A cat head shaking like Parkinson’s should be a reason for concern and immediate attention. If you notice your pet cat shaking her head repeatedly for no apparent reason at all, you should bring her to the vet at once because it could be a sign of health conditions like feline infectious peritonitis, insulinoma, or cerebellar hypoplasia. It could also mean that she has allergies, an ear infection, fleas, or an oral problem.
Reasons why a cat’s head is shaking like Parkinson’s
Here are the common reasons for a cat head shaking like Parkinson’s:
Feline infectious peritonitis or FIP
FIP is a viral disease that affects both wild and domesticated cats. It is caused by a coronavirus that attacks the cells of the intestinal walls. Its symptoms include a fever that does not respond to antibiotics, weight loss, lethargy, and labored breathing. Since it also affects the neurological system it oftentimes leads to head shaking and seizures. Cats affected with FIP usually won’t be able to survive, fortunately, this is a rare condition and seldom happens in households with only one or two cats.
This is an insulin-secreting mass or functional tumor in the beta cells of a cat’s pancreas. The over-production of insulin results in low blood glucose or sugar and leads to the manifestation of neurologic signs like seizures and general weakness. Cats with insulinoma may also collapse. Treatment for this medical condition may include nutritional therapy, medication like prednisolone, and therapy.
It’s a neurological disorder wherein a cat’s brain didn’t fully develop while still in her mother’s womb. It’s a congenital disorder and already present at birth and cats with this condition have an underdeveloped cerebellum which is responsible for coordination, fine motor skills, and spatial awareness. As a result, cats with this condition often shake and bob their head, walks with a wobbly gait, and have trouble keeping themselves balanced while walking, running, and jumping. This condition is not painful nor contagious and doesn’t worsen or improve over time. The key is to help a cat affected by this condition eventually adapt to the condition so she may still be able to live a happy and healthy life as she ages.
If you notice your cat’s head shaking like Parkinson’s even though she may appear normal and healthy, try to check her mouth. Most likely, she may be experiencing some oral issues like gingivitis. Check out for signs like drooling, licking, and pawing. Your cat may also experience a loss of appetite and may stop grooming herself because of oral pain. If this is the case, bring her to the vet at once for immediate treatment of her condition.
Spasticity or myopathy
This is a genetic disease that only affects Devon Rex and Sphynx cat breeds as a result of mutation. It’s a muscle weakness condition and affected cats repeatedly bob their head giving the impression of head-shaking like Parkinson’s and may also have difficulty swallowing their food. It can manifest among Devon Rex and Sphynx kittens as young as six weeks old. Thankfully, this disease can be prevented with the help of a DNA test.
Cats are also prone to allergies and may be allergic to certain a food, plants, pollen, grass, or fleas. These allergies can cause itching in the neck and head area resulting in a head-shaking like Parkinson’s. If this happens, try to isolate your cat from such allergens, or better yet bring her to the vet at once.
Cats that have ear infections like otitis externa may shake their heads constantly to ease the discomfort. This ear infection results in great pain due to the accumulation of fluid inside the ear canal. Your cat’s ears may become inflamed and may emit an annoying odor caused by a black or yellow discharge. The culprit is usually fungus, bacteria, or ear mites. You must bring your cat to the vet at once so she may be treated immediately with antibiotics and fungal treatment.
Cats may also repeatedly shake their heads because of aural hematoma, a blood blister that forms in the inner side of a cat’s ear flap because of a burst blood vessel. Oftentimes, it’s the result of an injury or trauma. Don’t attempt to treat it by yourself and it’s wise to bring your cat to the vet right away who will treat it with medication, or in worst cases, with surgery.
Other probable causes for the head-shaking that’s related to the ear may also be the presence of ear mites, ear injury, or a foreign body or particle that may be lodged inside your cat’s ear. A proper consultation with your vet is needed to properly assess situations like this.
Insect and flea bites
Another probable reason why your cat’s head is shaking like Parkinson’s is that she was bitten by fleas, ticks, or other insects like wasps. If a cat is bitten or stung near the head or neck area it may cause swelling, itching, and head shaking. While this doesn’t qualify as an emergency, you should consult your vet at once so the proper treatment may be given.
Head shake versus head tremor
A head shake is when a cat shakes its head on purpose while a head tremor is when she develops a shake that’s out of her control. In such a case, you should consult your vet right away to assess the severity of the situation.
Take special notice if your perfectly healthy cat suddenly shakes her head as if she has Parkinson’s disease. Observe and monitor her closely if the head shaking happens randomly. If so, it could be due to an insect bite, an oral problem, or an ear infection. However, if the head shaking is severe and done repeatedly and uncontrollably, it may require urgent attention and emergency treatment as it may be due to feline infectious peritonitis or insulinoma. Nevertheless, it’s best to take the necessary precautions and you should have your pet kitty checked by the vet to ensure that proper treatment may be given to alleviate her condition.