While it may be amusing to watch, having your cat run around the house like crazy can be disruptive. They can knock over items, disturb our sleep or generally cause a stressful atmosphere. More importantly, it can make us worry about the wellbeing of our cat.
These sudden attacks of mania happen to most cats when they are young, but they usually lessen as they get older. Whatever age of the cat, they are an example of FRAP (frenetic random activity period), although they are commonly known as ‘zoomies’.
If your cat is running around like a maniac, it is important to understand why. In many cases, they will be aberrant and will not cause the cat any harm.
Zoomies in cats usually happen when they are excited, happy or just need to let off some steam. However, if your cat starts having zoomies more frequently or seems to be in pain, it might be a problem and you should take them to the vet.
Why is my cat running around like crazy?
We have already explained that these frenetic bursts of energy are a form of FRAP, known as zoomies in cats. While this explains what they are, it doesn’t explain why they happen. Here are some of the most common reasons your cat may be running around the house like maniac:
Dogs have been widely documented to have periods of frenetic random activity, commonly referred to as “zoomies.” Although there is a lot of anecdotal evidence of cats also experiencing zoomies, they have not been studied as much in scientific research.
This is totally normal cat behavior. If your cat starts running around like crazy from time to time, don’t worry.
They are likely just releasing excess energy. This often happens with cats who don’t have outdoor access and they often express hunting behaviors like grabbing your ankles or jumping up onto shafts of light.
In these non-pathological cases of FRAP in cats, they usually only last for a very short period of time. They are common in kittens which generally have more energy to spend and they will calm down soon enough.
Cats are instinctively known to be clean creatures. They have a natural desire to want to move away quickly from places where they urinate or defecate so that predators are not attracted by the smell.
This is considered to be a response to their natural instincts. Some cats may run away after using their litter box and this behavior is common among certain felines.
Stress and anxiety
When your cat is experiencing zoomies more often than usual, it could be an indication of a health problem – especially if the zoomies last for a long time or are accompanied by other behavioral or physical symptoms.
If your cat is running around crazy multiple times a day, it’s likely that they are feeling stressed and anxious. Trauma, neglect, poor socialization, and living in a stressful environment are all causes of stress in cats that can lead to stereotypies.
“Cats engage in a lot of repetitive behaviors that may not have an obvious purpose. For example, a lot of cats go crazy and run around.”
While a physical ailment is not the vast majority of cases for a cat running around like a maniac, it is still a possible reason. Zoomies can be a symptom of diseases such hyperthyroidism which is more common in older cats. Its causes are not well known, however it is believed to be influenced by genetics and diet.
Diseases that lead to hormone imbalances can be the underlying cause of hyperactivity.
For example, a tumor on the adrenal gland can cause overproduction of adrenaline and lead to more cases of FRAP. Some of these diseases are curable, some only require symptom management, and others may be life-threatening.
If you suspect that your cat’s zoomies are caused by a medical condition, the first thing you should do is take them to the veterinarian.
My cat runs around like crazy at night
Cats are nocturnal animals by nature, but they’ve adapted to the sleep schedules of their guardians.
The temperature, daylight hours, and outdoor access of their living environment are also important factors. So it’s not unusual for cats to be more active at night.
This is especially prevalent in summer. When temperatures get too hot during the day, cats often rest in cool places and wait until nightfall to carry out activities.
This includes playing, hunting, interacting with their guardians or simply going out for a walk around the neighborhood. If your cat is an indoor cat, they don’t have many toys to play with, they live alone, they are young and they only get to see you sporadically, it makes sense they may be more active at this time.
If your cat is suddenly acting more hyperactive than usual, it might mean they need more stimulation during the day. However, we first need to rule out any potential physical health problems. If your cat is frequently acting like a maniac, there are some things you can do to help them.
Cat hyperactivity is different from aggression, but there is some similarities between the two. Our article dives deeper into why a cat might attack you.
What to do if my cat runs like crazy all over the house
FRAPs, or “zoomies,” are normal behaviors for cats and not something to be worried about. If your cat is happy and healthy, then you probably don’t need to do anything other than let them have fun. However, if the zoomies seem to be related to stress or boredom, there are some things we can do:
Move away dangerous objects:
Although the appearance of a FRAP (feline running at high speed) is usually unexpected, cats usually follow the same path when they are carrying out zoomies.
Observe their path and make sure to remove any object that could damage the animal. The feline is running at high speed, so they may misjudge distances and hit something.
Do not try to stop the cat:
If you see a cat running around and it appears to be in a safe environment, it’s best not to try and stop it. These episodes usually only last a few seconds, and the animal will calm down naturally.
Provide environmental and social stimulation:
Cats are very curious and intelligent animals. They not only need high places to climb to keep an eye on their surroundings, they also need individuals and objects with which they can interact.
You may be able to reduce episodes of FRAP by playing more with your cat, introducing interactive toys, providing intelligence games and generally creating cat friendly spaces. To learn how to create the right space for your cat, take a look at our article on feline environmental enrichment.
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