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Head Tremors in Cerebellar Hypoplasia Cats

In addition to the wobbles, another common symptom of cerebellar hypoplasia is temporary head tremors, or the uncontrollable shaking of a cat’s head (like a bobble-head doll). Also called cerebellar or intention tremors, they are an additional result of damage to the cerebellum.

The tremors, which range in severity, usually occur when the cat is trying to focus on something. They may also be brought on by stress, fear or fatigue, but the tremor usually passes in a few moments. While experiencing a tremor, your kitty may miss her target or fall over, but it otherwise shouldn’t hurt her.

Another interesting fact: The tremors are usually perpendicular to the direction of movement — so if your kitty is focusing on something straight ahead, her head will most likely wobble from side to side.

Here’s an example of CG’s tremors when he was 2 months old:

Fortunately, as CG has grown up, his head tremors have improved. He’ll still get them on occassion, but I don’t feel like they’re as severe since he’s older and larger now.

Here’s a video of Ellie’s head tremors:

One thing to watch for is what happens after the head tremor. Sometimes CG will lose his balance after a head tremor, fall over and knock his chin on the floor. I don’t think it’s ever hurt him too badly, but I do suspect a head tremor-induced chin bump to have caused a chipped tooth.

Please note that CH cats are born with head tremors; they do not develop later on in life. If your cat has developed head tremors, please visit your vet. 

How are your cat’s head tremors? Have they improved as your cat has improved?

37 Comments leave one →
  1. Jacquie B permalink
    September 30, 2011 4:51 am

    Now that you have pointed this out and educated me about it I will watch more intentionally. My CH kitty, Percy went to the vet for the first time a few days ago and I noticed his tremors while we were waiting to see the vet. He had never been away from home except once on a camping trip with me. Thanks for the info. I am concerned about my little guy. He has pooping problems and I cannot seem to stop it. I love my little guy, Percy. I’ll do whatever I can to make his life good. He has severe symptoms. He flops. Hwe cannot walk at all.

    • October 1, 2011 9:44 am

      Hi Jacquie,
      Thanks for commenting! Percy sounds like a special cat! What sort of pooping problems does he have? Can he not make it to the litter box in time, or is it something else? Have you tried using diapers on him? That may be an option, granted a big commitment too!
      Good luck, please keep in touch and thanks for reading!
      Amanda

    • JacquieB permalink
      November 1, 2011 2:04 am

      Thankfully, Percy’s pooping problems have improved greatly. The vet explained to me that worms can be a constant problem if the pet has fleas, and in our area fleas are TERRIBLE in the summer. Percy had a bad bout of worms when he was a kitten; his mom is feral. Our vet took care of the worms, gave me a great deal on Advantage, and suggested a better food for Percy, even though it is $$expensive$$ (he is doing well on the Blue Buffalo kibble). Percy is worth the extra expense. Consequently his BMs are well formed and he is able to keep himself clean as he struggles clumsily to get his ‘business’ covered up and get himself back out of the box. Now that he is a young adult he ALWAYS gets IN the litter box for his BMs. I am very proud of him! He still likes to use newspaper/peepee pads for his other duty. Anyway, I am glad to report Percy is doing very well, and he is a little superstar to us.
      Natalia, it sounds like you use the same type of set-up that we use: a litter box with pads around it. I also cover the pads with newspaper because it allows us to use less pads overall, and saves money. Also, Percy MUST scratch up the papers to try and cover his business. Lord only knows what my friends and other visitors must think when they see a 5′ X 5′ kitty potty area in the corner of the family room! But my critters are #1 priority at my house! Good luck with Lulu!

  2. Natalia permalink
    October 8, 2011 8:58 am

    My Lulu has head tremors! She also cannot make it to the litter box in time though. Why is this? I always keep a pee pad (like the ones dogs use) on the outside of her litter box and sometimes she misses it too. She is the sweetest kitty in the world and I would never give up on her! ~Natalia

  3. Silver Blaze permalink
    May 27, 2012 1:34 am

    We have an orphaned kitten that we’re hand-raising, and I stumbled across your blog trying to figure out what she’s doing. She’s now 3 weeks old, and when she focuses on something (movement, noise, lighting), her entire head trembles and shivers really bad. It’s sporadic, and only when something’s caught her attention. It’s more severe than your video, but I’m hoping maybe it’ll slow/calm down as she gets older?

    Anyway, thanks for the video, it really helps to compare and see what’s most likely! ^_^

    • May 27, 2012 8:43 am

      They very well may. In my experience all of my CH cats’ symptoms have slowly lessened in severity. Sometimes they’re so bad that they lose balance and hit their chins on the floor, but thats only occasionally. Thanks for reading, good luck and please let me know if you have any more questions, etc :)

  4. annie permalink
    October 15, 2012 12:49 am

    Cute!!! My boy has them bad. Not so much his sister. When he gets overly excited, I just say in a calm voice ” focus” and he instantly stops. Pretty cool.

  5. November 12, 2012 1:35 pm

    Kenny’s head tremors are pretty bad, and more or less constant when he’s concentrating on doing anything from eating, to tracking a toy, to pooping. I hope they improve with age! He’s only 3 1/2 months!

  6. Alice Davis permalink
    November 28, 2012 3:38 pm

    Our 12 year old cat, Bit, was rescued as a tiny kitten in our front yard. She almost died but survived. She shakes her head from time to time for a few seconds. Last week she did that and sneezed and blood came from her nose. She did not seem in pain. She only did it once. What caused the bleeding?

    • November 28, 2012 3:41 pm

      Hi Alice,
      This sounds like a great question for your vet. Head tremors in cerebellar hypoplasia cats shouldn’t cause anything like that, so perhaps she simply had a bloody nose, or maybe it’s something else. Have you had a chance to consult your vet?
      Best,
      Amanda

  7. Mindi permalink
    January 7, 2013 7:09 pm

    I have been caring for some kittens I rescued, and I just recently noticed one of the kitten’s head tremors when he stops to focus on something. It sounds like this (CH) could be the problem, but it looks a little different than some of the videos I have seen…his head shakes slowly and he doesn’t seem to have any walking issues or anything like that… do you still think this could be the problem? I hope so because I’d hate for it to be anything worse…

    • January 8, 2013 7:24 am

      Hi Mindi,
      Thanks for caring for these little ones! Unfortunately, there’s no way to determine if it’s CH or something else until you can take him into a vet. If you have a smartphone or camera, perhaps you can take video of his head shaking to show the vet (just in case he doesn’t do it when you bring him in).
      Good luck!

  8. shay permalink
    January 27, 2013 1:42 am

    Hey, my cat bea is just over 2 years old, and in the past couple days I’ve noticed her balance is off and she prefers sleeping all the time. And just today i saw her head was shaking. Because she is just starting now could it be something else or what… I’ve never had a cat do this before and im worried.

    • January 27, 2013 8:34 am

      Hi,
      Since these symptoms came on rapidly, I suggest that you take your cat to the vet right away so he can take a look at him and figure out what’s going on. Try to take specific notes or videos – they may help your vet. Good luck!

  9. Kathryn Brighton permalink
    March 15, 2013 12:57 pm

    I woke up first thing this morning and noticed my cat having one of these head tremmers for the first time I’ve seen was rather freaked out i don’t know if my cat has ch but she’s 3 years old and this is the first time I’ve noticed her do this

    • March 15, 2013 1:49 pm

      Hi Kathryn,
      If you haven’t already, I’d suggest calling or visiting your vet to find out if there’s anything going on with your cat. Cats are born with cerebellar hypoplasia, so it’s likely your cat doesn’t have it, especially since you haven’t noticed the tremors before. It may be nothing, but then again, it may be something. It’s better to check it out just in case.
      Good luck!
      -Amanda

  10. shannon permalink
    May 17, 2013 7:11 pm

    hi,
    My cat is fifteen yrs old, and he has head tremors EXACTLY like the kittens in the videos a few times per week for about a year now. could he have cerebellar hypoplasia? He didn’t have the problem before. Also, he is overweight, and sprays A LOT (for the past few years). He’s fixed and an indoor cat with no other animals. In addition, he gets aggresive sometimes with me and my husband. He violently attacks our feet and sometimes our hands (not playful but violent and angry and we were just sitting there or standing up). I would like help find a diagnosis. The vet just said she didn’t know and that if it’s a tumor or something they can’t do anything.

    • May 17, 2013 8:55 pm

      Hi Shannon,
      I’d suggest getting a second opinion about the head tremors if you’re concerned. If they were related to cerebellar hypoplasia, he would have had them since birth, so there may be something else going on. As for your other concerns, a trusted vet should be able to help you in those areas too. Good luck!

  11. shannon permalink
    May 17, 2013 9:26 pm

    Thank you for the reply. I’ve been searching for answers online and by talking to others, but no one had seen a cat do that before. While he didn’t have the tremors until a year ago, it does bobble like the cats heads in some of the videos. I’m going to have him checked out by another vet soon.

  12. Amy Adams permalink
    August 14, 2013 7:29 am

    feral cat had kittens on our porch…I finally got to hold them and one has a very bad head tremor…I would like to post the video…and get some feedback about this if possiblea

  13. August 23, 2013 7:56 pm

    I just recently adopted a three-month old male Russian Blue, whom I renamed Etienne (they were mean and named him Weebles) from Petsmart and their Vet diagnosed him as having CH (It appears to be a moderate case). He has some serious troubles walking and when he gets excited, aggravated/agitated/frustrated, etc. he tends to have some head tremors (at some points since his adoption I almost thought he was having a seizure the tremors were so bad).
    He’s the sweetest little guy, but some of his hyperactive antics almost cause me to have a heart attack (such as when he plays near the stairs — he’s already fallen down them twice and nearly gave me a coronary each time its happened even if he doesn’t seem to take notice of it at all)

    • August 26, 2013 9:03 pm

      Hi to you and Etienne!
      I think sometimes WE have a bigger learning curve when it comes to being comfortable with their CH — that said, falling down stairs is NO fun! Perhaps you can look into getting a baby gate to put at the top of the stairs? My husband and I got one since our little girl tumbles a lot, too.
      Good luck! Can’t wait to hear more about Etienne!

  14. Rosa permalink
    August 27, 2013 11:38 pm

    Hello all,

    I was reading the posts because something similar is happening to my one-year old cat. She has been experiencing head tremors lately. The tremors last a few seconds, sometimes maybe about a minute or so. At the same time, I notice other symptoms, such as watery eyes, itchy skin (excessive grooming), and one time, a swollen nose. Does anyone have any idea what this could be?

    I thought it may be allergies, so I give her allergy medicine prescribed by her vet. It seems to help reduce the symptoms; however, I haven’t heard of a cat experiencing head tremors as a symptom of allergies. The head tremors worry me.

    Rosa

    • August 28, 2013 6:06 am

      Hi Rosa-
      Thank you for commenting. I’m sorry to hear about your cat’s condition. Perhaps consider getting a second opinion from another vet? Good luck!

  15. catgirl624 permalink
    August 29, 2013 11:17 pm

    My cat just started doing the head tremors tonight when she was trying to itch her ear. She has always had allergies that affect her ears though.

    From reading more about CH it sounds a lot like Tiffany. I always thought she had balance issues because she is cross eyed. Sometimes she does some very weird things, so this makes a lot of sense. My boyfriend calls her Jack Sparrow and says she “has the moves like Jagger.”

    • August 30, 2013 5:52 am

      Hi-
      Thanks for commenting! I wanted to send a quick note just in case – head tremors are noticeable in a CH cat starting at birth; they don’t come on later in life. If they continue, please visit your vet. There are a number of conditions that can mimic CH, so you’ll want to be sure. Good luck!

    • Rosa permalink
      August 30, 2013 2:28 pm

      Hi,

      I just wanted to comment on catgirl624′s post. I think it’s possible that the head tremors are due to the allergies. I took my cat to the vet yesterday, and she confirmed that this may be the case. My cat has always had allergies too. I haven’t always noticed the head tremors, only when the allergies are really bad and her ears get really itchy. If CH starts at birth, and this symptoms occurs later on, it is probably something else.

      Thanks, Amanda for allowing us to share our cat experiences. :)

      Rosa

  16. Sarah permalink
    September 2, 2013 6:56 pm

    So my cat is about 8 years old now and ever since she was a kitten, her back left leg would shake but has gotten better through the years. Today she was, I think, trying to see how far the counter was from the chair she was on, and her head started to shake like the kitten in the video. Is it possible that she has CH and she just had leg tremors instead of head tremors until now? Thank you.

    • September 2, 2013 8:13 pm

      Hi Sarah,
      Thanks for your comment. A CH cat’s head tremors are noticeable at birth and are due to a neurological issue. Since your cat just recently exhibited tremors, I suggest you speak to your vet soon. It would be wise to document when/where/how long they take place too, as well as mention the leg tremor to find out what’s going on. Good luck!

  17. Bob F. permalink
    September 4, 2013 11:35 pm

    I just adopted an orange tabby CH kitten…and she’s wonderful. She bobbles and wobbles but is so loving. Her so-called “disability” makes her cuter and more adorable than ever. I’m now doing research, as a good dad would do, to learn everything I can about how to make Bobby’s life the best possible.

    • Tar permalink
      January 21, 2014 11:14 pm

      That’s wonderful! I hope she is doing well :)

  18. Stacey permalink
    November 20, 2013 8:35 pm

    Hi I am thinking about getting a CH kitty. She is just 3 months old. She is so beautiful and she has touched my heart. One thing is I notice that other people are making comments that their Ch cats miss the litter box and mess beside it. Is this a frequent thing that I should except for the life of the cat?

    • November 22, 2013 7:41 am

      Hi Stacey,
      Thanks for commenting, and I hope things work out with the CH cat! Some CH cats do have accidents because of their CH. Sometimes getting the right litter box can help. Some other times, there could be something else going on (like with other cats). You can find out more about litter box use and tips here: http://lifewithchcats.com/ch-topics-tips/litter-box/

  19. melissa permalink
    December 4, 2013 6:09 pm

    so my kitten is 8 wks old and he sleeps an awful lot and he’s very unstable when he walks and sometimes just falls over and it seems like his legs are limp when i pick him up, a lot of what im reading sounds like he may have chm but from what you know is it normal for them to sleep so much and hes also so much smaller and less active then his siblings

    • December 5, 2013 6:57 am

      Melissa,
      Please take your kitten to the vet. He may have CH, but there’s no way to tell unless a vet can check him out to see if it’s something else.

  20. Tar permalink
    January 21, 2014 11:12 pm

    My eldest cat, whom we recently put down due to terminal renal failure, had these tremors for a year on and off before she passed on. Now, my other cat has started them. I notice that they occur, as with the other cat, that if I pet her near the side of her head and chest that she would get them. It’s so strange. I will observe her more closely now that I know I’m not imagining it.

  21. Marta permalink
    February 12, 2014 1:12 pm

    Our one and a half year old cat, Lexi, has had head tremors since she was a tiny kitten. They are really the only sign of CH she has. As a kitten her coordination was a little off and her tremors were pretty regular, but as she’s gotten older the tremors only occur when she’s watching something intently. She has excellent balance now and has no problem standing on her hind legs. She does jump to high places gradually. For example: first to the window sill, then to the top of the kitty tower. Most people don’t notice anything unusual about her until they see the head tremors. She’s a marvelous girl and it is due to finding this site a year ago that we were able to conclude she likely is a CH cat.

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