A dog releasing pent up energy with a burst of the zoomies.

It never fails. In the middle of a late-night Netflix binge a blur of fur and floof races past you. You’re certain there must be a mouse in the house. Otherwise, why would your ordinarily nap-prone tabby suddenly tear through the house like her tail’s on fire?

You’ve just witnessed a FRAP—and that’s not short for Frappuccino. FRAP stands for Frenetic Random Activity Periods, but casually, they’re known as the “zoomies.” 

At Bowman Veterinary Hospital, we’re here to help you make sense of this peculiar—and usually quite entertaining—behavior, including why it happens and what to do when your pets are moving at warp speed and showing those sudden bursts of energy!

Why Do the Zoomies Happen?

Most of the time, a swift trip around the great room is all in good fun. Your pet is just releasing her bottled up energy. Your cat could be roleplaying: practicing her chasing, pouncing, and catching duties. 

Post-potty zoomies are also extremely common in cats. Dogs typically display the zoomies when they’re overjoyed to be crate-free, excited to see their favorite human, or relieved that bath time is over. 

However, there are times when the zoomies could signal something more than a surplus of energy and excitement. 

1. Medical Factors

If your cat or dog suddenly starts to display the zoomies during a time of day when they’re usually sleeping, pay attention to other symptoms. Is your cat losing weight? Is your dog behaving in other ways that seem odd to you? If so, it’s best to schedule a checkup.

Here are some medical conditions that can cause unusual behavior:

  • Feline hyperthyroidism
  • Cushing’s disease (in dogs)
  • Neurological disorders and brain tumors
  • Cognitive dysfunction or dementia (in senior pets)
  • Diminished senses, especially sight and hearing
  • Fleas
  • Ingestion of toxins

2. Emotional Stressors

A cat or dog who is feeling anxiety, depression, and other stressors can over-react to the slightest bit of stimulation—even everyday sights and sounds. 

3. She Needs More Exercise

Perhaps something in your schedule has changed, and you haven’t been able to walk your dog as frequently or spend as much time interacting with your pets. When cats and dogs don’t have enough enrichment activities and stimulation, they may feel a need to manufacture fun in the form of dashing through the house at lightning speed. 

What to Do When the Zoomies Hit

Most of the time, the zoomies are nothing to worry about, so don’t scold your pet or try to prevent the zoomies. Instead, look for potential hazards: sharp corners, breakable objects, loose rugs—anything that could cause injury. To reduce your pet’s desire to zoom, keep her stimulated throughout the day; make sure your dog gets adequate walks; and join your cat for plenty of constructive playtime. 

When to Call Us

If your pet’s zoomies are accompanied by other physical symptoms or behavioral concerns, contact us to schedule an appointment so that we can rule out underlying illnesses.