Cats have many strange behaviors, like the peculiar chattering sound they make when seeing a bird or a laser pen. But when we see their muscles twitch involuntarily, it’s natural to be concerned and look for the underlying reasons for this phenomenon. We’ve consulted the experts to gather as many explanations for this behavior as we could, and we are going to list them for you here. We’ll also teach you what to look for so you know when it’s time to take your pet to the vet.
Why Is My Cat Twitching?
Involuntary muscle movements in cats are classified according to their causes. We will review some of the most common causes.
1. Your Cat Is Dreaming
One of the most common reasons a cat might have uncontrollable muscle movements is sleeping and dreaming. Much like people, your cat can have dreams that cause it to act strange when it’s asleep, so it wouldn’t be uncommon to see uncontrollable muscle movements or vocalizations.
Hyperesthesia is a condition that causes the cat’s backsicat’s become extremely sensitive. It causes the cat to have sudden episodes where it can suddenly become quite vocal and start running around the house. You will also see a twitching of the skin on the back that resembles rolling. Your cat may even begin to scratch or lick the area intensely, resulting in hair loss.
3. Nutritional Deficiencies
Several nutritional deficiencies can cause involuntary muscle movements in your cat. Vitamins, particularly vitamin B1 or thiamine, are of great importance as cats require up to three times the amount of B1 than dogs. It is important to make sure this nutrient is present at an adequate level in your cat’s diet. Cats fed mostly on a raw fish diet need additional supplementation of B1 as the fish contains an enzyme called thiaminase that can break down the B1.
Minerals such as calcium play an important role in the fluid concentration of the cells and the regulation of muscle contraction. Cats with calcium deficiencies have seizures. Feeding a good quality diet with adequate levels of calcium and a good multivitamin with minerals can help reduce any chances of nutritional deficiencies. However, hypocalcemia is usually secondary to other diseases, such as kidney disease or parathyroid disease.
4. Low Blood Sugar
If your cat has low blood sugar or hypoglycemia, it can experience involuntary muscle twitching.
5. Toxicity or Poisoning
Your pet may have ingested something that is affecting its system and causing its muscles to twitch. Several toxins can lead to muscle twitches, as can several medications that your cat may be taking.
6. Nervous System Disorder
A nervous system disorder like epilepsy is a common cause of involuntary muscle movement in cats. No one is sure what causes epilepsy in cats, but many believe it to be genetic. Your cat may act strange and seek attention or hide before an episode, and it can take your cat up to 24 hours to recover.
7. Kidney Failure
Kidney failure causes electrolyte imbalances and can make your cat’s muscles contract uncontrollably. Several factors can cause kidney failure, including bacterial infections, blockage of urinary flow due to urinary stones or masses, cancer, genetics, fungal infections, and more.
Rabies is the most serious cause of muscle twitching on our list. It is a viral infection that is zoonotic, which means humans and any other mammal can contract it as well if bitten by an infected animal. Rabies attacks the nervous system and causes muscle twitches and extreme changes in behavior and aggression. Vaccinations are the best way to prevent it, and every cat and dog must be vaccinated against rabies.
9. Injury and Trauma
Injury and trauma are common causes of muscle twitching in cats. As the muscles heal, they can twitch, and if there is a broken bone, you may also notice twitching.
10. Itchy Skin
Another common reason for twitching in a cat is itchy and irritated skin. The skin can get irritated when the cat has fleas or mites. The cat will continuously scratch, and it may use the muscles under its back to move the skin in a twitching motion to be more comfortable.
Fasciculation is the medical term for involuntary muscle spasms. It can occur rapidly and resemble a seizure, or it can be more subdued and better described as a twitch. It can be local to one part of the body or more general. Benign fasciculations can be caused by exercise or stress. However, toxic substances, neurological disorders, and metabolic disorders such as hypercalcemia can cause fasciculations.
The most common cause of involuntary muscle twitching that we experienced after owning several cats was dreaming. Our cats will twitch their paws and eyes while sleeping, often accompanied by chatting noises. This action usually comes after an exciting day when the cat has seen a bird or squirrel in the yard. We’ve also seen a few cats with hyperesthesia. While it did not cause them to chew off their fur, we would see their skin twitching occasionally, and they would suddenly run around the house, making loud vocal noises.
We hope you have enjoyed reading and feel like you have found the cause of one of your cat’s strangcat’saviors.
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Featured Image: fotovictoria, Shutterstock