If you have a cat, it’s a good bet you’ve seen this sort of behavior: All is quiet, when suddenly your cat comes racing into the room, scuffles around a bit and then tears out as though he’s just heard that there’s a free catnip giveaway.
Is there another animal lurking? Could it be the need to burn off excess energy? Is there a ghost in the house? Not to fear, your cat is okay — and he (probably) isn’t seeing ghosts either! There are a few reasons why your cat may get the “zoomies” out of nowhere.
1. Stored Energy
It could simply be bottled-up energy. Cats spend lots of time lying around just watching the world go by. But they do have energy to burn just like any other animal, and the racing around could be a way of burning that off before they go back to that all-important patch of sunlight.
While younger cats obviously have more energy to burn, even seniors have been known to race around like race cars every once in a while.
This video shows a hilarious compilation of cats racing around their houses:
2. Intruders Inside and Out
Another animal’s scent could be the reason. If there are other animals inside the house or outside strolling around on the lawn, it could be triggering your cat’s behavior. Your home, inside and out, is an area your kitty considers her territory. It can be maddening to see another animal blithely tromping all over said territory.
A good indicator is seeing your cat racing from window to window and even meowing loudly enough to shake the rafters (who knew cats could be so loud?).
3. Chasing Prey
Your cat could be — unfortunately for you squeamish people out there — reacting to the scent of prey.
Mice are a common problem in just about any area of the country, especially the rural areas. Mice give off a distinct odor to cats and are their natural prey, so it makes sense that your kitty will go nuts trying to find them and catch them.
And if you’re lucky, she will share them with you (yuck).
Not only is this an explanation for the kitty crazies, but it is also a great indicator of a pest control issue. You might want to hire a pest control service to come out and take a look, especially if you are like me and refuse to go within 10 feet of a mouse. Mice are pests who bring flea infestations and other problems along with them.
4. Pesky Little Fleas
Your cat could in fact have fleas. As any of us who have been bitten know, it’s a sharp little pain that comes along with every bite, and those bites can get really annoying really quick.
Flea infestations can happen quickly — even if your cat lives indoors-only — so it’s important to treat your kitty as soon as you notice the problem. Fleas make your cat uncomfortable and in severe cases can cause a lot of pain from the constant flea bites and the cat’s subsequent scratching.
5. Other Reasons
If none of the above seem to apply to your cat and you are sincerely concerned, it’s never a bad idea to talk to your veterinarian. There is a disorder known as Hyperesthesia syndrome, a mysterious condition that can make a cat react as though she is having the kitty crazies. This disease can cause the skin along the spine of your cat to ripple or roll.
Other behaviors can manifest such as: excessive grooming, licking, biting or scratching at herself, racing around the house or chasing her tail. Not much is known about the condition, only that it is possibly an aspect of obsessive-compulsive (OCD) behavior or possibly a seizure disorder. Your vet can help you determine if this is something your cat is manifesting.