My cat is trembling: What does that mean?

When cats tremble, both harmless reasons and health reasons are possible. The decisive factor is how often and in what situations the tremor occurs and whether there are other signs of a disease such as osteoarthritis. Do you occasionally notice that your house cat trembles? Or have you only noticed this behaviour recently? This article will help you to find out whether you should consult a vet.

Article from
Anita Bejarano-Gerke
Veterinary surgeon with Dr. SAM
Table of contents

What does it mean when your cat shakes?

Tremor is a rhythmically repeated contraction of opposing muscle groups. Depending on the cause, this can occur to varying degrees both at rest and during activity.


The cause of a tremor can be both physical and psychological. Physical tremors, in turn, are either physiological or pathological. Possible triggers are:

  • Excitement, tension
  • Dreaming
  • Stress, anxiety
  • Effort, weakness
  • Cold
  • Fever
  • Pain
  • Muscular weakness
  • Neurological disease
  • Marking behaviour

Unobjectionable reasons

Just like us humans, animals also tremble when they are positively or negatively excited. Tense trembling is especially typical for cats that are lurking for their prey (or toys). When marking with urine, cats tend to tremble with their tail and hind legs. Sleeping cats can twitch very vividly when dreaming. In this case, however, they do not tremble all the time, but only for a moment.

Reasons for concern

Even cats that are under great stress or anxiety tremble. This is normal in certain situations (for example, driving a car, being frightened by a dog or loud, unusual noises). However, fear should not become a permanent condition.

Weakness related tremor can occur in cats that have been hunted or have raved for a very long time. However, cats that tremble even at low physical activity levels may suffer from metabolic, heart or lung disease.

Muscle trembling in cold conditions is used to produce heat, i.e. it is a normal reaction of the body to low ambient temperatures. If the sensitivity to cold is excessive or increasing, there is usually an organic cause.

Pathological causes

In both humans and animals, the Fever lead to chills. We have written an article for you about this. Possible causes for fever are infectious diseases and inflammations. Shaking is also a reaction to chronic pain, for example from osteoarthritis. Sometimes the tremor is limited to one leg or the back of the body. Muscle weakness also causes tremor when the affected muscles are used. This can also be caused by arthrosis, which in the long term leads to atrophy (degeneration) of the musculature due to strain.

Ultimately, neurological diseases come into consideration: the signal transmission via the nerves and the stimulation of the muscle cells are disturbed. The causal damage can be in the brain or in the spinal column. An injury (lesion) to a single nerve is also possible, for example as a result of an accident(trauma) or inflammation.

Source: Alona Siniehina/

Symptoms and diagnosis

A tremor can have many causes. To find the cause more easily, you must observe your cat carefully. In particular, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • When did you first notice the tremor?
  • How often has it happened since then?
  • Does the tremor show up all over the body or only in certain areas?
  • Are there special triggers (for example temperature, posture, situation, mood)?
  • Are there any other symptoms of a disease (for example weight loss, lack of appetite, reduced activity, balance problems)?

In particular, the presence of other symptoms is often very revealing: in the case of osteoarthritis, for example, most animals avoid certain movement patterns and postures. Your Dr. SAM veterinary team will be happy to advise you.

Depending on the findings, further diagnostic steps are initiated, for example

  • X-ray
  • Neurological Investigation
  • Blood test
  • Ultrasound
  • Computed tomography(CT)
  • Magnetic resonance tomography(MRT)

During the neurological examination the veterinarian tests the different reflexes and the responsiveness of the patient. This allows the cause of the symptoms to be narrowed down to a specific area of the nervous system.

A blood test will show whether your cat's organs are working properly, whether there is any inflammation, muscle damage or infection, and whether there is a tumour.

With ultrasound, the heart and the abdominal organs can be examined in detail. This is useful, for example, if the veterinarian has noticed a heart murmur when listening in or if the blood results indicate a certain organ disease.

X-ray diagnostics is used primarily to assess the skeleton. In the process, injuries, degenerative processes such as arthrosis and other abnormalities of the bone system become visible.

Computer and magnetic resonance tomography enable three-dimensional imaging. They are mainly used when the results of an X-ray examination are not clear. This is particularly common when there is a suspicion of a disc or brain disease.

Therapy against tremor in the cat

The therapy always depends on the underlying cause. Possible drugs include:

  • Pain and anti-inflammatory substances for osteoarthritis
  • Heart medication
  • Antiepileptic drugs
  • Antibiotics

Natural therapy against stress

Of course, something must be done if your four-legged friend regularly trembles due to stress or anxiety. For this there is Relax Cat - a mixture of natural medicinal plants especially suitable for the following indications:

  • anxious and nervous cats
  • as well as older demented cats.

Through the special composition of proven medicinal plants, cats become less susceptible to stress and remain relaxed, so that a happy and relaxed coexistence is possible again. Order our medicinal plant mixture in our shop:

If you are unsure and would like to learn more about Dr. SAM - just click on the link and you will receive further insights into our work.

Best regards,
Anita Bejarano-Gerke
- Veterinarian with Dr. SAM

Table of contents
Article from
Anita Bejarano-Gerke
Veterinary surgeon with Dr. SAM

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