As your cat ages, you may start to notice some changes in their behavior and health.
One common issue that may arise is involuntary muscle trembling, known as fasciculation or twitching.
As cat owners, we understandably worry when we see our cats shaking unpredictably, but there are many possible reasons why it happens in elderly cats.
Here are some of the things that cause cat twitching and what to do when it occurs:
1. Involuntary Muscle Trembling
Fasciculation, or muscle twitching, is a common symptom in elderly cats.
It can be caused by a variety of factors, including neurological disorders, metabolic imbalances, and medications.
If your cat is exhibiting signs of fasciculation, you should take them to the vet to determine the underlying cause.
Cats can be exposed to a variety of toxins in everyday life, such as household cleaners, plants, and medicines.
If your cat has ingested something harmful, it could cause twitching or shaking.
Symptoms may vary depending on the type of toxin, so it’s important to consult with a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Here is a video of a cat experiencing tremors due to ingesting flea products or insecticides:
3. Metabolic Derangements
Issues with metabolism can lead to a range of health problems in cats. For example, a problem with their thyroid or kidneys could cause twitching or shaking.
If you notice any changes in your cat’s behavior or health, it’s always best to bring them to the vet for a check-up.
4. Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome (FHS)
FHS, or “twitchy cat disease,” is a complex condition that can cause a range of symptoms, including twitching.
It’s thought to be caused by a variety of factors, like psychological issues or food sensitivities.
If your cat is diagnosed with FHS, your vet may recommend a combination of medication, dietary changes, and environmental modifications.
5. Aging-Related Behavioral Changes
As cats age, they may start showing behavioral changes, including excessive meowing, disorientation, avoidance of social interaction, and twitching.
While twitching alone is not necessarily a cause for concern, you should monitor your cat’s overall health and bring them to the vet if you notice any significant changes.
Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is a common issue in older cats. It can lead to twitching, shaking, and other symptoms.
Signs of hypoglycemia in cats can include weakness, lethargy, stumbling, and seizures.
If you suspect your cat is suffering from hypoglycemia, the best course of action is to bring them to the vet for a blood glucose test.
Seizures can cause a range of symptoms, including shaking, loss of consciousness, twitching, or even urination.
They can be alarming to watch but are treatable with the right care.
If your cat has seizures, you should consult with a veterinarian to determine the underlying cause and develop a treatment plan.
8. Psychological Causes
Cats can suffer from stress and anxiety, just like people. These emotional states can lead to physical symptoms like twitching.
If you suspect your cat is experiencing a psychological issue, the best thing you can do is to provide a calm and quiet environment and consult with your veterinarian.
9. Nutritional Imbalances
A nutritional deficiency can also cause twitching and shaking in cats.
For example, a lack of certain vitamins or minerals could lead to muscle tremors.
If you suspect your cat is not getting the right nutrients, speak to your veterinarian about dietary changes.
10. Neurological Disorders
Some neurological disorders can cause twitching in cats.
Conditions like spinal cord injuries, brain tumors, and encephalitis can cause a wide range of symptoms, including involuntary muscle movements.
If you suspect your cat has a neurological issue, consult with a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Elderly cat twitching her head
If your older cat keeps twitching her head, pay attention and take this seriously. This is not normal behavior, and you should contact your vet as soon as you can.
There can be different reasons for it, and it’s important to figure out why and take action quickly.
Dehydration can cause twitching
Dehydration can cause cats to twitch their heads.
Older cats, usually around eight years old, are more likely to get sick with diseases like diabetes, kidney disease, or hyperthyroidism.
These diseases can cause vomiting, diarrhea, drinking a lot of water or peeing a lot, feeling weak, and losing weight. They can also change how they act.
These diseases can cause your cats to vomit, have diarrhea, drink a lot of water, pee more often than usual, feel weak and tired, lose weight, and act differently.
In diabetic cats, fluctuations in blood glucose levels can lead to tremors or twitching. It’s crucial to monitor their blood sugar levels and ensure they receive appropriate treatment.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that head tremors can also be a result of more severe conditions, such as a brain tumor. In some cases, these tremors can progress to seizures.
Even if your cat is not displaying other abnormal behaviors, it’s advisable to consider a visit to the veterinarian. I personally would not take something like this lightly with any of my cats.
Your Vet can address your cat’s head-twitching issue
A thorough examination, along with blood and urine tests, can help rule out underlying illnesses and determine the cause of the head tremor.
X-rays may also be necessary to get a better understanding of the cat’s condition.
Early detection and treatment are crucial for older cats to prevent the development of severe illness.
Your veterinarian is the best person to properly diagnose and recommend an appropriate course of action. It’s always better to be safe and have your cat checked out to ensure their well-being.
When Should You Be Concerned About Twitching in Your Elderly Cat?
While not all twitching suggests a severe illness, some can indicate a more significant underlying issue.
I personally would say to you that determining whether a cat’s twitching is normal or not is not our responsibility as pet parents.
Our responsibility is to act in the best interest of our cats when something happens to them, and we do not have the answers to help them.
If you notice your cat showing signs of lethargy, vomiting, or abnormal twitching that goes on for extended periods, or any twitching for that matter, this is a cause for concern.
I was recently alarmed to find out that a thyroid condition caused my aunt’s elderly cat’s twitching, and medication was needed to help regulate it.
If you’re dealing with any cat-twitching situation and wondering how you can help your cat, going to your veterinarian is the best way to do so.
How do I know if my elderly cat is suffering?
To get an idea if your elderly cat is suffering, look out for changes in their behavior.
- Are they eating less?
- Not as playful or active?
- Maybe they’re sleeping more than usual?
- Or you’ve noticed weight loss?
These could be signs your elderly kitty might be suffering, but a vet is always the best person to confirm this.
If you’re asking yourself whether or not your older cat is suffering, I think you definitely need to have a chat with your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Why is my 17-year-old cat shaking?
Generally speaking, cats over eight years of age may be more susceptible to certain illnesses that can cause shaking.
If your 17-year-old cat is shaking, it’s important you take them to a vet for a physical examination and any necessary tests so the vet can determine the cause.
My cat is eight years old, and if she started shaking, I would be very worried.
So your cat being 17 years old, whenever you notice any issue with your cat that makes you concerned, you should take them to the vet right away, especially in their later years.
Seeking Veterinary Advice
It’s crucial to seek vet advice regarding your elderly cat’s health. As cats age, they are susceptible to cognitive and functional decline, which may not be noticeable initially.
Regular vet check-ups are crucial for your elderly cat’s overall health and well-being. If you suspect your cat is twitching, you should seek veterinary advice immediately.
Your veterinarian will conduct a physical examination, review your cat’s medical history, and perform any necessary tests to diagnose the problem.
Nothing replaces regular vet check-ups, especially for our older kitties. Our vets are our partners in ensuring our cats live their best nine lives.
They’re the experts who can guide us if twitching is a symptom of something more serious. I have countless stories of vet visits with Cleo, and they’ve always steered us right.