Cats never cease to surprise their humans with their strange behaviors — and their random post-poop zoomies are no exception.
If this happens to your cat, you’re not alone. There are a lot of other cats who run away from their litter box after pooping — but there’s no straightforward answer as to why.
“There are many potential reasons why cats run after pooping, and it may be a combination of factors that prompt the behavior,” Amy Shojai, a certified animal behavior consultant in Texas, told The Dodo.
While there isn’t a definitive answer for why cats run after pooping, The Dodo spoke to Shojai to get the scoop on what behaviorists think could be happening.
He has poophoria
When a cat poops, it stimulates a nerve in their body that gives them a euphoric feeling, which might explain why your cat gets the zoomies.
The nerve that’s being stimulated is called the vagus nerve, and it runs from the brain throughout the body, including the entire digestive tract, Shojai said. “The nerve has multiple functions, such as reducing inflammation and also impacting feelings of stress, anxiety and fear.”
“Some experts speculate that defecation stimulates the nerve in some fashion that gives a sort of weird kitty ‘high’ that cats express with zoomies,” Shojai explained.
It’s his survival instincts
In the wild, a cat has a natural inclination to stay far away from the scent of elimination as a way to protect themselves against predators.
It might be because he thinks he smells another predator’s poop (when it’s his own), or he might think a predator can smell his poop, so he wants to get as far away from the scene of the crime as possible.
Even if you don’t think your cat’s poop has a scent, it’s actually really pungent for him — which makes his behavior all the more urgent. “We know that cats have highly developed scent sense, so what may be a mild aroma to us could be highly offensive to the cat,” Shojai said.
Pooping makes him uncomfortable
Your cat might run from the litter box because pooping is painful for him, so he wants to leave the location as soon as he’s done.
“Cats that feel discomfort during elimination (constipation, for example) may ‘blame’ the box,” Shojai said. “After they finish, they scoot away from the location, possibly associating the facilities with the discomfort.”
If your cat is constipated, he might strain while using the litter box or avoid his litter box altogether. If you notice these signs, or if your cat hasn’t pooped in more than three days, you should contact your vet ASAP.
He’s happy to relieve himself
“Another reason may be that the cat simply feels so darn GOOD after emptying that he has to run around in a joyful display,” Shojai said.
And if your cat is feeling well-rested, this might amplify his happiness, leading to the inevitable post-poop zoomies.
“Lots of cats indulge in ‘zoomies’ (crazy-running episodes) in the evening, probably due to napping all day and wanting to spend all that pent-up energy,” Shojai said. “If it coincides with a visit to the litter box, that may become a habit.”