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Dr.Fiona, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 6273
Experience:  16 years experience as a companion animal veterinarian in British Columbia, California and Ontario
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Hi, My cats head is trembling involuntarily. Whats

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My cat just had this strange episode where just her head just began to tremble involuntarily and uncontrollably with jerk-like movements. Even when she put down her head to sleep, her head was still twitching. I have notice this in the past. But as soon as I noticed it, the involuntary twitching would stop. What scared me is that this twitching ocurred for several minutes tonight. Even as I tried to pet her and soothe her, the twitching continued. Her diet has remained the same. Nothing out of the ordinary. There has been no change in her bm''s either. She is strictly an indoor cat--always has been. She is almost 11 yrs. old. I have no other pets. I''m concerned. What could be causing this? Any information would be appreciated. Thank you!

Hey Laura,

I can imagine that this must be very distressing to you and the cat. I would like to help but need a bit more information, please.

1. How is she now?

2. When it was happening, did your cat seem aware of her surroundings? Could she focus on you, or did she seem to be disoriented and unaware?

3. Did she urinate or defecate during the episode?

4. Was her mouth making chewing or chomping motions during the episode?

5. In the last 6 months or so, any changes in appetite, energy or water consumption?

6. Any changes in her weight?

7. Any changes in her voice in the last 6 months or so?

8. Last but not least, what is her name?


Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Reply to Dr.Fiona's Post: Hello Fiona,

Thank you for responding so quickly. Nena (my cat) is fine now. The twitching occured for several minutes late last night, but then it stopped all of a sudden. This morning she was playing and following me around so that I would fill her bowl to the top like she likes it! At one point this morning, she was sitting still and her head did twitch once, but then it stopped. During the "episode" last night, she was lying next to me and I began to scratch her head and behind her ears to see if it would calm her. She responded to the petting, so I believe she was aware of her surroundings, but it is hard to tell. Even with all of the petting, the twitching did not stop. In regards XXXXX XXXXX other symptoms that you mentioned above, she doesn't and didn't have any of them. She weighs between 12-14 pounds. No changes in weight. The only other change that I have noticed in the last few months is she has begun to lightly snore and make soft sounds while she is sleeping--like she is having nightmares. I know that I didn't provide you anything helpful, but other than these random episodes, she has been perfectly healthy. Last night was scary because it was a prolonged occurence. Thank you!

Hi Laura,

Hmmm... that is odd. There are a few things that come to mind: One, these could be "petit mal" seizures, two, they could be evidence of hyperthryoidism, or three, they could be due to an electrolyte imbalance (such as low potassium, which can happen with kidney problems) .

1. With seizure disorders, animals can either have "grand mal" seizures where the whole body is involved, or they can have petit- mal seizures where just the head is involved. Regardless of which type they have, seizures usually last a few seconds to a few minutes. There is often a very brief phase before-hand (seconds to minutes) where they seem disoriented, and a longer phase afterward (5 to 60 minutes) where they seem disoriented. In a cat Nena's age, seizures could be brought on by an inflammation in the brain, by epilepsy, by low blood sugar or by a tumor in the brain.

Here is more information

2. With hyperthryroidism, the thyroid gland produces too much of a hormone called T4 that controls metabolic rate. Being hyperthryroid is like being me on 8 cups of coffee - jittery, restless, very active. Usually there is weight loss. However, if Nena were in the very early stages, she could just have small "thryoid storms" with muscle fasciculations.

More information is here:

3. It's possible that Nena has low potassium levels which can happen with kidney disorders. Again, they usually show weight loss before they get to a point where they would have low potassium, but every cat is different.

Here is more information:

So, there are a number of possibilities for what might be going on. If Nena came in to see me, I would do a complete physical exam incuding a neurological exam. I would also recommend blood and urine analysis to check her thryoid and kidney function.

One thing which would be tremendously helpful to your vet would be if you could videotape the episode (on a cell phone perhaps as that might be closeby). Does it look anything like this?

This video always disturbs me because THIS is what a cat looks like when it seizures.

BotXXXXX XXXXXne, Nena does need to be seen by her vet to get to the bottom of this. If this has been helpful, please hit the green "Accept" button. I will still be here to provide more information if you need it.

And I LOVE to get updates down the road on how pets I "meet" on here are doing!


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