Why Do Cats Shake Their Heads?

icon July 7, 2023

Have you noticed your cat shaking its head from time to time? You may wonder if something is wrong with your cat’s head, which makes you worried. But does head-shaking behavior definitely represent issues of concern? This article may help you understand this head-shaking behavior and employ the best solution for your cat. Why not try to finish five- minute- reading and find out what you want to know?

What Causes My Cat’s Head Shaking?

Cats may shake their heads for a variety of reasons, and it can be a normal behavior or a sign of an underlying issue. Here are some common reasons why cats shake their heads:

        Normal Reasons:
Water in the ears: If a cat gets water in its ears while bathing or from being exposed to rain, they may shake their heads to try to remove the water.

Grooming behavior: Cats are known for their fastidious grooming habits. They may shake their heads after grooming to help remove excess fur or to realign their whiskers.

Behavioral expression: Cats can shake their heads as a way of expressing emotions or communicating. It could be a response to excitement, playfulness, or even frustration.

       Worrying Reasons:

Vestibular issues: If your cat frequently shakes its head, it may indicate a problem with its vestibular system. The vestibular system is responsible for maintaining balance and spatial orientation in mammals. There are several potential vestibular issues that could affect your cat if it exhibits this behavior:

1. Ear Infections:
Infections in the ear, such as otitis externa (inflammation of the external ear canal) or otitis media (inflammation of the middle ear), can cause discomfort and lead to head shaking. Ear infections can affect the balance and equilibrium of your cat.

2. Ear Mites:
Ear mites, such as Otodectes cynotis, are common parasites that infest the ear canals of cats. They can cause irritation, itching, and inflammation, leading to head shaking and scratching at the ears.

3. Trauma or Injury:
If your cat has experienced head trauma or injury, it could damage the vestibular system. Head shaking might be a response to discomfort or an attempt to alleviate the symptoms of balance disruption.

4. Vestibular Disease:
Vestibular disease refers to a condition affecting the vestibular system. It can be caused by various factors, including infections, inflammation, tumors, or degenerative changes. Symptoms may include head tilting, loss of balance, disorientation, and head shaking.

5. Polyps or Tumors:
Growths such as polyps or tumors within the ear or on the nerves associated with the vestibular system can disrupt its normal function. This disruption can manifest as head shaking or other balance-related issues.

If you notice your cat shaking its head excessively, appears to be in pain, or if you see other concerning symptoms like discharge from the ears, redness, swelling, or behavioral changes, it's important to consult a veterinarian. They can evaluate your cat and provide appropriate diagnosis and treatment if needed.
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When To Ask For Help?

If your cat is shaking its head, it's generally a good idea to seek veterinary help if any of the following conditions apply:

Frequency and Intensity:
If your cat is shaking its head frequently or vigorously, it could indicate a more significant problem. Persistent or intense head shaking should prompt a visit to the veterinarian.

If your cat's head shaking persists for an extended period, such as several hours or days, it's advisable to seek professional guidance. Transient or occasional head shaking may not be as concerning, but if it becomes a persistent behavior, it warrants veterinary attention.

Associated Symptoms:
Pay attention to any additional symptoms your cat may exhibit alongside head shaking. These can include redness or discharge from the ears, sensitivity when touched near the ears, changes in appetite or behavior, loss of balance, disorientation, or any other signs of discomfort or illness. The presence of other concerning symptoms should prompt a veterinary visit.

Changes in Behavior:
If your cat's head shaking is accompanied by changes in behavior, such as decreased activity, lethargy, hiding, or vocalization, it may indicate an underlying health issue that requires attention.

History of Ear Issues:
If your cat has a history of recurring ear infections, ear mites, or other ear-related problems, it's important to monitor their head shaking closely and consult with a veterinarian. Chronic or recurrent issues may require further investigation and management.

It's always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to your cat's health. If you're unsure or concerned about your cat's head-shaking behavior, it's best to consult with a veterinarian. They can evaluate your cat, perform a thorough examination, and recommend appropriate diagnostics or treatment options based on their findings.

Final Thoughts:

Head-shaking behavior with normal frequency is no need to worry. But if you find your cat is overly shaking its head, it’s time for your attention, and contact the veterinarian if you have any other worries. Our adorable cats are our treasures worthy of cherishing, and it’s our responsibility to lead them to a happy and healthy life.  

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