cat is experiencing, so it's important to know the warning signs and when to consider a trip to the vet.   

The following health-related issues could be causing your cat to race around the house:

  • sleep alterations (potentially caused by disease), 

  • arthritic pain, 

  • flea and tick bites, 

  • kidney and liver disease, 

  • toxins, 

  • brain tumors.

Again, zoomies are a relatively normal feline behavior. Still, if these sporadic periods of energy become more intense and frequent, it may be worthwhile to chat with your vet.  

Post-Pooping Zoomies

Last but not least, zoomies can occur post-pooping in the litter box. While equally hilarious as the zoomies is the thought of your feline friend taking a victory lap after their trip to the bathroom; it's important to note whether or not this is a new behavior. 

If this is a new behavior for Frisky, look out for signs of constipation, vomiting, defecation outside the litter box, and any change in their stool. Sometimes cats are just looking to get away from the smell of their litter box, so be sure to keep it clean (I mean, would you want to spend any more time in the bathroom than you needed to after going #2?). 

If your cat experiences the zoomies after urinating in their box, ensure the litterbox is clean to help prevent any type of urinary or bacterial infection from getting to your cat – and help them pee only in the places you intend (i.e., NOT on your favorite rug!)

How to Prevent Cat Zoomies at Night

It's the age-old problem for cat parents – their cats have spent 12-16 hours sleeping during the day, and now they’re ready to take their high-velocity zoomies out for a spin to burn off some energy. The only problem is it’s 3:00 a.m. Now you’re lying awake wondering, “Why do my cats get the zoomies?”

If you find that your cat frequently engages in the zoomies, especially while you’re trying to sleep, it's usually a sign that your beloved feline needs more exercise. 

A good way to prevent zoomies is to ensure that your cat is physically and mentally exhausted at the end of the day. Try interactive toys; playtime should be just as much of a mental exercise as a physical one, and interactive toys allow kitty to play and be rewarded for their efforts. 

Setting a few toys out before bedtime can help get that extra energy out and help you get the much-needed rest you deserve. 

So, Why Do Cats Get Zoomies At Night?

In conclusion, if you’re wondering if zoomies are normal cat behavior, especially in the wee hours of the night, the answer is yes. Likely, your kitten is racing around the house because their inner predator is coming out – their inner hunter/explorer needs to expend their unused energy. 

After sleeping for the majority of the day, your little kitty, no matter their age, needs a way to expel their pent-up energy. Unfortunately for all you cat moms & dads out there, that can mean an impact to your sleep cycle. 

Don’t worry – you can remedy this by ensuring Frisky has enough mental and physical stimulation during the day. If zoomies are new for your little feline friend, it might be a good idea to talk to your vet and examine what’s causing that frantic energy. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Do zoomies mean that a cat is happy?

For most cats, zoomies are an expression of excitement and a way to engage their inner predator. They can also be a sign of something more serious, like a health condition or discomfort.

Should you ignore cat zoomies?

In short, it depends on whether or not this is a new behavior in your cat. While zoomies are relatively normal behavior for your cat, if this is a new behavior for your cat or kitten, zoomies can also be a warning sign of potential health issues. 

Why do cats get crazy zoomies?

Because cats sleep most of the day, zoomies are a way for your furry friend to burn some energy. If zoomies happen in the evening or at night, this can be a sign that your cat needs more exercise and mental stimulation during the day. 

Why do cats get the zoomies after they poop?

Ever wonder why cats get the zoomies after pooping? This can be a sign that the litter box needs to be cleaned or your cat is uncomfortable when going to the bathroom. If zoomies after they poop aren’t normal behavior for your cat, we recommend a conversation with your vet to look into this further.