Head shaking in cats
Why do cats shake their heads?
Occasional head shaking is perfectly normal but regular head shaking often indicates a problem. Common causes include:
- Ear infection
- Aural haematoma
- Ear mites
- Something stuck inside the ear (foreign body)
- Ear injury
- Allergic or inflammatory skin disease
- A lump (growth) in the ear.
Tell your vet if you have noticed any other symptoms such as itchy ears, smelly ears, face rubbing or loss of balance. If you take a careful look inside your cats, ears you may even see that one (or both) of them look red, swollen or gunky.
It’s important to know the difference between a head shake and a head tremor. A head shake is when your cat shakes their head on purpose, a head tremor is when they develop a shake that they can’t control. If your cat suddenly develops a head tremor (a shake they cannot control), contact your vet for an emergency appointment.
Published: August 2019
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Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only.
Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst