Head Bobbing in Cats

Head bobbing can be caused by something as simple as ear mites.
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If your kitty starts bobbing her head, she hasn't suddenly become agreeable. Head bobbing in cats occurs for many reasons, some known, some unknown, some simple and others more serious. If your cat starts nodding her head chronically, have the vet check her out to determine and treat the cause.

Ear Problems

When your cat starts bobbing and shaking her head, it could be caused by something as simple as ear mites or fleas. The nasty little critters can infest your cat's ears, causing itching, discomfort and possible infection. If there is no chance of a pest problem, other ear issues like an ear infection or disease may be the culprit. Your cat's balance can be thrown off if there is a problem with her inner ear, in which case her head bobbing will be accompanied by other symptoms like vomiting and leaning toward the side that is experiencing the problem.


Your cat's genetic history can play a part if she develops head tremors. Purebred gene pools often aren't diverse enough to keep cats healthy. A prime example is a hereditary disease that shows up in Burmese cats, causing weakness in the neck muscles, which in turn causes head bobbing.

Drug Reactions

Reactions to drugs or overdosing can sometimes cause not only head bobbing in cats but full-on seizures as well. Your individual cat might have a bad reaction to a typically cat-approved drug, but serious symptoms are likely to occur if you give your cat a medication that isn't approved for treating felines. Pseudophedrine and ephedrine, for instance, are over-the-counter drugs that you probably have in your medicine chest, but don't be tempted to give them to your kitty for the sniffles. Any dose of pseudophedrine is an overdose to a cat and will not only cause her head to bob but can speed up her heartbeat, send her blood pressure soaring and cause vomiting. Drug reactions and overdoses are serious and can result in death, so never delay taking your kitty to the clinic straightaway in such cases.

Brain Issues

Head bobbing in cats can result from brain problems—and the causes vary. If your cat was hit by a car or fell and hit her head, for example, she could have brain trauma that might include head bobbing as a symptom. Infections in the brain can be indicated by signs like head nodding, as can abnormal or underdeveloped brain tissue. If the problem is with how the brain developed, your cat won't suddenly manifest a head-bobbing problem. She will have displayed the symptom from as early as 6 weeks. A birth defect in the brain can be caused by an infection, malnutrition or toxins, contracted or encountered while Mama Cat was pregnant. Kittens born with such brain issues can live as long as any cat, but will need extra care and attention, as they are typically developmentally disabled.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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