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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. 

Head Pressing Average Cost

From 445 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,500

Average Cost

$1,100

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:

  • Pacing
  • Circling
  • Vision problems
  • Seizures
  • Slowed reflexes
  • Head injuries from pressing head into objects forcefully
  • Sores on feet from pacing
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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

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.

Poisoning

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 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. 

Prosencephalon Disease

This disease primarily affects the forebrain and thalamus of the cat's brain. It can cause head pressing, seizures and many other neurological symptoms. 

Infection

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

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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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Head Pressing Average Cost

From 445 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,500

Average Cost

$1,100

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Head Pressing Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Main coon

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Twenty Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Head Pressing And Walking In Circles - Unaware Of Where He Is

My cat doesn’t seem to be able to find his way around the house, pressing his head against the wall and walking in circles. I took him to the vet today and his test came back relatively normal (slightly low calcium and slight elevated BP - 40). This just started seemingly overnight. He’s been almost completely blind and deaf for a while but has been able to effectively get around the house. He no longer tries to “jump/walk” off the couch he just plops down and fall to laying down position. I feel like it’s likely time to put him down but the vet didn’t seem to be very helpful.

July 18, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello So sorry to see that your cat is not doing well. From what you are describing, it sounds like he is suffering from some type of neurologic issue. As an older cat, he could have cancer. It may be time to consider putting him down. Do you feel like his quality of life is poor? Is he having more bad days than good days? If so, then it sounds like it is time to euthanize. I know that this is a very hard decision. Good luck.

July 18, 2020

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Felix

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Mestizo

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3 Weeks

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea

(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. PLEASE HELP

July 27, 2018

Felix's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

There are many causes for head pressing, never any good causes; if Mestizo is head pressing you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination immediately since there are many conditions which may cause these types of symptoms to present including trauma, poisoning, congenital defect (common in kittens), liver disease among other causes. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 28, 2018

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Casper

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Persain

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11 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Head Pressing

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?

June 5, 2018

Casper's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Whilst liver and kidney disease may lead to head pressing; other causes including some viral infections, neurological conditions, cancer, poisoning among other causes may also lead to head pressing. I’m not aware of a dietary link to head pressing, but it is always worth changing to be sure and a restricted ingredient diet would be best. However, if there is no improvement in this symptom it may be worth consulting a Neurologist. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 6, 2018

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Bimbi

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Unknown

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2 Years

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Head Pressing
Not Active
Paralysis In Hind Legs
Wobbly

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!

July 26, 2017

Bimbi's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

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

July 26, 2017

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Maizy

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Idk

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4 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Drooling
Hissing
Siezures
Pressing Her Face

My cat is having reoccurring siezures, and drools a lot while they are happening. She presses her head agains everything and is wobbly when she is walking. She also runs in repeative circles and hisses like she isn’t even the same cat. Please help

Head Pressing Average Cost

From 445 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,500

Average Cost

$1,100

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