cat shaking head

Why is My Cat Shaking Its Head ?

If you notice your cat constantly shaking its head, it could be an indication of a medical condition that requires attention. The underlying cause can vary in severity, ranging from minor issues to more serious health concerns.

It’s crucial to promptly investigate the cause and seek veterinary guidance to initiate appropriate treatment, providing your cat with much-needed relief.

Persistent head shaking in cats may be a symptom of an underlying ear infection, which is a common culprit. Ear infections can cause discomfort and irritation, leading to the cat’s instinctive response of shaking its head to alleviate the discomfort.

However, it’s important not to dismiss this behavior as trivial, as it can also be a sign of more significant problems that require medical intervention. To ensure your cat’s well-being, it’s advisable to consult your veterinarian without delay.

They will conduct a thorough examination to identify the root cause of the head shaking and provide an accurate diagnosis. This allows for the implementation of an appropriate treatment plan tailored to your cat’s specific condition. By seeking prompt veterinary care, you can alleviate your cat’s discomfort and address any underlying issues contributing to the head shaking.

Taking action swiftly not only helps your feline companion find relief but also prevents the condition from potentially worsening or causing further complications.

Remember, your veterinarian is the best resource to determine the cause of your cat’s head shaking and recommend the most effective treatment options. By working together, you can ensure that your beloved pet receives the necessary care and attention to restore their well-being.

Understanding the intricate language of cats involves paying attention to their ear movements, which can reveal a wealth of information about their well-being and communication.

The most common causes for a cat shaking its head

Cat shaking its head due to an ear infection

When it comes to head shaking in cats, one common underlying cause is an ear infection. Cats, just like dogs, are susceptible to ear infections, making it essential to identify and address this issue promptly.

During a veterinary visit for head shaking concerns, the veterinarian will employ an otoscope to visualize the cat’s ear canals.

cat ear infection

This examination helps assess inflammation within the ear canal and determine the integrity of the tympanic membrane, also known as the eardrum. It is a crucial step as certain ear medications can be harmful to the inner ear, emphasizing the need for careful evaluation.

Once the ear canal examination is completed, the veterinarian will collect samples of the discharge from the cat’s ears. These samples are then examined under a microscope, allowing for microscopic evaluation. The veterinarian may observe various findings, including cocci or rod-shaped bacteria, budding yeast, or the presence of ear mites.

Ear mites

Ear mites, known as Otodectes cynotis, are ectoparasites that infest the ears of cats. Although more commonly found in outdoor or stray cats, they can still affect indoor cats. Ear mites cause intense itching, leading cats to shake their heads in an attempt to alleviate the discomfort.

Based on the microscope examination findings and the condition of the cat’s eardrums, the veterinarian will determine the appropriate treatment. This may involve prescribing medication to address the underlying infection or providing treatment specifically targeting ear mite infestations.

It is crucial to promptly address ear infections or ear mite infestations in cats to alleviate discomfort and prevent further complications. By seeking veterinary care and following the recommended treatment plan, you can help your feline companion find relief and restore their ear health.

Remember, each cat’s situation is unique, and the veterinarian is best equipped to diagnose and recommend appropriate treatment based on their professional expertise. By working closely with your veterinarian, you can ensure your cat receives the necessary care and attention to resolve the underlying ear issue and promote their overall well-being.

Cat shaking head due to allergies

Allergies can afflict cats just like they do humans, causing them significant discomfort. Cats can develop allergies through various means, including contact with certain substances, inhalation of allergens, exposure to specific foods, or even insect bites, particularly from fleas.

These allergies often manifest as intense itching, primarily around the head, neck, ears, and can contribute to episodes of head shaking. When you bring your cat to the veterinarian for allergy-related symptoms, they may prescribe medications to provide temporary relief from itching.

However, the focus will also be on identifying the underlying allergen responsible for the allergic reaction. If fleas or flea dirt are detected, your veterinarian may recommend switching to a different monthly topical flea preventative to address the flea infestation effectively.

In cases where a food allergy is suspected, a dietary change may be necessary. To determine if your cat has a food allergy, a strict food trial is typically conducted. During this trial, your cat’s diet is restricted exclusively to a limited-ingredient or hydrolyzed food recommended by your veterinarian for a period of six to eight weeks.

It’s essential to strictly adhere to the prescribed food during this time, which means avoiding any other treats, human food, or flavored supplements. By adhering to the food trial, you can effectively evaluate if the cat’s symptoms improve or subside, providing a definitive diagnosis of a food allergy.

Food trials are rigorous and require commitment from cat owners, as any deviation from the prescribed diet can compromise the accuracy of the results. However, successfully completing a food trial can provide valuable insights into whether your cat suffers from a food allergy, helping guide future dietary choices to manage their allergies effectively.

It’s important to consult with your veterinarian to determine the best course of action for managing your cat’s allergies. They will provide guidance on suitable medications, conduct necessary tests or examinations, and recommend appropriate dietary adjustments to alleviate your cat’s discomfort and improve their overall quality of life. By working closely with your veterinarian, you can develop a tailored plan to address your cat’s allergies and provide them with the relief they need.

Cat shaking head due to inflammatory polyps

Polyps are a condition that can affect cats, known as feline inflammatory polyps, characterized by the development of benign growths originating from the surface of the middle ear, outer ear, or nasal cavity.

The symptoms experienced by a cat with polyps will vary depending on the location of the growth, but common signs can include head shaking, scratching at the ears, sneezing, head tilt, drooping eyelid, abnormal eye movement, noisy breathing, ear infections, and nasal or ocular discharge.

It’s important to note that polyps can only be effectively treated through surgical removal.

Insect bites

Just like in dogs, insect bites are another concern for cats, especially considering their natural predatory instincts. Cats are prone to getting bitten by various insects, often on their face and paws. When a cat is bitten, they may exhibit a localized reaction at the bite site, which can include swelling, inflammation, itching, hives, and, in some cases, head shaking.

If your veterinarian suspects that your cat has experienced an insect bite, they may prescribe antihistamines or steroids to alleviate inflammation and provide relief. In rare instances, a cat may experience an anaphylactic reaction, which is a severe allergic response requiring immediate veterinary attention to ensure the cat’s safety and well-being.

If you observe any of these symptoms in your cat, it is crucial to consult with your veterinarian for a comprehensive examination and accurate diagnosis. They will conduct a thorough assessment to determine the underlying cause of your cat’s symptoms and recommend appropriate treatment options.

Whether it involves surgical removal of polyps or the administration of medication to address the effects of insect bites, your veterinarian will guide you through the necessary steps to provide your cat with the appropriate care and alleviate their discomfort.

Cat with “pillow ear” shaking its head

Aural hematoma, also known as “pillow ear,” is a condition that can occur as a consequence of excessive head shaking in cats. The cat’s vigorous head shaking can cause small blood vessels within the ear pinna (flap) to burst, resulting in the accumulation of blood and a swollen, pillow-like appearance of the ear.

While aural hematoma itself may not be the direct cause of head shaking, it is often associated with this behavior. If your cat develops an aural hematoma, it is important to consult your veterinarian for appropriate treatment options. The chosen treatment will depend on various factors, and your vet will discuss these options with you.

In cases where the hematoma is not causing significant discomfort to the cat, your vet may decide to drain the accumulated fluid. However, it’s important to note that the fluid may build up again due to the empty space left behind. To prevent re-accumulation, your vet may consider additional measures such as administering steroids to reduce inflammation, applying a bandage to the ear (although cats may not tolerate this well), or using cold laser therapy.

As the hematoma heals, the ear may crinkle, but this is usually a cosmetic concern and does not pose any medical risks. In fact, some people may find the crinkled ear adds character to the cat’s appearance. In cases where the hematoma is more extensive, surgical intervention may be recommended to prevent scarring that could potentially narrow the ear canal.

The surgical procedure involves making an incision to drain the fluid and then using sutures to bring the pinna together, preventing reaccumulation before it has a chance to scar and heal. While crinkling of the ear is less common as a complication of surgical repair, it’s important to note that even with successful treatment, the pinna may not sit in its normal position after the hematoma resolves.

However, this does not typically pose any medical concerns. If you suspect your cat has an aural hematoma or notice any changes in their ear appearance or behavior, it is crucial to seek veterinary attention promptly. Your veterinarian will assess the condition, discuss treatment options, and provide the necessary care to ensure your cat’s well-being and comfort.

It is important to exercise caution and avoid attempting to treat excessive head shaking in cats on your own. Using over-the-counter ear drops, even if you suspect an ear infection, may not be suitable for the specific type of infection your cat has. Moreover, there is a risk of causing side effects such as deafness if the ear drum is damaged.

Therefore, it is crucial not to delay and instead promptly schedule an appointment with your regular veterinarian to have your cat’s head shaking thoroughly examined and properly addressed. By seeking professional veterinary care, you can ensure the most appropriate and effective treatment for your cat’s specific condition.

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