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Why Is My Cat Shaking His Head

Should You Be Concerned

The answer is yes. If left untreated permanent ear damage can occur including a ruptured eardrum or even hearing loss. Problems such as Aural Haematomas can develop as a result of persistent or aggressive head shaking . Any chronic inflammatory process not treated is painful. If you have ever had a bad ear ache, you will no doubt remember the associated pain you felt before treatment.

Infections In The Middle And Inner Ear

Infections in the middle and inner ear start from the outer ear. Usually it is an untreated outer ear infection that travels inwardly into the middle and inner ear. These infections are a lot more serious than those in the outer ear because of the sensitive inner tissue needed for hearing. If left untreated, this can cause the cat to become deaf.

Aside from constant head shaking and pawing at the ears, other symptoms to spot are:

  • Tilting their head
  • Blinking and squinting more than usual
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite

The cat needs to be taken to the vet as soon as you suspect a deep ear infection. Tests will need to be done to assess the level of infection and plan out the most effective treatment.

How To Determine The Problem

Because your pet cannot tell you whats wrong, it can be hard to determine what exactly is wrong with your dog or cat. The ear canal of a cat or dog is L-shaped, and issues are typically hidden very deep within the canal and out of your sight. The ear tube and canal is narrow, and it is lined with an epithelium. Problems with the ear can result in the epithelium to swell up, reducing the size of the canal, and as a result, it makes it hard for discharge to leave the canal.

If you see your cat or dog shaking its head constantly, that is enough to warrant an investigation such as a check-up at the local veterinarian. However, here are some other signs that may indicate issues:

  • Ear scratching
  • Redness or swelling of the ear flap
  • Foul odor or discharge coming directly from the ear
  • Tenderness or irritability when the ear is touched
  • Holding of the head in a strange position
  • Hearing loss

Make sure that you never use cotton buds or attempt to stick anything in your dog or cats ears unless a veterinarian has instructed you to do so.

Tumors Or Growths In The Ear Canal

Head shaking is a common clinical sign exhibited by pets with ear canal tumors. It is often accompanied by persistent strong-smelling ear discharge, an inflamed, itchy, and painful ear, and ear scratching. If the growth occurs in the middle or inner ear, the dog may also experience loss of balance and coordination, circling, head tilting, facial paralysis, loss of hearing, darting of the eyes back and forth , and other neurologic symptoms.

Allergies Sometimes Make Cats Itchy

Cat Health Problems: Why

One of these issues could simply be an allergy. Allergies in cats are common, and they can have a wide variety of triggers. For example, they could be allergic to a certain brand of cat food, a certain species of plant, pesticides that you may use to avoid fleas and ticks, and they can even be allergic to the saliva of those particular parasites.

A veterinarian can help to diagnose allergies in cats. Once the allergen trigger is identified, you should do your best to adjust you and your cat’s lifestyle to eliminate the allergen. This way, your kitty can live much more comfortably.

What Are Ear Mites

Ear mites are tiny animals and are a fairly common parasite in both cats and dogs. They look like tiny white dots, but can barely be seen with the naked eye. 

Ear mites live on the skin of the ear canal and feed off ear wax and skin oils. An adult normally lives for around two months, but they can multiply quickly. Eggs take just four days to hatch and a further three weeks to develop into an adult mite ready to breed.

Why Does My Cat Shake His Head When I Touch His Ears

Cats ears are very sensitive, so if you try to touch their earlobes, they will perform a quick head shake. Take this as a sign that the touch is unwelcome.

Most cats like scratches behind their ears and not within the earflap. But if the head shaking isnt going away, its best to rule out the possibilities I discussed above. Learn here How to stop a cat from scratching door frames

Parasites Might Cause A Cat To Scratch

If this is not the issue, then it may be related to parasites alone. Check your cat’s ears for signs of ticks, fleas, and mites. These parasites can cause obsessive scratching, as the cat makes a desperate effort to relieve pain and discomfort. If your cat is not allergic, try using natural tick or flea repellents if that seems to be the issue.

The cat will begin to shake its head after scratching to get rid of the pest or irritant, and is usually successful when it comes to dirt or larger pests. For mites and other small creatures, shaking the head will not get rid of them. There are many different prescriptions and over-the-counter treatments available to help get rid of parasites. The best solution is to visit a vet so that he or she can give your pet a whole check-up to identify the source of the issue.

Possible Culprit: Ear Vasculitis

Some breeds, like Dachshunds and Jack Russell Terriers, are susceptible to ear vasculitis, an inflammation of the vessels in the pinna or ear flap.

Its believed that the condition is caused by an immune disorder, frostbite or fly bites, but other environmental factors may also be partly to blame.

The problem usually starts with a thickening of the outside margins of the ears, which eventually become ulcerated and crust over. Dogs with these lesions may shake their heads, causing the scabs to break open and bleed.

What Should I Do If My Cat Keeps Shaking Their Head But Not Because Of Ear Mites

Your cats natural response to an ear infection is to paw at their ears or to shake their heads. An ear infection not caused by ear mites is most probably due to an outer, middle, or inner ear infection. It can also be due to an allergic reaction or an injury from a fight. It is also possible that a foreign object found its way inside the cats ear, or it can be due to an aural hematoma or a growth in the ear canal.

Either way, whatever the cause of the irritation or infection, bring your cat to the vet so they can perform the proper procedures that need to be done and give the medication that needs to be given.

Symptoms Of Ear Infections

Apart from head shaking, be keen to note other symptoms that signify an ear infection. Below are some common symptoms that will accompany this infection.

  • Yellow or black discharge
  • The ear becomes red and swollen
  • A strong smell emanating from the ear
  • Hearing loss
  • Growth of thick hairs inside the ear
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Exposure to some harmful foreign bodies such as grass or dust

All these factors result to an ear infection characterized with frequent head shaking. The vet, after diagnosing the cause, may recommend various treatments depending on the cause i.e. antifungals, antibiotics, and so on.  Moreover, the vet may thoroughly clean the ear canal, especially if there is a mass accumulation of wax and dust particles.

Injury Sustained During A Fight

More common to outdoor cats, scratches and small abrasions in a cats ear can be caused by getting attacked or bitten by another cat or another animal. The wound is painful so your cat instinctually will shake his head whenever the pain starts. 

Cats are fiercely territorial so it is not that uncommon for them to get into a tussle with creatures they deem as intruders. Since cat ears are exposed and quite delicate, they take damage easily.

Make sure to clean the small wounds and the surrounding area so that it heals and your kitty can recover quickly.

If you find larger or deeper wounds, it is best to take the cat to the vet for professional care, because antibiotics may need to be given to avoid risking infection.

Causes Of Head Shaking In Cats

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If youve noticed your cat shaking his head more frequently and are perplexed at what the possible cause may be, youre not alone! Ear infections are a common cause of head shaking and scratching in cats and can vary depending on the type of infection your cat has. In addition, other culprits that could be to blame may include foreign objects that are lodged in their ear or an allergy. The first step towards getting your cat the help he needs to start feeling better soon is identifying what the underlying cause of the head shaking is. Below are a handful of potential causes of head shaking in cats and their associated symptoms.

How To Recognize And Treat Mites On Your Cat

Recognizing mites and knowing how to treat them is important to the health of your cat.

Reading time: 5 minutes

Recognizing mites and knowing how to treat them is important to the well being of your pet cat. The mites themselves are a big problem; however, the real danger is your cat scratching itself in an attempt to relieve the itching. This repeated scratching can result in a number of deep wounds, as the itching becomes much more relentless.

Along with the worry for your pet’s health, there are also the serious health ramifications for individuals living alongside suffering animals. Mites can only thrive when given a host to feed off, but this also means that they can travel from one host to another. This means that you and other people or animals in your household are prone to catching the mites and suffering from the same problems as your cat.

How Do You Tell What The Problem Is

As a pet owner it is extremely difficult to tell what the problem is. A dog or cat’s ear canal is L shaped and problems are often hidden deep in the canal out of sight. The narrow ear tube/ canal is lined with an epithelium and ear problems can cause the epithelium to swell and subsequently reduce the size of the ear canal. This in turn makes it very difficult for any discharge to make its way to the external ear.

Head shaking on its own is enough to warrant further investigation, ie. a veterinary health check-up. However, the following signs could also indicate problems:-

  • Foul odour or discharge coming from the ear
  • Ear scratching
  • Holding the head in an unusual position
  • Tenderness, irritability when you touch the ear
  • Redness or swelling of the ear pinna/ flap
  • Hearing loss

Please do not use cotton buds or try to poke anything in your pet’s ears unless you have been instructed to do so.

Signs Your Cat May Have Ear Mites

An ear mite infection will cause your cats ears to itch. This often results in them:

  • shaking their head or scratching their ears excessively
  • having red and inflamed ears caused by extra wax and irritation
  • producing a black, dry ear discharge which can sometimes let off a bad smell

Irritation in a cats ear can also be caused by allergies leading to an infection that can look similar to ear mites. So, its crucial that you get your pet to the vet for a proper diagnosis. 

Do You Need To Be Concerned

Yes, you need to be concerned. If ear issues are left untreated, permanent ear damage can result, which may include a ruptured eardrum or possibly even hearing loss. Issues like Aural Haematomas may develop due to aggressive or persistent head shaking. If there is a chronic inflammatory process like a bad infection, it can be incredibly painful. Think about when you have a really bad earacheyou can understand the pain that your dog or cat is experiencing.

What Is Involuntary Muscle Trembling

Involuntary muscle trembling, or fasciculations, describes a condition in which muscles tremble, twitch, or spasm uncontrollably. This can occur in cats and other companion animals for various reasons. Muscle trembling normally occurs in response to irritants or emotions and is not necessarily related to any medical condition. It is also possible that trembling or twitching might be caused by a genetic condition and is untreatable, but not dangerous. In some cases, fasciculation occurs as a sign of another disease or disorder. Some medical conditions that cause muscle trembling can be severe and may be life-threatening. If muscle trembling continues, seek medical attention for your cat. 

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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 wont be able to survive, fortunately, this is a rare condition and seldom happens in households with only one or two cats. 

Are A Cat’s Itchy Ears Always A Problem

When itching and scratching can be signs of issues that can pose serious health consequences, it may raise the question “Should a cat ever scratch its ears?” Just like us, kittens and cats get itchy too. Therefore the answer is yes. However, how much scratching is too much? Personally, I would say that itching 3 times per hour is a good indicator that something is aggravating your kitty’s ear.

It never hurts to occasionally check your cat’s ear for signs of irritation, dirt, or infection every few days when paying them attention. It is quick and easy to do. By doing this, you will develop a heightened awareness of your animal’s everyday health, which is a very important trait of a responsible pet owner.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the authors knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2012 angryelf

What To Do If Your Cat Scratches Its Ear And Shakes Its Head Excessively

PetMd: Cat Scratching Ear Shaking Head

With any amount of scratching, abrasions, irritation, and breaks in the skin may occur. It is wise to give your cat an antibiotic , and to apply topical antibacterial ointments and creams to avoid further infection and discomfort.

Cats carry lots of bacteria and germs under their claws, and this is made worse by usage of a litter box. This makes them highly susceptible to infection, especially when the claws introduce viruses, parasites, and bacteria into open wounds via claws. When your cat begins scratching its ears and shaking its head, it is time to take a look!

Recovery Of Involuntary Muscle Trembling In Cats

The prognosis for recovery will depend on the underlying cause of the muscle trembling. Trembling may never go away in some cases, but it is still possible for your pet to live a normal life. If the underlying cause is treatable, most cats will make a full recovery as long as they respond well to treatment. Certain causes of involuntary muscle trembling may respond less to treatment, and in these cases, recovery may not be possible. In any case, your care and support will benefit your pet. 

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Possible Culprit: Ear Hematomas

Sometimes all that head shaking can actually create problems. When tender ears slap against the hard skull, blood vessels within the pinna can break open, forming a pocket of blood known as a hematoma. This firm lump just under the skin will often lead to even more head shaking.

If your dog is shaking his head more than usual, make an appointment to see your vet. With the correct diagnosis, she can provide the best treatment to relieve the irritation, which may require your pet to wear an Elizabethan collar for a week or two. Its a small price to pay for a more comfortable and relaxed .

Diagnosis Of Involuntary Muscle Trembling In Cats

Various diagnostic techniques may be needed to determine what is causing the trembling or twitching. Your veterinarian will begin with a full physical examination and medical history. You should discuss any signs you have observed, including how frequent the trembling occurs and which portions of the cats body are affected. If the fasciculation is episodic and does not occur all the time, a video recording of the trembling may aid your veterinarian in forming a diagnosis. Veterinary staff might take samples of your cats blood and urine for laboratory analysis. The blood sample will be tested for blood cell counts, biochemistry and electrolyte panels, or antibodies that might indicate an infection. Urinalysis and analysis for proper kidney function will be checked using the urine sample. Additional diagnostic methods, including x-rays or other imaging techniques, may be needed to diagnose your pet properly. 

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Why Is My Cat Shaking: Causes And What You Can Do To Help

As a veterinarian, I often receive panic calls from pet owners asking why their cat is shaking so much. The largest concern is when it becomes seemingly uncontrollable. These complaints are common in my daily routine, and can cause a bit of alarm for pet parents.

Sometimes, trembling or shivering in cats proves fatal. So you should take this odd symptom seriously if its sudden or has become common.

Pets may shiver for many reasons, including fear, anxiety, cold, and noise. Additionally, various medical issues are also associated with the intense shaking of your kitty. Also at play, the age and breed type also directly affect the shivering among pets. Young cats are more vulnerable to shaking as compared to older ones.

Below, Im going to share the most reliable information targeting all your concerns about the shaking of your beloved fur-balls.

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