Why Do Cats Shake Their Head When They Eat? [ Answered ]

Cats are quirky creatures, and it can take time to understand their behavior. Some cats gel easier than the rest, while others can be difficult to handle.

But the good news is that most of these behaviors are peculiar to them and are completely normal. A lot of research papers talk about their distinct reactions and explain them.

So, if you have been wondering why cats shake their head when they eat – you are at the right place! This article lays down all possible reasons and helps you better connect with your feline friend.

Why do cats shake their heads when they eat?

Cats are endearing, and their unpredictable nature makes up for an interesting inclusion in a household. Cats can be extremely moody, so parenting them right is important to save yourself the extra hassle of having an unruly cat. For a cat parent, it becomes crucial to maintain a set of rules in the house for proper functionality.

Cat behaviors are difficult to pinpoint for a single reason. They are usually an amalgamation of multiple reasons or may even be a trauma response.

Some of these behaviors are normal, but you may have to look out for some as they could indicate an underlying health concern.

That said, cats shake their heads when they eat, which is normal. The most common reason is that the cat is enjoying the meal. However, in some cases, it can also indicate that your cat has difficulty eating.

Why do cats shake their heads when they eat?

There are multiple reasons why a cat shakes its head when it eats. Let us go through them to understand our cats better.

An important thing to note is whether or not the cat is subtly moving its head or is aggressive with the movement.

Subtle head shakes are often directed towards enjoyment and show that the cat loves the meal. Whereas aggressive head shakes indicate that the cat has a problem breaking down the food or has an underlying disease.

1. Your Cat loves the meal

Cats have predatory instincts, which is why people usually think cats only shake their heads when exposed to the wilderness. Contrary to this belief, you will often find a domesticated call shaking its head when eating.

 Like humans, cats are also sentimental about food. Cat parents believe their feline friend does the same when they enjoy the meal and are satisfied with the feed. The best way to know is to watch out for the speed – the faster your cat finishes it off from the bowl, the better it likes the meal.

If you are someone who gives your cat different kinds of food at different intervals, you can look out for this behavior. Your cat is most likely to shake its head when you feed them its favorite kind of food.

2. Your cat is not happy with the meal

Much like humans, cats can also shake their heads out of displeasure. So, the shaking of the head when eating can have a completely negative connotation attached to it. You can easily understand how your cat behaves around the meal.

If it leaves the meal aside and moves away -it is simple – your cat does not like the food. Cats can behave moody around meals and may also have specific requirements. An example would be when a cat refuses to drink water from a well-placed bowl and chooses to drink from a running tap instead.

3. Your cat has Hypoglycemia

Moving to the relatively serious part, your cat may suffer from hypoglycemia if you spot it trembling while eating. Hypoglycemia indicates low sugar levels and accompanies many more symptoms like restlessness, excess sleep, and sometimes even seizures.

The best way to avoid hypoglycemia is by feeding your cat properly and not leaving it unattended for more than 12 hours. Proper feeding schedules serve as the perfect action to combat low sugar levels and retain a healthy lifestyle for your cat.

Another thing to avoid is continuous exercise – if your cat is always hyper, it may suffer from a reduction in glucose levels. Balance is always the key. Never let your cat rest or work too much.

4. Your cat has dental problems

Like humans, cats, too, can have dental problems. While shaking their heads may direct toward a couple of complex things, it can also be pretty simple. Gingivitis, tooth cavities, and swollen gums are some of the dental issues that cats face.

Dental problems accompany difficulty swallowing or chewing food, which you can notice easily. It can also come in the form of loss of appetite, weight loss, and a continuous refusal to eat. While these are natural in cats and are often treatable – resorption lesions can also result in some adult cats losing their teeth.

The best way is to look inside your cat’s mouth and investigate the swollen gums. If it is bleeding, take your cat immediately to the vet, as it can cause infections. It will ensure that your cat gets suitable treatment and cures faster.

5. Your cat has underlying health concerns

Cats can also shake their heads to indicate other health concerns like that in its liver, pancreas, or even severe bacterial infections. In such cases, immediately taking your cat to the vet is the only way out. Proper medication and timely care will help your cat get healthy sooner.

6. Your cat is having difficulty eating

In this case, you need to look out for the food you are feeding your cat. Sometimes cats do not like a certain form of food as it is difficult to break them down or because they do not like it.

It usually happens with dry kibble, as it is not as convenient to swallow as wet cat food. It is one of the reasons why cats gravitate toward wet food way more than solids. However, cats can also shake their heads if trying to debone the meat or break it into tinier pieces.

7. Your cat has predatory instincts

Cats are wild creatures and are pretty competitive. More often than not, your cat may be chasing prey while shaking its head. It is trying to get the little prey under control or establishing a power play.

Cats don’t kill instantly – they have a particular pattern of stalking, pouncing, playing, and then attacking their target. This behavior towards the target is wired in their head and passed through generations. It may not shake it to death, but it is bound to play with it before killing it to savor it.

Is it normal for cats to shake their heads?

Common research shows that cats often imitate their human friends and pick up on behavioral traits. While it is not quite normal for cats to shake their heads when eating, it isn’t a complete shocker either.

As discussed earlier, there are many reasons behind this behavior, and it is usually nothing serious. Also, if you notice your cat shaking their head often – there can also be mites, ear infections, or foreign bodies disturbing your feline friend.


Like most cat behaviors are normal till a certain point, shaking their heads when eating is no different. It is only a concern when this behavior is frequent, aggressive, or accompanied by other symptoms. It is when you need to see a vet and get your cat checked.

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