Speaking for the furry ones on this earth...

Why Do Cats Get the Zoomies at Night?

Why do cats zoom around the house at night?

The zoomies. Every cat owner is familiar with the incredible burst of crazy energy that all cats get occasionally. Then, it's on. The cat races around at top speed leaping onto and off furniture and generally tearing around making lots of noise.

For some reason, many cats seem to get the zoomies at night when their owner is trying to sleep. Why does that happen, and is there any way to curb it so you can get some sleep?

Why Do Cats Get the Zoomies?

There are a few reasons cats engage in wild bursts of running around the house, acting crazy. They usually have dilated pupils and act hyper-vigilant. They may do this because:

  • They have pent-up energy. Cats are generally hunters that expend energy in big bursts while chasing prey. Indoor cats don't get to do that, so the zoomies are often their way of letting out some natural energy. Zoomies are more common and frequent in younger cats, being most frequent in kittens.
  • They have anxiety. If a cat suddenly begins having the zoomies when they never did it before, it could indicate stress or anxiety.
  • They have a medical problem. Again, if the zoomies begin in a cat that never engaged in it before, a medical problem could be the culprit (especially hyperthyroidism, fleas, or skin allergies).
  • They have a litter box problem. Some cats specifically zoom after being in the litter box. That could indicate they're unhappy with the box's cleanliness or that they have discomfort or irritation associated with urination or defecation.

The vast majority of zoomies in cats have to do with pent-up energy.

But Why So Many Zoomies at Night?

Nighttime is when it's quietest in most people's homes, and a cat that slept most of the day while the owners were gone may be up and looking for something to do then.

Additionally, cats are crepuscular. That means they're naturally most active in the twilight times of dusk and dawn, which is when their rodent prey is most active, so they hunt most successfully. Even though our house cats don't have to survive on hunting, they still have the instinct to be active and "hunt" at those times. Hence, nighttime zoomies.

How Can You Curtail Nighttime Zoomies in Cats?

Here are a few things you can do if your cat has a habit of engaging in zoomies during the night.

Note: this is only for cases of pent-up energy zoomies. If you feel your cat's zoomies may be due to a medical problem, anxiety, or a litter box issue, consult with your veterinarian.

  • Engage in a rousing interactive play session before you go to bed. Use a wand toy to impersonate a rodent and get your kitty to let out all that pent-up hunting energy.
  • Give the main meal just before you go to bed. After a cat in the wild eats a meal of prey, he takes a nice long nap. You can simulate that with the main meal around your bedtime.
  • Provide plenty of enrichment for your cat to engage in during the day. If you're gone most of the day and your cat is alone, be sure you're providing enriching activities to help let out energy and keep kitty from getting bored. Here are some ideas:
    • Try an automatic cat toy that turns on randomly throughout the day.
    • Put a cat tree near a window with a bird feeder outside.
    • Put some kibble inside a puzzle feeder for your kitty to work on throughout the day.
    • Break up your cat's daily food allotment and hide it around the home for your kitty to "hunt" all day.
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