As a cat owner, I’ve learned a lot about the quirks that come with sharing my home with a feline. Some habits are adorable, like “making biscuits” on cozy blankies. Others can be baffling, like when I noticed my sweet girl always goes a bit crazy after going #2 in her litter box. I’m talking full-on zoomies, here: bolting out of the box, crashing around the living room, and whizzing around the entire house at top speed. At first I thought she was just being a weirdo, but it turns out she’s not the only cat who has this strange potty behavior.
There are a lot of theories on the subject; some think that felines might simply be offended by their own odorous bowel movements and want to get as far away from them as quickly as possible. That’s certainly understandable, but doesn’t quite explain why they stay in such a crazed state for a while afterward.
Let’s get a bit TMI for a moment here (if we haven’t already): We humans all know the satisfying feeling of a particularly efficient… release. Anish Sheth, MD, a gastroenterologist and co-author of What’s Your Poo Telling You ($8.58, Amazon), explains in her book that this is due to a part of our body called the vagus nerve. It runs from our brainstems to our colon, and gives us that feeling of elation from a simple trip to the toilet.
Cats have the same nerve, but a much smaller body connecting the areas that get triggered by it. Erin Willis, an animal psychologist from Oklahoma State University, spoke with the Dodo about how that is likely the answer for post-pooping zoomies in cats. “Dr. Sheth calls the pleasurable sensation with defecation ‘poo-phoria,’” she explained. “Good name for humans I guess, but the term ‘poop crazies’ is much better for cats, in my opinion, since they essentially run around like crazy cats afterward.”
There ya have it: Cats who go nuts after going #2 are probably just feeling that boost of joy from the vagus nerve. If your cat seems to be running away from the litter box without signs of happiness, however, they may be experiencing pain or discomfort. In that case, you need to get them to the vet ASAP.
Otherwise, just enjoy this as another hilarious part of having a silly cat living with you.
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