Why Do Cats Shake Their Heads After You Pet Them? (Interesting!)

Why do cats shake their heads after you pet them? Some cats just want to straighten their fur after being petted, that’s why they shake. Another reason is that cats are feeling slight discomfort after being petted. Overpetting your cat can even lead to overstimulation.

I know. It can be worrisome to see your cat shaking its head after you pet her.

Thus, understanding what that shaking means will help you respond to such a gesture.

Let’s get into it more!

Why does my cat shake her head when I pet her?

If your cat is shaking its head when you pet her, it may mean three things. These are:

Fur out of place

Your kitty gets bothered by having their fur out of place after you pet them. As a result, they’re like to shake to realign the hair after the petting.


Your kitty may still be adjusting to your scent, or they are not comfortable with how you pet them.


If you have petted your kitty too much, it may cause overstimulation.

If your cat is shaking its head, it may also mean she’s feeling itchy. Itchiness may be alright from time to time.

However, frequent shaking due to itchiness may be signs of ear mites, bacteria, or parasites.

The best thing you should do is to observe your cat. If the head shaking comes after your petting session, then you shouldn’t worry about it too much.

On the other hand, if you see your cat shaking its head regularly, it’s best to consult a vet for a checkup.

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Why do cats shake their heads when playing?

playing cat

Cats are playful creatures, and so it’s a normal thing for them to play. However, if they shake their heads when they are playing, it might mean that something is wrong.

When cats shake their heads, they may be experiencing:

Brain problem

If your kitty is shaking their heads, it may be experiencing a brain problem. A head shake is one of the common symptoms of head trauma in felines.

Although they can move from heights while avoiding injury, they are still prone to such incidents.

To be sure, it’s best to have your cat checked by a vet.

Drug reaction

A headshake may also be due to overdosage or allergic reaction. If you suspect your cat has inhaled something toxic or allergic to it, consult a vet for a checkup as well.

Ear Problems

Another reason for felines to shake their heads is due to their ears. If they are feeling discomfort in their ear, their reaction is to try and shake it.

You may check the ears yourself, but a vet consultation is probably for the best.

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Is it normal for cats to shake their heads?

As I said earlier, the head shake is a normal thing for felines. It’s their typical reaction to discomfort and itchiness they are feeling.

Further, it’s also a feline’s way of removing something stuck in their heads.

Since they go to different areas from time to time to play, it’s no wonder they get a lot of stuff in their heads.

Constant shaking from time to time is entirely normal. However, if your cat shakes its head too much and regularly, it can mean your pet is having problems.

Try to pay attention to the other behavior of your cat. If your pet has problems, that constant shaking may get accompanied by other symptoms.

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How can you tell if cats are in pain?

If your cat is in pain, it’s instinct is to try and hide it. As such, you may find it difficult to see that something is wrong unless the issue is already severe.

Still, there are ways to see if your cat is sick or in pain. These are:

  1. Constant hiding and aloofness
  2. Sitting still and often hunched up in a corner
  3. Loss of energy and interaction with you, and with others
  4. A sudden stop in their regular grooming, and focusing on one spot
  5. Excessive purring and meowing, accompanied by unusual vocals
  6. Restlessness and sudden aggression, even towards their friends

If you see such actions and behaviors, it’s better to consult a vet to know what is wrong.

As a general rule of thumb, you should tell your cat is acting differently from usual since it follows a routine.

Even though our pets try to hide their pain and discomfort, we can still tell if there’s something wrong.

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How should you pet your cat to not cause any pain to it?

If you’re causing pain to your cat when you pet it, it may mean you’re not massaging on the right spot.

Although every feline has a different favorite spot to pet, you can use some guidelines for your cat.

While it may be general in a sense, such parts will avoid a painful petting for your cat.

Most cats will enjoy petting around their facial glands. These parts include:

  • The base of their ears
  • Underneath their chin
  • Around their cheeks

They’ll likely prefer these areas compared to our usual petting spots for the like:

  • Their tummy
  • Their back
  • The base of their tail


There are a lot of reasons why cats shake their heads. The thing about this behavior is that it can say a lot of things.

Knowing and understanding such a gesture will help you know how to respond to your pet.

Don’t rush, though. Learning this matter requires a lot of time and experience.

Simply take it as a learning experience as you live with your cat.


Image credits – Photos by Kris Mikael Krister and Dimitri Houtteman on Unsplash

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