cat-zoomies

I actually found a definition for the word “zoomies” in Urban Dictionary, and even though the definition was for dogs, it’s exactly what I’m talking about: “when your dog runs around the house like crazy jumping on the couch, running up and down the stairs, and all over the house. It usually ends with them falling to the floor, panting like crazy and taking a nap.”

At our house, Ruby is the Queen of the Zoomies. Several times a day, she races through the house, up and down the cat tree, and up and along the back of the sofa. Her zoomies loop seems to be almost exactly the same every day. 

Allegra’s version of the zoomies is a little more dignified. It usually starts with a little chirp – you know, that “brrpp” sound cats make – and then she’ll jump and run down the hall, or down the stairs and around the kitty playroom downstairs. She doesn’t really zoom, though; her version looks more like a gazelle leaping through the African desert.

I often wonder what goes through their minds when they get the zoomies, and decided to go straight to the source.

Ruby: I do it because it’s fun! Wee!!! I like seeing how fast I can run and how high I can jump! It’s like I’m flying! All that’s missing is my supercat cape!

Allegra (rolls eyes): You’re too much of a klutz for anyone to believe that you’re flying, Ruby. How many times do you start up that cat tree and almost fall off because you miscalculated?

Ruby: blows raspberry at Allegra.

Allegra: I like running and jumping. It makes me happy. I pretend that I’m a ballerina!

Ruby: A what?

Allegra: You wouldn’t know a ballerina from – well, whatever. It means that I’m graceful and pretty!

Ruby: I’d rather be fast!

And there you have it – an explanation for the zoomies, brought to you by Ruby and Allegra.

For a more “scientific” explanation, visit Inverse Science, where our resident cat behaviorist Mikel Delgado explained this behavior.

Do your cats get the zoomies?

This post was previously published January 2013 and has been updated.

59 Comments on Does Your Cat Get The “Zoomies?”

  1. Our cat Ralphie gets the zoomies every night. He dashes up the stairs and proceeds to make so much noise we can’t imagine how a 12-pound cat is able to accomplish it. Of course, he won’t do it with us watching! Then he dashes back down the stairs and skids across our wood floors. How can a cat (with little sticky cat paws) skid on a slippery surface??? We call him Thundercat!

  2. Hello, I believe the Cats do that when they are being chase by the soul of another animal; no I am not crazy; the truth to that is: I had a dog that sleep in my bedroom for 13 years; after her passing I started rescuing kittens, some of them sleep in my bedroom, sometimes they start running like crazy as if something was chasing them, it occur to me that it could be Cookii my dog soul, so I said to my husband let me try this, so I called Cookiis name with authority and ask her to stop. then I told that I love her. immediatly the running stop. and everything was calm. everytime it happens I do the same so far so good, for those people that had a previous animal that passed, give it a try you have nothing to loose see if it works, thank you

  3. My beautiful calico, Keleigh, gets the zoomies but I call it “Cat Rodeo”. Out of the blue she will attack her scratching post, run up the stairs so fast she sometimes falls off, she slides on the laminate floor and almost crashes (or sometimes does) into the wall. The rodeo part is that she hunches her back and jumps two or three times, like a bucking horse. It’s absolutely hilarious to watch. She hasn’t hurt herself…yet!

  4. OMG, what a timely & awesome topic! Two evenings ago, “Bug” cat who is solid grey w/white tuxedo face & white paws, went ‘bananas’ running around the main floor…..up & down the 2 flights of stairs we laughed out butts off! THEN, he stops in his tracks, as if to think “what was I doing?”, and goes again !!! After ten minutes, Bug is sound asleep with the most angelic little face:) he will be 12 years beginning of May.

    Di

  5. Ruby and Allegra make me smile. Right now one of my cats has the zoomies. We don’t have a very big house, so it’s usually just running up and down the hallway between the bedroom and living room.

  6. So much fun to read here, and yes, I know perfectly well about the “after using the litter box Zoomies”. Such a cool word, I call it “glädjefnatt” (Swedish) – meaning “running like crazy ’cause I am so happy”.

  7. I very much enjoyed reading all the Zoomie reviews! I love Ruby and Allegra,s comments and banter! I have 7 cats and 3 Chihuahuas and sadly no one zooms..The cats know that the Chi’s will give chase, and no one wants to invite that! I used to have Afghan hounds that zoomed several times a week..That was a hoot, and pillows would fly from the sofa..Rarely a lamp would take a dive, but it was priceless fun! I have never met an animal I didn’t love, but the top of the list are cats..nothing else can measure up! God had a winner there!!

  8. When when Lucie gets an attack of the zoomies, she starts at the back of the house, races through the kitchen, dining room and living room, up the stairs and through the bedrooms, and then back down the stairs to the living room. She is so funny.

  9. Ruby and Allegra are adorable. I love their different personalities. My former cat was an “Allegra.” A bit more dignified, very sweet but she decided when it was time for cuddels. She wasn’t a lap cat, but she was a wonderful companion. Bibi is a “Ruby.” Kittenlike, energetic and fond of snuggles. And yes, she is queen zoom. She is always perfecting her zooming skills.

  10. My cats have always had the zoomies, especially after using the litter box. They fly around the house, up and down the stairs, across laps, legs, and furniture. The leap off of the cat tree and zig-zag through the tunnels, and launch themselves on to the computer chair, spinning around like little crazy things. The downside is that they aren’t always graceful, frequent miscalculations end with one or two of them running into the walls, the furniture, and even the patio door face first. No one has ever been seriously hurt, knock on wood.

  11. Hi my name is Rhonda and I’m trying to find out what’s the reason my cat Sally is acting crazy she run’s around my room jump’s on anything that’s in her way knocks thing’s down is so bad. that the only way to calm her is to put her in my closet for a time out…. But I can’t understand why and I could be asleep a she bites me in my face or so grab a hold of my arm and start biting it. I love her and would never want to give her away or anything like that I just want to find out the reason she doing this any one that can give me some answer’s

    • It sounds like your cat has a lot of excess energy and needs an appropriate way to discharge it, Rhonda. Start structured play sessions with her, two to three times a day, at least 10-15 minutes each. Use interactive wand toys and really get her tired out.

  12. When I lived in a “shotgun” style apartment, I used to chase my Hattie when she started the zoomies from the front of the apartment to the rear and back. I had to stop when we moved to a “U” shaped apartment, because she could corner a lot better than I could!

  13. I got here rather late as a result of a google search using the keyword string – mad ass crazy cat dash. LOL guess google couldn’t find an exact match so zoomies was the next best closest thing. Anyhow even though I’ve had plenty of cats in the past I don’t remember any of them ever having done this. Maybe it’s because when I was young our cats were indoor/outdoor and they did it outside, maybe it’s because latter in life my indoor cats just waited until I was at work or sleeping. Whatever the case in all my 50 years of living I’d never seen it before until about a month ago, about a month after I rescued Monte. For the first month he just lolled about basking in the sun atop his favorite perch, whiled away the hours making like a speed bump same as any normal cat past it’s kitchen stage not forced to hunt for a living in order to survive/sustain itself out in the world would do. But then all of a sudden one day out of the blue he just went crazy and taking off at lightening speeds started dashing around the apartment. To what end, for what purpose that I still cannot say. All I know is that he has a preferred obstacle course path. He beings by jumping up and running down the length of the back of the couch until he reaches the desk – first base! Then he dashes to the table – second base! Next he dashes over to where I store his kitty treats, bats the hell out of the container with his paws while standing in his hind legs – third base. Then he tears down the hall to the back bedroom, flips a u-turn, dashes back down the hall, races back into the living room and either crashes on the couch – home run! or repeats as often as he deems necessary until finally exhausted he collapses in a heap on the couch – SCORE! Which usually amounts to no more than three or four times total before spent he finally begs for kitty treats and begins gobbling them down so fast I fear he might asphyxiate before zonking out. I have to put his dry food/treats in one of those circle toys with the ball inside for cats to chase, bat around. He doesn’t like the toy, won’t play with it but I’ve found if I drop his Iams kibble and Temptations snacks in there having to use his paws to get at the pieces and swat them out works like a food puzzle and slows his eating when he gets in one of those moods. Anyhow I’m glad I found this site because it helps a lot to know this is all a part of normal cat behaviour and not early evidence warning sign indications of a brain tumor or something. He’s just a very strange cat with a quite long laundry list of other odd and quirky behaviors I’ve never before seen in a cat prior to owning him and the longer he’s here well the more of his true colors, real personality behind all of that calm facade is revealed!

    • I’m impressed that your search string landed you on this post, Rhonda – it’s almost a little scary how smart Google can be sometimes! 🙂 I love the description of your little zoomer. Ruby has a pretty set “zoom routine,” too, and I’ve learned to just get out of her way when she starts her crazy circle!

  14. Lol,glad I am not alone with this cat antics. Mine jumps from floor,to bed,to table,to tv,to top of cupboard.but he does it so fast its almost like his feet dint actually touch the surfaces.One time he flew onto to tv too fast & he actually spun around & did a 180 (degrees) turn,with all 4 legs spread out wide. He just stopped & looked at me,as if to say ‘what happened,I was goin in th other direction?’ I laughed so hard.I almost fell off th bed.I wish I’d caught it on video, lol. 🙂

  15. Hi Ingrid,

    Thanks for soooo elegantly staking a claim for our kitty companions to have the great apes which they own adopt the neologism ‘Zoomies’ for their wee outbursts of Felis Mania Majoris. It must be catching on, because 15 months later I first heard about the zoomies on the Cheezburger network’s LOLcats website (where I inserted a link to this very webpage):

    • ‘It’s Crazy Time for Simon’s Cat! ‘
    – “A frenzied feline has a moment of madness!”
    – perfect zoomies animation, 1:44 » http://cheezburger.com/59798529#comments
    – on the Simon’s Cat YouTube channel » http://youtu.be/l5ODwR6FPRQ

    Animator Simon Tofield is a comic genius at capturing feline behavior with accuracy, wit, and great good humour – and ‘Crazy Time – Simon’s Cat’ is a masterpiece illustration of the zoomies in action!

  16. Oh my! That is exactly the definition of what we call the “thunder” and even call our little Jake “Thunder Cat”
    He is only two years old but has never lost that “kitty” madness, runs, chirps, goes nuts, climbs the tree or jumps in our bed, goes towards every possible window and ends up trying to hide under a blanket or a floor mat. The 14 year old princes does almost the same when she knows the boy is not around. I love them doing that! Because even in that madness they never damage or break anything plus they seem soooooo happy while doing it!

  17. Well,Im glad Im not alone in this-Cali waits till Im in bed almost knocked out for the night then about midnight,she bangs the wand on the vertical blinds in the bdroom againat the glass every night ,then that starts her feet off and running ,then i do get her calmed down until she repeats it at 3 in the morning ,putting her in her cat carrier is a lost cause she doesnt like that, and i live in apt ,i dont let her outside

  18. These are to0 funny! I never put a name to it but my Sophie speeds through the house like her butts on fire!!! Usually in the morning when I’m getting ready for work, but not limited to the a.m. She’s a high speed racer going up the cat tree, across the couch, on the table knocking everything to the floor in the process, across the 2nd couch, across the first baby gate hurdle, then the second hurdle into her room, where she promptly turns and finishes her run in reverse!! I just love my sweet girl!

  19. Rikki and Lucy get the zoomies as soon as I put my tv on snow and say good night to them 🙂 fun time begins. It lasts for 15 mins or so ( I guess I usually fall asleep). My neighbor downstairs can also hear their zoomies..eeekk. I apologized and said that I hope they didn’t disturb her. She just laughed and said no..her and her little boy know they are having fun playing.

    Who know s they might be zooming all day long when i’m at work 🙂

  20. 3 of my 5 get the zoomies-it’s after they use the litter box (I’ve guessed they feel lighter), they run around like mad-stop-flatten themselves out like turtles-and get the ‘crazy eyes’-then they’re back at it, next thing I know they’re passed out on the ‘dancing blanket’ (sherpa style). This would be funny (it is) but my boys are 20+lbs so it’s like having little bulls in a china shop because cats may be graceful but not my guys lol. Great post 🙂

    • I read somewhere that the zoomies after litterbox use have something to do with a basic instinct to get away from one’s waste as soon as possible, before a predator can smell it out and strike. That said, it’s still fun as heck to watch!

  21. Oh yes, what a great way of putting it. Liberty, Justice, Dajudge get the zoomies bug anytime and often. They race, jump over each other, onto the kitty trees and furniture at speeds unheard of. I just let them go, unless I have to grab a lamp or some other thing, that in their mind should not be there. There is no place off limits to their zoomies. Any bed, whether quest are in the upstairs guest rooms with the door open have been subject to their zoomies. There is no set time or manner for this behavior, and me being me, just stay out of the way and let “the thundering herd” have their fun.

  22. Yes, all my cats get the Zoomies although I nevr knew what it was called. My male, Duncan, is the craziest one and big, 15 lbs, so when he is getting around, you know it. This time of year is for the zoomies since its cold and they don’t get out much. My Cali sometimes gets the zoomies outside and will run half way up a tree and jusp down and move to another one, across the yard and so on…..

  23. Our cats and dogs have always done this, too. We call it “Recreational Zooming” because it seems to have no purpose other than to fly around a like a crazy pet. Love it

  24. My Kia gets the “zoomies” usually after she has a healthy use of her litter box. She’ll finish n come flying into n around the living room back into the kitchen so fast she runs into thll. wall.

  25. Hahahaha! Is THAT what it’s called? OMG…My Ragdoll, Mooshu, does this every morning while i’m getting ready for work. I will be upstairs in the bathroom and all of a sudden i hear this thunderous ROAR and see a flash before my eyes…it is him…running up the stairs around the corner up on to my bed around the bed and off the bed…under the bed & back down the stairs. The whole while…he is making this “grunting” angry sorta sound…like he’s pissed at something. The whole routine takes less than FIVE seconds…and ends with him slowly walking back up the stairs and landing at my feet…floppy as all get out…paws crossed…and as innocent as can be….waiting for a belly rub.

  26. Ha ha – I call them “the crazies”. Trigg has mad crazies and I have certainly lived with dogs that do. I find Trigg is extremely happy when he has the crazies and he jumps from chair to chair. And it sounds like there is a tornado in the other room – and he stops if we are present in the room, but if I go back to the kitchen and cook, then the crazies happen again. Charlie sort of has them when we go outside, but it’s more leaps of joy.

  27. So THAT’S what it’s called! My cat, Star, zooms through the house at least once a day. If the cat enclosure is opened her zoomies take her from inside the house to outside in the enclosure, up the ladder to the highest outside perch, then it’s back into the house where she comes to a sudden stop. Then she looks up at me with an expression that says “Yeah, so what? Can YOU do that?”

  28. Two Two, Mahoney and Maggie all get the zoomies at least twice a day. They do have so much fun and it sounds like Allegra and Ruby have a lot of fun too.
    Hope all of you have a great day and keep zooming.

  29. At 12 Oscar doesn’t do this as much any more but his favorite zoomie thing to do is to run wildly from room to room when I throw a ball. He doesn’t actually chase the ball then, it’ s just the signal for him to run again. Pretzel kind of did the same thing but I would have to hide and jump out and scare him and he’d zoom around like a wild cat until a very tiny meow would signal he was done.

  30. Our Kira used to have what we called “crazy time” every night around 11:00, just as we were getting ready for bed. It would usually start with that wide-eyed look that means she would attack anything that moved. And then she’d be off, up and down stairs, bounding across furniture as she went. Now that she’s past 16 her crazy time lasts only a few seconds and usually means just a dash across the dining room floor. Sleep is now a priority!

  31. Oh yes, 2 of my cats, Meeko and Cisco get the zoomies. Of course when I took biology in college I learned it to be called vacumning behavior. Sometimes one of them will be running around and it is creating such a noise that I think they are playing with each other. I look and it is only one of them. My youngest, Cisco, gets these behaviors more than Meeko does. He will dart around like speedy gonzales, lol. He chases imaginary things that I can’t see. He has quite the imagination. I study him when he is playing with his mice too. He definitely displays the predator behavior. He will also get the mouse in his front paws and throw it up in the air so that it moves and then he chases it. He will also stalk his mice and even imaginary mice or whatever he wants them to be. Meeko doesn’t quite have the same imagination. He will go after objects he can see, like his plastic ties, from bread wrappers or whereever. He doesn’t display much stalking behavior. He will just walk up to it and grab a hold of it. He does display affectionate behavior to some of his toys though. If he has a toy with really soft fur, or feathers attached, he like to sit and groom them. Of course I believe this stems from his compulsiveness to lick. He will lick his own fur off if he gets the chance to. Cats are fascinating creatures and will teach you a lot if you take the time to observe and study their behaviors in different settings. I know mine have taught me quite a few things.

  32. I have two cats, littermates who are almost three years old. They both get the zoomies, but Momo, my boy, is somewhat more subdued than his sister and generally poops out faster. Cadee, on the other hand, goes absolutely crazy at least a couple of times a day, racing all around the first floor, up the stairs, up and down the cat tower, across the back of the couch–She’s like a furry ping-pong ball! I laugh every time.

  33. Stella gets the “zoomies” every time she leaves a deposit in her littler box, racing around like a crazy cat, and because she is so big, she thumps up and down the hall.

  34. My cats all do, even Casey, our 19 year-old queen! But I’ve always called them “the Crazy Kittens”. Squeaker is the most crazy of all my cats – sometimes, I hear wild thumping and squeaking coming from upstairs, followed by him running laps around the first floor. It gives *me* a case of the Giggling Mamas! 🙂

  35. Scooter is the first for me. Once or twice a day she tears through the apartment, jumping on the furniture, stopping very briefly to stare at something in the corner of the living room up where the walls meet the ceiling. Who or what it is, is a complete mystery. She started this after we moved into this apartment – never acted this way before. We just stay still and observe.

    • That happens here , too, with my 10 and 18-year-olds, though not quite as energetictly as when they were 6 and 8 (their ages when they came to me). We call it “the poop victory run”. The 10-year-old and my dog also do the zoomies when they are trying to get me to play with them.

    • I have a 13 year old poop zoomer too! I think he’s thinking “I feel so light, look at me fly! woooo!” Then he licks his butt and takes a nap.

  36. Oh my goodness yes. I particularly like it when they start the zoomies (what a cool word btw) from a seated position in my lap. Good times! 🙂

  37. this got me to thinking. I am thinking that Cody is COMPLETELY abnormal…he doesn’t get the zoomies that often and NEVER gets them at night (which many cats do)….Bobo used to have the “zoomies” ALL of the time, mostly at night!

  38. The two young ones do, certainly they do, the eldest has always been a calm guy, he only jumps and runs when he is scared.

  39. I love the zoomies! It reminds of when I was a kid and did something like run, sing or clap, just because. No special reason, just because.

    Mine get the zoomies most around meal times. It’s fun watching my 11year old go tearing into the foyer and back again. I wish I could do it. Wonder what they’d think if I took off down the hall at work?:>)

  40. Sasha certiainly does, we call it the loony haloumi’s as she is white like haloumi greek cheese.. Bad rhyming, but hey! Nice to here what the girls think about it, and love the word zoomie.. Will have to borrow that one..

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