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If you've ever seen your cat go from zero to 60 in just a few seconds — from catnapping to making a wild dash across the floor — they probably had a case of the cat zoomies. But what are cat zoomies and why does your usually chill cat get these sudden bursts of energy?
Why Cats Get the Zoomies
While it's pretty easy to tell if your cat has a case of the zoomies, the reason behind them can be more mysterious. What are cat zoomies' causes? Here are three of the most common explanations.
1. Sleep Habits
Cats often get the zoomies after a long snooze. Because cats sleep much of the day in order to conserve energy (your feline friend can sleep anywhere from 12 to 16 hours a day), when they're awake, they're really awake. After a long catnap, running from one end of the house to another is a way for your cat to reinvigorate their mind and body.
2. Hunting Instinct
Despite getting all the food they need from their pet parents, cats are innate hunters and have a predatory instinct. Sometimes it may seem as if your cat is chasing nothing, when, more than likely, they're pursuing imaginary prey. To get a sense of your kitty's expert hunting skills, toss a few pieces of kibble down the hallway and see how quickly they bound after it.
3. Bathroom Issues
Many cats seem to take a victory lap after using the litter box. Some cats run like crazy after they've had a bowel movement, particularly if it was uncomfortable. "Such discomfort could be caused by infections or inflammatory processes involving the urinary tract, colon or rectum," explains Dr. Mike Paul for the Pet Health Network. "It could even be caused by constipation issues." If your veterinarian rules out medical reasons for the post-bathroom sprinting, you can conclude that it's probably just your cat's way of celebrating a job well done.
When to Contact the Vet
If your zooming cat is otherwise healthy, there's no need to worry.
If you notice excessive zooming, though, keep an eye out for any other unusual behaviors that may signal something's wrong. Accompanying weight loss, changes in litter box usage or unusual vocalization, for example, should prompt you to bring your cat to the vet. Cats are especially likely to exhibit changes in behavior as they age.
Playing Through the Zoomies
Once you've determined that your cat's spontaneous bouts of wildness are nothing to worry about, you can try to plan your play sessions around their zoomies, as International Cat Care recommends: "Playtime ... actually has the most beneficial effects if it is provided relatively frequently in short energetic bursts of activity."
Being an active participant in the zoomies is a great way for you to bond with your kitty, help them release pent-up energy and tire them out for their next snooze. Plus, watching your cat bound aimlessly throughout the house might just be their way of trying to tell you that they want to play. After all, we all know that your cat is really in charge of you, and not the other way around!
Christine O'Brien is a writer, mom, and long-time cat parent whose two Russian Blues rule the house. Her work also appears in Care.com, What to Expect, and Fit Pregnancy, where she writes about pets, pregnancy, and family life. Find and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @brovelliobrien.