- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
For your cat, ear twitching can be a super cute and regular part of their daily routine. After all, their ears are one of their most expressive features. “Cats do move their ears as a part of normal behavior,” says Candy Akers, DVM, a holistic veterinarian based in Colorado. However, not every ear twitch is benign. However, Dr. Akers says if you notice excessive ear twitching or other unusual behavior, it might indicate that something is bothering your cat’s ears.
Below, discover all the possible reasons behind your cat’s ear twitching, and learn whether it’s business as usual or a trip to the vet is in order.
7 Behavioral Reasons For Cat Ear Twitching
A cat twitching their ears now and then isn’t usually a cause for worry. It’s often a sign that their ear muscles are hard at work.
“Cats have over 30 muscles controlling each ear, and their ears move independently of each other,” explains Stephen Quandt, a certified feline training and behavior specialist. He adds that if your cat’s ear twitches then rotates, they might be activating their ear muscles.
According to Quandt, one or more behavioral factors might be behind your cat’s regular ear twitches.
- They heard something interesting. Cats can hear sounds that humans can’t. So, if they seemingly twitch for no reason, it could be that they’re picking up on an intriguing sound.
- They’re surprised. They might perk their ears up if you catch your cat by surprise.
- They’re mad. Your cat might make flattened “airplane ears” when they’re angry or annoyed.
- They’re picking up vibrations. Air currents can cause vibrations cats are sensitive to, which might result in an ear twitch.
- They’re itchy. We all have occasional itches—including our cats. Your cat might twitch their ears to relieve a momentary itch.
- They’re dreaming. If your cat’s ears twitch while asleep, they could be amid an exciting dream.
- They’re paying attention. Your cat might be sleeping on you but not fully asleep. Instead, their ear twitches could signal that they’re listening to the world around them while catching some ZZZs.
6 Medical Reasons For Cat Ear Twitching
Sometimes, your cat might start twitching their ears excessively or scratching them more often. When their ear twitching suddenly increases, or your cat shows other signs of irritation, it could signal one of the following medical conditions.
Ear mites are tiny, microscopic parasites that can cause significant irritation for your cat. Dr. Akers explains that ear mites are responsible for intense itchiness in cat ears, leading them to twitch, scratch, or shake their heads frequently.
To diagnose ear mites, your vet can use an otoscope to peek inside your cat’s ears or collect a sample with a cotton swab. Once the vet confirms the presence of ear mites, they can prescribe oral medicines or ear drops to help your kitty find relief.
Like us, Dr. Akers says cats can have an allergic reaction. She adds that allergies can cause itchiness or lead your cat to ear twitch.
Your vet can test your cat for allergies to common substances, like dust or pollen, and prescribe “allergy shots” to potentially help control their allergic reactions.
Diabetes is a condition that causes a cat’s blood sugar levels to fluctuate. If a cat with diabetes experiences low blood sugar, their ears might twitch as a subtle symptom. Other potential signs of feline diabetes include unexplained weight loss and excessive hunger and thirst.
While there isn’t a cure for diabetes, many cats can enter “diabetic remission” with early treatment. This means they can maintain normal blood sugar levels without insulin shots. Instead, a special diabetic cat diet is recommended.
Your cat’s ears are home to microscopic substances, including the fungus Malassezia. But if something changes the environment in your cat’s ear, the fungi can overgrow and result in an ear infection.
Besides twitching, Dr. Akers says you might also notice redness, swelling, a foul odor, or discharge. If you suspect your cat has an ear infection, you should take them to the vet for early treatment. Severe ear infections could potentially migrate to the inner ear and result in hearing loss.
Some skin conditions, like dermatitis, can cause redness and irritation in a cat’s skin. Dr. Akers says if it spreads to a cat’s ears, it could lead to itchiness and twitching. If your cat has a skin condition, topical or oral medications can help them find relief.
Foreign objects or injuries
If your cat has something stuck in their ear, Dr. Akers says they might try to dislodge it by twitching their ears or shaking their head. If your cat allows it, you can try to peek inside their ears to see if anything is stuck inside. It’s best to leave extraction to your vet since you don’t want to risk damaging your cat’s sensitive ears.
Before worrying, remember that most ear twitches aren’t usually problematic. The occasional twitch may mean your cat is paying close attention to the world around them. After all, they wouldn’t want to miss their favorite sounds.