What is Head Pressing?
Cats may press their head against a hard wall or other stationary object randomly. This is different than merely rubbing their head against something, head pressing is more forceful and is often repeated many times a day. If your cat begins this behavior, it is time to see your veterinarian for an examination and diagnosis.
Cats exhibit a variety of behaviors as they grow and mature. Most of these behaviors are normal, but some can signal a more serious problem. Head pressing in cats is often a compulsive act many owners consider cute. However, it can indicate serious neurological damage in your cat.
Symptoms of Head Pressing in Cats
Head pressing is just one symptom that occurs with some neurological problems. Other symptoms often accompany head pressing in domestic cats:
- Vision problems
- Slowed reflexes
- Head injuries from pressing head into objects forcefully
- Sores on feet from pacing
Causes of Head Pressing in Cats
There are a variety of medical conditions that can cause your cat to begin head pressing. The following are some of the most commonly diagnosed in domestic felines:
Brain tumors are a primary cause of head pressing in cats. Tumors that begin in the brain are known as primary tumors. Those that begin elsewhere in the body and spread to the brain are called secondary tumors. In addition to head pressing, cats with brain tumors may also have seizures and tenderness around the skull.
Disorders Of The Metabolism
Cats with metabolic diseases such as hypoglycemia may exhibit head pressing. These disorders can begin at birth or later on in life.
Cats can get into a number of toxic substances in and around the house that can cause many symptoms, including pressing the head. In addition, they can also cause immunodeficiencies, cancer, liver disease and other neurological problems.
Liver shunts are not common in cats, but when they occur head pressing may follow along with them. Cats that have this condition have impeded blood flow to the liver.
This disease primarily affects the forebrain and thalamus of the cat's brain. It can cause head pressing, seizures and many other neurological symptoms.
Your cat can acquire serious infections that can cause head pressing as a primary symptoms. Rabies, fungal infections, viruses and parasitic infections are a few types of infections that can occur.
Encephalitis is caused by inflammation of the brain, which can cause many adverse affects in your cat. Along with head pressing your cat may also have difficulty functioning and be lethargic.
Diagnosis of Head Pressing in Cats
Your veterinarian will need to ask you some questions in order to diagnose your cat. He will ask you to tell him when you first noticed your cat's head pressing and if he has any other health problems. Your doctor will also take vital signs such as temperature, weight, heart rate and respiration rate. Blood work may also be performed to determine if any infection or toxins are present. A urinalysis may be performed to determine if any metabolic conditions are responsible for symptoms.
When examining your cat, your doctor will perform an examination of his retina. This will let him know if there are any infectious diseases, inflammation or problems in the brain. Diagnostic tests such as a CT scan or MRI may reveal any brain tumors.
Treatment of Head Pressing in Cats
The treatment of head pressing in cats depends on the condition causing it. Serious issues such as brain tumors, liver shunts or encephalitis may require surgery and hospitalization. If your doctor finds your cat has a metabolic disorder he may treat him with medications on an outpatient basis. Cats that have serious or life-threatening conditions such as a liver shunt, may not be good candidates for treatment. Your doctor may recommend euthanasia as the most humane form of treatment in these cases. Obtaining an accurate diagnosis is the key to treating this condition. Once a diagnosis has been made, your doctor can move forward with treatment as needed.
Recovery of Head Pressing in Cats
The length of recovery from head pressing depends on the cause of the condition and the treatment your doctor uses. If a diagnosis cannot be made, your cat may continue to exhibit this behavior. Cats that have surgery will need several weeks to recover and may require follow-up treatment with your doctor. It is important to keep all return appointments for your cat. In addition, be sure to alert him to any unusual behaviors or new symptoms that may appear. Your doctor will also give you detailed instructions on how to manage your cat's condition as he ages.
Head Pressing Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
Hello my cat head presses every time after he eats for a few hours. After some time has passed he acts normal again. I have had blood test on his liver which came back as normal. What could be causing this? Will changing his diet make a difference?
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(Sorry for my bad english)
My cat started head pressing this morning. He looks really troblued and he is behaving in a weird way.
But yesterday and the other days he was alright.
He is 3 weeks old.
I'm always watching after him and it doesn't seem like he has eaten something poisonous or had any head traumas.
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Hello there, hope you could help us. Our cat is not eating nor drinking anything for the past two days. He is pressing his head against the wall all the time but somtimes he won't move at all. He's also kinda wobbly and has dark marks around his eyes and mouth. thaNK you for the help in advance. Have a lovely day!
Cases of head pressing are always serious and require Veterinary attention; head pressing may be caused by infection, trauma, liver disease, poisoning, metabolic diseases, parasites, blood glucose imbalance among other causes. It would be best to have Bimbi examined by his Veterinarian for a neurological examination and possibly some blood tests. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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