Skip to main content

Cat zoomies: Why they do it, and what it means

Why cats really get the zoomies and when to step in

Cat stands with a blue toy in her mouth
Darkmoon_Art / Pixabay

It might be your favorite part of owning a cat, or it might keep you up all night, but zoomies have taken hold in our collective psyche as pet owners. While we as humans may pace around, dogs and cats frequently dash across the house for seemingly no reason and with no obvious cause.

Even if you think it’s totally random, more likely your kitty gets something out of this wild routine. There’s no one definitive motive, but you should be able to figure out why your animal suddenly has the cat zoomies by paying attention to their other behaviors.

Cat chewing on wool.
Irina oxilixo Danilova / Shutterstock

Why do cats get the zoomies?

Most feline companions have zoomies from time to time, though it does depend on the cat’s age, personality, and environment. It’s interesting that indoor-only cats seem to exhibit the trope of the constantly zooming cat a bit more than their outdoor counterparts, in large part because an inside cat might have more pent-up energy. Specifically, if you see your beastie getting zoomed up in the evening, that tells you to put a little bit more time into working their mind and body during the day.

Because domestic cats sleep for much of the day and are liveliest at twilight and dawn, zoomies sometimes happen at the worst times for you (it makes perfect sense to them, though). You can buy a few extra interactive items, such as a new cat-scratch post, and select a few toys for you to use with them. Remember, it’s not just about the physical exercise — their brain needs a workout, too. Find something that involves a reward and will keep them fully involved.

When do cat zoomies mean something’s wrong?

Rarely, the zoomies have a negative underlying condition and require medical attention or a change in routine. If you notice a sudden increase in messing around or the playful running becomes truly excessive, have your vet give your mouser a once over. A few conditions, such as hyperthyroidism, can cause huge energy surges and have other harmful effects.

Cats sometimes get zoomies as a result of stress as well — you may notice extra bouncing after a big move or when a new pet joins the home. In those cases, they’ll most likely adjust with a little time, but make sure to give your OG cat dedicated attention, lots of playtime, and a place they can retreat to in peace.

All in all, cat zoomies are something to be cherished and enjoyed. Take your pet’s playtime to the next level by getting a nighttime camera that can capture their most acrobatic moments. Just remember to ensure your kitty stays stimulated and watch for unusual increases in craziness, otherwise, a zoomy cat is a happy cat.

Editors' Recommendations

Rebekkah Adams
Rebekkah’s been a writer and editor for more than 10 years, both in print and digital. In addition to writing about pets…
Cat panting: 5 reasons behind this behavior and what you should do about it
Cats pant for all sorts of reasons some of which require medical attention
Close up of a cat sticking out her tongue

Just about any cute dog account on social includes plenty of panting pics. But cat influencers? Not so much. That might cause you to panic a little any time your lovable feline sticks out their tongue or breathes heavily, even when you don't have to worry. Cats can pant, too, and many of the reasons pose no danger. So when should you intervene? We'll cover the five most common sources of cat panting.

Why is my cat panting?
Some kitties never pant at all, which doesn't indicate anything bad. It's not necessary for a lot of cats to pant. On the other hand, certain animals are more likely to breathe heavily on occasion. As always, a sudden change in behavior should mean a trip to the vet, but you may have also just landed an animal that wishes to act like a canine.
Heat
Dogs do it. Humans do it. And yes, cats do it, too. Panting from high temps seems to pervade the animal kingdom. Much of the time, your mouser will be able to cool themselves down by lying in a cold spot until they get back to normal. Sometimes though, cats get heatstroke and need you to intervene (more on that later).
Asthma and respiratory illnesses
In the case of a cat cold, you'll likely notice other symptoms that go along with the panting, like sneezing and coughing. A stuffy kitty could pant to get oxygen to their body. Many illnesses work themselves out, but they might need medicine to help it along. You'll also want to check for asthma, which affects many cats. Your vet will help with the right treatment to manage the condition.
Obstructions
Assuming the foreign object is lodged in their upper digestive tract, you can often find a way to take care of this on your own. Don't ever pull anything out of your cat's throat, though, if they aren't able to remove it with a few coughs. Assuming your animal can breathe well enough, take them to the vet or emergency where a doctor can safely remove the obstruction, sometimes after x-rays to diagnose.
Heart problems
Heart problems often lead to breathing problems. An older cat or one with a previous condition like congestive heart failure might develop some tricky issues. Heartworm can cause some coughing or panting as well, but it's completely treatable when caught early on. Your vet will routinely test your pet for this parasite and you should administer preventative as prescribed.
Pain
If you've ever stubbed your toe and then found yourself trying to breathe through the pain, you'll get why your cat might do this, too. Sadly, this reason nearly always necessitates an immediate trip to the vet or pet ER. The only exception is if you discover a minor injury that explains it and can fix it at home; for example, a thorn in their paw that's easy to remove.

Read more
Why do cats spray? This obnoxious behavior, explained
It's important to understand why cats do this
a ffuffy cat in a cardboard box

Cats can be a curious bunch. They attack the holiday tree annually and stare at you until you start questioning what's happening in their heads. The hijinks may leave you thinking, "Cats, can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em."

If you have chosen to shack up with a cat (or keep an indoor-outdoor or solely outdoor kitty), you know you signed up to deal with some potty scooping up. For indoor cats, this means cleaning a litter box. The good news? Cats are pretty reliable about going in the box once trained and not around your home. Why do cats spray, though? You may ask this question if you notice small amounts of urine around your pad. You'll want to get to the root cause (and determine if a cat is spraying in the first place) so you can fix the issue and save your sofa and carpet.

Read more
8 essential tips for disciplining cats
8 Easy and effective tips for training your cat
Two kittens on wooden shelves

Cats may be one of the most popular pets worldwide, but even they have reputations (mostly with non-cat people). Felines are known for indifference, sass, and even attitude. Cartoons, comics, and movies portray them as impossible to reason with, but if you ask a cat owner, they'll assure you cat discipline exists. Here's the catch: you need to know how to discipline your cat -- safely and properly -- for that training to stick. With these seven simple tips and tricks, though, you'll be on your way to perfect feline behavior.

Rule out medical concerns as a cause for misbehavior
Surprising as it sounds, the source of a lot of cat misbehavior has roots in medical conditions. Cats may stop using the litter box, demonstrate new aggression, or start hiding in unexpected places -- all from changes inside their body. So, before you start wondering how to punish your cat, make an appointment with your veterinarian. You may find a medical cause for the behavior. If not, you'll get peace of mind and can move on to further tips on cat discipline.

Read more