Getting at the Reason For Your Cat’s Twitching

It could be nothing. It could be something. How to tell.


Does your cat twitch here and there? If he has been doing it his whole life but has always checked out fine on his wellness visits, chances are you don’t have anything to worry about. A cat’s muscles may twitch in response to something he finds irritating or that arouses him emotionally, and that’s perfectly normal. A cat may also twitch while having intense dreams during the REM cycle of sleep. But if the twitching seems new — or has become more frequent or vigorous — there may be a medical reason.

Unfortunately, twitching is a nonspecific symptom, so the problem, if there is one, could potentially be any of the following:

  • Hearing loss
  • High thyroid levels
  • Abnormal levels of blood glucose (sugar), calcium, or potassium
  • High blood pressure
  • A neurologic disorder
  • A dermatologic problem, perhaps caused by an allergy, that makes the skin feel irritating
  • Hyperesthesia (twitch-skin) syndrome — hypersensitivity of the muscles and skin in the rump. It  could be a sign of stress and is often accompanied by self-biting and over-grooming.

Twitching can also signal newly developed fear or alarm.

If the twitching has caught your attention in a way it previously did not, talk with your veterinarian about the advisability of testing that goes beyond the screening of a regular checkup. Along with basic blood work and a blood pressure check (which may not occur frequently enough during wellness visits), consider evaluation for a neurologic problem. Calcium and potassium are involved in the proper functioning of nerve signals, and an imbalance in the blood levels of either of those minerals might be a sign of a neurologic issue.


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