You know what they say about assuming, so we won’t repeat it! Instead, we’ll point out that not all cats have midnight zoomies, though there’s not necessarily anything wrong with a cat who does.
Wait, what exactly are zoomies?
If you’ve seen your cat involved in a highspeed chase throughout your home with no one chasing her, you’ve likely witnessed the extreme burst of energy that the kitty community calls zoomies. This display of explosive speed and force generally lasts no more than a minute (two at the max) because it uses up a ton of stored energy, so it’s not sustainable. That’s sort of the point for most cats, and one of the reasons this often happens just before your cat retires for the night, hence “midnight” zoomies. Another reason for this unfortunate timing is simply cats’ nature. They’re crepuscular creatures, which means they’re inherently most active at dawn and dusk, spending the heat of the day resting. Combine a day of laziness with an internal clock that tells your cat to wake up as the sun sets, and it’s not hard to see how the scene has been set for a dramatic nighttime performance.
I’ve seen it during the day, though...
If your furball had a case of the zoomies during the day, and it wasn’t related to playtime with another cat, we’re willing to bet it was just after he used the litter box. This is the second most frequent instigator of a serious zoomies sesh that doesn’t involve a health problem, and it’s one that’s often easily identified because cats aren’t exactly discreet with their noisy box digging. If your cat is randomly zooming about the house during the day and it’s not coming after trips to the box, the next section is essential for you.
What about the health problems you just mentioned?
First, remember that most cases of zoomies are unrelated to medical issues, so you probably don’t have anything to worry about. Still, unusual hyperactivity like zoomies can be related to discomfort from flea bites, new skin allergies, or worse. PetMD explains that hyperactivity can be a sign of hyperthyroidism, which can be manageable for several years if properly treated. You don’t want to ignore potential warning signs like new or increasing zoomies. How do you know when to be concerned? Notice we said “unusual” hyperactivity. If your cat always zooms around the house after going to the bathroom or often acts like a freight train just before bed, there’s probably nothing medically wrong. Suppose your cat suddenly starts zooming about after a lifetime without doing so. In that case, her regular zoomies become increasingly intense, or he suddenly starts vocalizing during the zoomies; you should speak to your vet about these new behaviors. In these cases, there may be a medical concern.
Why do you keep specifying “medical” concerns?
Good catch! While medical concerns do not cause most cases of zoomies, they’re generally indicators of other potential problems, like environmental and behavioral concerns. Remember those litterbox zoomies? For some cats, this appears to be a case of joy after a perfect trip to the potty, but if your cat doesn’t do this consistently, it’s likely a sign of a problem with the box. The most common culprit is an unclean box, so stay on top of daily maintenance and regular replacement. Post-poop zoomies are the least of the potential problems to come from a dirty litter box, but they’re an excellent early warning sign to get on top of your, um, duty. Your cat may also be upset about a change of litter brand, a change in location, or something else in the surrounding environment that has made going unpleasant. A small but important disclaimer here: We did say that this one isn’t usually related to a medical concern, but atypical litterbox zoomies can also be a sign of internal discomfort with the potty process, so if you are sure that there have been no changes to your super clean box or anything surrounding it, but your cat has suddenly starting zooming after going, you should probably speak to your vet about this one, too.
As for those midnight zoomies disrupting your peaceful evenings (or even your sleep, for early birds), this is usually a sign that your cat is not correctly expending all of her energy throughout the day and, therefore, needs to release it with a severe outburst before bed. Yes, we did say cats are naturally lazy during the day and more active once the night falls, so this is partly to blame on her internal clock, which doesn’t necessarily align with your idea of when quiet time should begin. Still, you can do plenty to help your cat adapt to your human schedule.
The more involved your cat is with your schedule, the more she’ll adapt her energy expenditure if your cat is involved in both your morning and evening routines, rather than shooed away while you’re getting ready for work or rushing to get dinner ready, her daytime energy usage will better match yours. Even better, if your cat typically sleeps with you, she’ll naturally begin to wind down and look forward to bed when you usually hit the hay yourself. Not everyone has a routine, though, and it’s not always possible for your cat to sync with yours, but hope is not lost even in these cases.
The most important thing you can do to alleviate the need for midnight zoomies is to give your cat plenty of physical stimulation during the day. And luckily, that doesn’t take much. Cats are very athletic but built for minimal bursts of power. In other words, they’re sprinters, not marathoners. Physical play with your cat before bed, even for ten to fifteen minutes, is often enough to expend that energy he needs to release. This can be anything from laser pointer games to feathery wands or anything that helps him hunch, pounce, leap, and run. Cats are natural hunters, so these behaviors are fun and necessary. Playtime also helps your cat build a stronger bond with you and feel more secure in his environment, so it’s a total win.It would help if you also stimulated your cat when you’re not home, which is easier than it sounds. A good collection of toys is helpful, but a well-placed, quality cat tree like Alba from Mau can do the trick. Placing cat furniture with a high perch in front of a window, especially if birds or squirrels frequent the view, can stimulate your cat mentally and encourage them to play a bit during the day, releasing some of that energy before night falls. Alba’s natural wood trunks and mindfully placed scratching zones stimulate your feline warrior’s innate hunting instincts while giving them a safe outlet for stretching, scratching, climbing, and other daily hunter skills. You could certainly live with the zoomies—they’re even quite cute as long as no one’s crashing into anything—but it’s best to give your favorite furry family member the stimulation and attention they need, so they don’t need to explode at night. As it turns out, most cats really shouldn’t have midnight zoomies.