Tremors in cats will happen several times during your pets lifetime and it is a normal reaction to either fear or excitement. However, tremors and shaking that persists or suddenly develop for no apparent reason is anything but a normal reaction. Tremors or shaking can attack any part of your cats body and can have a multitude of causes ranging from genetic to something that is seriously wrong with the nervous system.
In some cases, when the tremors in your cat appears both rapidly and with severity, there is a very good chance that they have had a toxic reaction to something and need emergency medical care.
However, regardless of the actual underlying cause, tremors should always be treated very seriously if they persist for any duration of time.
Tremors in cats are an involuntary movement of the affected portion of the body that is almost rhythmic in nature and will continue to occur the entire time that your cat is awake. If it is truly tremors, they will stop when your cat goes to sleep. They can and do affect the muscles of any part of your pets body and are caused by the rapid alternating contraction and than the relaxation of the affected muscles.
It will in most all cases be a motion that seems to go back and forth in your cat and it the majority of cases it is an infectious disease in your pets nervous system that is the cause. These tremors or shaking in your cat can be very subtle or they can become almost violent in nature.
There are three basic types of tremors in cats: Tremors that affect the head, the rear limb or pelvic area, or generalized tremors that affect the entire body. When you start to see any type of irregular movements in any of the three areas of your cats body, they have developed tremors.
Tremors that affect your cats head can often be the result of an inherited condition but this condition is not related or specific to any particular breed. What is inherited is the underlying cause of the tremors. The most common causes of head tremors in your pet are from cerebellar abnormalities, which affect your cats brain. However, this condition can also cause the entire body to shake.
The cerebellum in your cat is part of their brain, and when there is an incomplete development of this part of the brain, it causes tremors. This lack of development can be inherited, or it can be the result of an infection, some type of toxic agents, or it can be a nutritional deficiency of either Thiamine or Vitamin E. It is most common in kittens but it can also affect mature cats and is most often the result of the panleukopenia virus.
This virus is passed down from the queen to her kittens where it attacks the fastest growing cells it can find, which are in a kittens developing cerebellum. The next possible cause is from a disease known as Encephalitis, which is an inflammation of your cats brain. This inflammation is a very serious threat to your cat and the tremors you are witnessing may soon be followed by seizures as the brain as well as the spinal column is infected.
The next potential cause that affects the brain is from a vestibular disease that affects your pets head relative to gravity. The vestibular system in your cat alerts your pets brain to all of its functions from standing, sitting, lying down, or falling down. When it is affected by a type of an infection, usually to the inner ear of your cat, the first symptoms you will see are tremors.
Tremors that affect the pelvic or rear limb areas of your pets body can be caused by a kidney that is starting to fail or low blood sugar counts. Diabetes mellitus is the most common hormonal condition that affects cats, especially older cats. It is a deficiency of the hormone insulin and restricts your pets ability to metabolize sugar properly.
The first symptom that you will see with this condition is a weakness or pain in the rear legs that will rapidly be followed by tremors. Tumors that cause an obstruction or a narrowing of your cats vertebra and place pressure on the spine will first appear as tremors before the rear limbs of your cat become severely impacted or damaged.
Tremors that affect your cats entire body at the same time are generally caused by a toxic reaction to something. There are several agents that are toxic in cats by the most common are flea and tick treatments for dogs, topical flea agents, any type of glow jewelry or sticks, and liquid potpourri. Other highly toxic agents include lilies, non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, acetaminophen, and mice or rodent bait.
Rat bait is so toxic to your cat that they may not survive after the initial symptoms of tremors sets in.
However, there is another condition that was originally thought to only affect dogs, but it is now becoming more widely accepted that it may also be perhaps the largest cause of tremors in cats as well. It is a condition that is referred to as White shaker syndrome and it is a very strange situation that it is still not fully understood.
This condition has historically attacked small breeds of dogs with white hair coats and is the source of its name. But it is now believed to also affect cats because of their size relative to small dogs and the same structure of the brain. It is a sudden development of both tremors and shaking that starts out very mild at first, but than develops to a situation where you're pet has difficulty in standing let alone walking.
Like small dogs, cats that are affected have all of their mental functions and there is absolutely no sign of any type of an infection or nervous disorder. However, the tremors become a lot worse with any type of stress or a constant handling. Although the cause is idiopathic, meaning there is no known cause, it is believed to be some type of an inflammation in the brain.
Tremors in cats can and do occur when your pet is excited, but it should stop just as suddenly as it starts. If it persists, you should seek medical attention form your veterinarian as quickly as possible.
With some underlying causes that can be identified, the tremors can successfully be treated. If the cause is unknown, there is no treatment other than supportive care. In will also be extremely important to monitor both your cats dietary intake as well as their nutritional intake as this will often cause a weight loss because of the stress that is associated.