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Why Do Cats Shake Their Heads?

Last Updated on July 29, 2023 by admin

Cats shake their heads for ear infections, aural hematomas, ear mites, biting too much food, foreign material in the ear, proprioceptive activation, fur arrangement and expression of appreciation.

Cats shake their heads for a variety of reasons. Common causes include ear infections, aural hematomas, ear mites, biting too much food, foreign material in the ear, proprioceptive activation and fur arrangement. Ear infections are the most common reason for head shaking, and cats will often shake their heads and scratch at their ears to try and relieve the irritation. An aural hematoma, sometimes referred to as ‘pillow ear’, isn’t actually a cause of head shaking but is something that can occur as a result of excessive shaking. Ear mites can also cause head shaking, as well as a black discharge, scratching and other symptoms, although they are generally found in kittens. Sometimes cats shake their heads after biting too much food, and this is thought to be because they want to tear the food apart. Foreign material in the ear can also cause a cat to shake their head, and this can include hairs, tiny seeds and other objects. Finally, cats shake their heads to activate their propriocepters and to arrange their fur in its natural position for water resistance. They may also shake their heads after being petted as an expression of appreciation.

Occasional Head Shaking Is Normal

Cats are known to shake their heads from time to time, but what does this behavior mean? The occasional head shake is perfectly normal for cats and typically indicates that they are comfortable or content. It may also be a sign that they are attempting to appreciate their petting and to express their pleasure. However, if your cat suddenly starts shaking its head more than usual, it’s likely to indicate a problem.

How Can I Tell if My Cat Has Ear Mites at Home?

To determine if your cat has ear mites at home, there are several signs to look out for. Excessive scratching of the ears, shaking of the head, and the presence of dark, crumbly discharge in the ears are common indications. Additionally, if you notice a strong odor emanating from your cat’s ears, it could be a sign of ear mites. These mites are tiny parasites that can be seen with the naked eye, resembling small white dots. However, it is important to note that diagnosing ear mites at home may not be accurate. Seeking veterinary attention is recommended for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Why Do Cats Shake Their Heads When Playing?

Cats shake their heads when playing as a way to release excess energy and excitement. This natural behavior helps them engage their muscles and maintain their balance, especially during moments of intense play. The shaking motion also aids in their ability to focus and concentrate on their prey or toy, allowing them to stay engaged in the game. In most cases, this head shaking is not a cause for concern unless it becomes excessive or is accompanied by other signs of distress or discomfort. Overall, it is a normal and instinctive behavior that allows cats to fully enjoy their playtime.

What Does It Mean When Cats Shake Their Ears?

When cats shake their ears, it often indicates an attempt to alleviate discomfort or irritation. This behavior can be a sign of various issues, including parasites, mites, or ear infections. Additionally, it may indicate the presence of lice, fleas, or growths on the ears. While cats may shake their ears several times a day as a natural behavior, frequent shaking can be a cause for concern. Another sign of discomfort is when cats rub or scratch at the affected ear with their paws. In some cases, cats may shake their ears to dislodge bugs or alleviate irritation. Therefore, it is important to monitor ear shaking behavior in cats and consult a veterinarian if it becomes excessive or if other signs of discomfort are present.

Is It Normal for Cats to Shake Their Heads?

Yes, it is normal for cats to occasionally shake their heads. However, if a cat is shaking its head frequently, it could be an indication of an underlying health issue. Some common causes of frequent head shaking in cats include ear infections, mites, and polyps. It is important to consult a veterinarian in order to identify the specific cause of the frequent head shaking. The veterinarian will be able to conduct a thorough examination and recommend appropriate treatment options based on the underlying cause. Therefore, while occasional head shaking is normal for cats, frequent head shaking should be addressed and evaluated by a professional.

Underlying Medical Conditions

Occasional head shaking is perfectly normal but if your cat suddenly starts shaking their head a lot more than usual it’s likely to indicate a problem. In some cases, it could be caused by an underlying medical condition such as ear infections, allergies, mites, or oral problems. Geriatric vestibular disease, in which the precise cause may never be identified, can also cause head shaking in cats. If your cat is exhibiting this behavior, it’s best to take them to the vet for an examination as soon as possible.

Aural (Ear) Hematoma

One of the more serious reasons why cats shake their heads is due to an aural (ear) hematoma. This is a collection of blood in the cat’s earflap or cartilage, and appears as a swelling that feels soft and warm. It is often caused by trauma from head shaking or scratching secondary to otitis externa, or external ear infection, or other conditions. Excessive or violent shaking causes one or more blood vessels to break, resulting in bleeding into the space between the ear cartilage and skin. This can be very painful for your kitty and they may tilt their head to one side as a result. Veterinary attention is necessary to resolve this issue, so if you suspect your cat is suffering from an aural hematoma, see your vet right away.

Ear Infections

Ear infections are one of the most common causes of head shaking in cats. Many cats will shake their heads and scratch their ears to remove debris and fluid from the ear, as the discomfort from an ear infection can be quite severe. In fact, of all the reasons for head shaking in a cat, an ear infection is the most common. Thankfully, ear infections are highly treatable. To determine if your cat has an ear infection, check your cat’s ears for redness, swelling, and/or discharge. Your veterinarian may also recommend a thorough cleaning and an antibiotic ointment or drops to clear up the infection.

Fur Arrangement

Apart from medical reasons, cats may also shake their heads to arrange their fur. Cats have a layer of fur that helps keep them warm and dry in the wild, so they shake their heads to properly position it. This allows the fur to fall into its natural place, and it also helps with water resistance. In addition, when cats are eating, they may shake their head as a way of getting food off their ears.

Appreciation of Petting

One way cats show their appreciation of petting is by purring, which can be a sign of contentment. They also may display affection through head-butting, which is when they press their forehead against you. Additionally, cats may lay belly-up when they are comfortable with you, indicating trust and relaxation. Sometimes, cats will even vibrate when being petted, often in the area near their tail. This is thought to be a sign of heightened arousal or pleasure and demonstrates the unique ways cats communicate their feelings.

Tearing Food

Sometimes cats will shake their heads for various reasons, including tearing food. When cats bite too much, they will often shake their heads and shake off the excess food. This happens because the cat wants to tear the food, which helps them to eat more efficiently. It’s important to remember that occasional head shaking is normal and shouldn’t be cause for concern. If you have noticed your cat shaking their head more than normal, however, it’s important to book an appointment with your vet to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

Ear Mites

Ear mites are a common cause of head shaking in cats. Ear mites are small parasites that live in and around the ears of cats, and can cause a lot of discomfort. These mites will cause cats to shake their heads and scratch themselves around the ears, head and neck in an effort to remove the debris and fluid from the ear canal. Ear mites are often caused by the introduction of a kitten into the household that has ear mites itself. Make sure that any new cats you bring into your home are checked for ear mites before introducing them to your existing cat. A trip to the vet is recommended if your cat is exhibiting frequent head shaking and scratching in order to determine if there are any underlying medical conditions or ear mites present.

Oral Problems

In addition to the other causes of head shaking and scratching, cats may also shake their heads due to oral problems. Tooth decay, gum disease, and other dental issues can cause severe pain and discomfort in cats. They may shake their heads as a means of trying to relieve this pain. Cats with dental problems may also paw at their mouths or increase their chewing activity. If you believe your cat is shaking their head due to an oral problem, take them to the vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Activating Propriocepters

Though shaking their heads may appear to be an odd behavior, cats do it for a number of reasons. One of the reasons is to activate proprioceptors. Proprioceptors are sensory receptors located throughout the body that help cats interpret their position and movement. When cats shake their heads, they are activating these proprioceptors which help them interpret their movement and leverage their balance. As such, when cats shake their heads they can gain more control over their movements. Additionally, it can also help them relieve any associated tension or stress.