Why Do Cats Get the Zoomies After Using the Litterbox?

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  • Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.

Has your cat ever jetted out of the litter box faster than Usain Bolt pushes off starting blocks? And then raced in circles around your home at lightning speeds?

Cats are great at entertaining us with their strange behaviors. We scratch our heads and ask, “What in the world… Why?”

There are many reasons and theories about why cats defecate and dash.

My personal philosophy is that they’re trying to escape the stench as quickly as they possibly can. There’s really no contesting it. Cat poo is not a pleasant experience for our olfactory nerves.

Let’s explore some possible causes for cat zoomies post pooping.

1. Unclean litter box

Maybe your cat is a clean freak. Just like some people prefer to flush before they go so they can release in a clean bowl, cathealth.com suggests that cats like a clean space for pooping.

Darting out of the litter box after going could be their way of escaping the uncleanliness at warp speed.

It’s like when the only option at an outdoor event is a porta-potty. You touch nothing, go quickly and escape as fast as you can.

2. Medical issue

If your cat suddenly starts doing the zoomies after visiting the litter box and never did before, there may be an underlying medical problem to address.

Dr. Mike Paul, DVM told Pet Health Network that cat zoomies after pooping may be triggered by discomfort caused by infections or inflammation in the urinary tract, colon or rectum.

If your cat starts popping out and zooming around after using the litter box, it’s a good idea to check the contents for anything unusual like:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abnormally hard stool
  • Blood in stool or urine

Give your veterinarian a call If you notice something doesn’t look quite right.

3. Survival instincts

One theory suggests that cats dart and dash away from their dung as a primal instinct to avoid predators. The idea is that cats in the wild bury their poop to prevent predators from tracking down their scent.

They race away for two reasons.

The first reason is to distance themselves from the evidence.

The second reason is to escape the scent and throw predators off the trail.

This is only a theory. The fact is that some cats get the zoomies after relieving themselves in their litter box and some cats don’t.

And to be clear, Dr. Ilona Rodan, a veterinarian and feline specialty behavior consultant, told Pet Health Network that there’s no evidence to support that “cats run from their waste in the wild”.

4. “Poo-phoria”

It’s real.

Dr. Anish Sheth, a gastroenterologist and co-author of What’s Your Poo Telling You?, coined the term. It captures the feeling of euphoria after passing a large stool.

That euphoric feeling is thanks to the vagus nerve, which runs from our brainstems to our colon.

Just like humans, cats have a vagus nerve.

Dr. Sheth explains, “The distension of the rectum that comes with the passing of a large mass of stool causes the vagus nerve to fire. The net effect of this is a drop in your heart rate and blood pressure, which in turn decreases blood flow to the brain. When mild, the light-headedness can lead to a sense of sublime relation — the high.”

Thus, cat zoomies after pooping.

Other theories

There are a handful of other theories presented by Animal Planet. These theories are suggested by Dr. Ilona Rodan, a veterinarian and specialist in feline behavior, and Carole Wilbourn, a cat therapist and author.

Showing off their independence

Wilbourn believes that when cats are no longer dependent on their mama to clean them after going to the bathroom, it’s cause for jubilation.

Do you remember the feeling of going on your first road trip after getting your driver’s license? You’re flying down the highway with the windows rolled down and the tunes blaring. It’s freedom at its finest.

Cats get elated by their experience of independence too.

Seeking recognition

Going to the bathroom can feel like a big accomplishment. Rodan suggests that the zoomies after pooping are a call for congratulations from their human for a job well done.

Distancing themselves from digestive problems

As mentioned above, dashing out of a litter box after pooping or peeing may be a sign of a medical issue. Both Rodan and Wilbourn offer the idea that cats darting is their way of running away from their problem.

So, what’s the answer?

We may never know with 100% confidence the exact reason for our cats going wild with zoomies after a visit to their litter box. It’s fun to think about, though.

There is one thing we do know for sure. Cats are highly entertaining—both intriguing and hilarious.

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