All cat owners know that feline behavior can be downright peculiar. These beloved creatures can be very mysterious, but they tend to exhibit telltale signs when something isn’t quite right.
If you’ve noticed your cat trembling, there could be an underlying medical condition at play; however, health problems aren’t the only cause of unexplained shaking or shivering. Sure, felines are fickle, but shaking should never be ignored.
Below, we cover the common reasons cats shake—and what to do about it.
Medical Conditions that Make Cats Shake
There are a multitude of physical health conditions that cause shaking in our four-legged friends. For some, trembling is genetic and present at birth, but many conditions involving shaking arise later in a feline’s life.
These conditions include:
When a cat’s body temperature is too high or too low, shaking and/or shivering can occur. If you suspect your cat has a fever, you can take his temperature rectally. We recommend this helpful step-by-step guide published by WebMD.
Keep in mind that the normal temperature range for cats is 100.5° to 102.5° Fahrenheit. If your feline’s temperature is over 103° , it’s important to contact your veterinarian.
Low body temperature, or hypothermia, should also be addressed, as this can lead to serious health problems down the road.
When a cat’s blood sugar (glucose level) is low, it can cause tremors and seizures, among other scary symptoms. Low blood sugar is rare in healthy adult cats. It can occur if a cat hasn’t eaten for a prolonged period of time, or in diabetics undergoing treatment. Kittens can get hypoglycemia more quickly, so kittens that are not eating should visit the vet.
If your pet suffers from hypoglycemia, your veterinarian might suggest a healthy, consistent diet and regular feeding times. Other interventions may be introduced to ensure your cat is healthy and free from tremors.
Unfortunately, some kitties develop kidney disease, which can make them lethargic and shaky. If you suspect your cat is suffering from kidney disease, contact your veterinarian right away, as this is a serious health condition.
Trauma or Injury
Cats who have experienced traumatic events or injuries may exhibit signs of agitation, including trembling. Head injuries are particularly concerning, so it’s important to have your pet checked by an expert as soon as possible.
Like humans, cats can go into a state of shock when there is a lack of oxygen to the brain. Shock can be the result of an injury, another traumatic event, or even an allergic reaction.
Most pet experts recommend covering the cat with a blanket and staying calm to avoid worsening the situation.
Regardless of the cause, these cats typically need to be examined by a professional to ensure there are no long term effects.
Cats experience seizures for a myriad of reasons, from the ingestion of toxins to medical conditions, such as liver disease or epilepsy.
Twitching, falling over, paddling, and uncontrollable shaking alongside loss of consciousness are telling signs that your feline is experiencing a seizure. A ‘partial’ seizure can occur, and these are generally more difficult to spot.
An isolated incident may not require treatment, but it’s a good idea to check with your veterinarian to ensure there are no underlying health problems, especially if there’s any chance at all that your cat got hold of a poison.
Although the above-mentioned medical conditions commonly cause shaking in cats, your pet’s trembling could be a sign that he’s in pain.
Cats experiencing discomfort often exhibit other symptoms alongside it, such as agitation, withdrawal, and decreased eating and drinking.
Mental Health Conditions that Make Cats Shake
We don’t often think of cats suffering from mental health conditions, but in actuality, they do. Behavioral problems could indicate that your pet is experiencing one or more of the following:
According to an article published by PetPlace, cats can develop a whole host of mental health conditions, including:
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Cognitive dysfunction
- Anxiety disorders
In some cases, medications are used to relieve symptoms. It’s a good idea to check with your veterinarian if you’ve noticed a change in your pet’s behavior.
Other Reasons Cats Shake
Shaking in cats can’t always be linked to a physical or mental health condition. Many times, cats tremble due to their current state or environmental factors. These can include:
If your cat twitches or trembles in his sleep, chances are, he’s dreaming. According to Purina, twitching occurs during REM sleep, along with stretching and snoring.
It can be concerning to see a cat moving involuntarily in his sleep, but rest assured that he’s likely enjoying his time in dreamland.
If you aren’t sure and you’re worried, call his name. If he responds, he’s probably fine – but he might not appreciate you interrupting a good dream!
Shivering and/or shaking could simply be a sign that your pet is in need of warmth. Cats often look for warm places to snuggle up, especially in colder climates.
If your cat gets cold easily, a radiator bed will be a welcome treat.
Some pet parents even splurge on heated blankets for chilly kitties. Adjusting the thermostat in your home can also ensure your feline stays warm and cozy.
Shaking in Older Cats
Because cats are more susceptible to health problems as they age, the likelihood of shaking increases.
Chronic diseases are more prevalent in older felines, along with dehydration, lack of appetite, and impaired kidney function. These age-related health issues can all cause shaking in senior cats.
You can help keep your older cat healthy and happy by feeding him a nutritious diet, reducing any potential stressors, visiting a veterinarian regularly, and addressing all symptoms and health problems.
When to Visit the Vet
As previously mentioned, shaking in cats has many potential causes, so determining an underlying cause can be difficult.
If you notice your cat shaking, we recommend making an appointment with your veterinarian to get to the root of the problem.
The internet is chockful of recommendations for calming shaking cats, but we suggest consulting with your pet’s veterinarian to find a remedy that is appropriate for your cat.
Avoid attempting to diagnose and treat your pet at home, as a cat with kidney disease will require different treatment than a cat who is simply cold.
A Note to Cat Parents
We understand that it can be incredibly scary and stressful to witness your cat shaking or shivering for no apparent reason.
Keep calm, and schedule an appointment with your pet’s vet to calm your nerves—along with your cat’s quivers.
Despite their mysterious nature and reputation for stubbornness, we can’t help but adore cats. We just wish they could tell us when something’s wrong. But even if they could, we’re not sure they would.
As Nan Porter once said, “If cats could talk, they wouldn’t.” We couldn’t agree more!