As humans, we experience headaches a lot.
And while there is no straightforward way to diagnose headaches, we can easily let our doctors know how we feel through communication.
But what about our feline pets?
Can cats get headaches too?
Cats get headaches just like humans. Though cat headache symptoms are hard to diagnose, they are most likely caused by underlying diseases or structural problems. Common causes of migraines in cats including head trauma, allergies, fever, brain diseases, dehydration, and food ingredients.
Cat headache symptoms are hard to diagnose because your feline will not tell you about it.
If anything, cats prefer to isolate themselves when they are suffering a disease or any discomfort.
Fortunately, you will be able to tell if your cat has a migraine if they show some of the symptoms we are going to discuss.
💡 Fun Fact
Cats hide their pain to avoid looking weak in front of rivals or predators.
Before we get to that, we need to define what a headache is.
What is a Headache?
This is a pain symptom that affects different regions of the head and neck.
Headaches are classified as;
A primary headache is any mild head or neck pain that is not life-threatening.
The most common type of headache is tension headaches.
The second type of headache is migraines.
Migraines are recurring tension headaches that may grow worse if not treated.
The third type of headache is cluster headaches.
Though they are not fatal, they can be very painful and affect the quality of life.
Secondary headaches occur as a symptom of underlying diseases or injuries.
They can be benign or dangerous depending on their severity. Cat headache symptoms can be both primary and secondary.
Cats will only experience headaches as a symptom of a disease or physiological problem.
What causes headaches in cats?
Many conditions can cause headaches or migraines in cats.
Some of these conditions include;
- Head trauma
- Upper respiratory infection
- Brain diseases
- Dental problems
Your cat may suffer a mild headache if they fall and bump their head on a surface.
Headaches may also occur if your cat gets hit by something like a tennis ball or frisbee.
Treating the trauma will help reduce cat headache symptoms.
Upper respiratory infection
Upper respiratory diseases can cause headaches in cats.
The constant sneezing and coughing irritate the meninges (brain membrane) causing a mild or severe headache.
💡 Did you know
The brain has no pain receptors so it cannot experience headaches. Headaches only occur in the areas around the brain like the meninges, blood vessels, and nerves.
Other symptoms of upper respiratory disease including a runny nose, discharge in the eyes, a coarse meow, a high fever, and the sniffles.
Your cat may suffer a migraine from an underlying brain disease.
Diseases like encephalitis or brain tumors may affect the nerves, blood vessels, and brain membrane causing pain.
Fever is often a sign of infection in one or a collection of body organs.
If your cat has a brain infection, the fever may be accompanied by mild or severe head pains.
A toothache could easily cause a headache in a cat.
Also, cat headache symptoms may result from dental diseases like gingivitis (gum inflammation) or periodontal disease (gum disease).
Cats can get headaches from food allergies just like humans.
Some headaches may also be caused by allergic reactions to pathogens like fleas or environmental allergens like hay or pollen.
In humans, one of the warning signs of dehydration is a mild headache.
Cats are known to be poor drinkers and, therefore, are more likely to suffer dehydration.
While we may not detect the headache the cat is experiencing, we can diagnose other signs of dehydration in cats like a rough coat, sunken eyes, and disorientation.
Severe stress causes headaches in humans and the same can be said for cats as well.
Cats are likely to be stressed if they are sick or there is a sudden change in their environment.
Bullying from other pets can also cause stress in cats.
What are the symptoms of headaches in cats
Though cats prefer hiding their pain, they cannot conceal the discomfort for long.
Common cat headache symptoms include;
- A change in pulse and heart rate
- Excessive purring (unless they are relaxing)
- Increased agitation — your cat can easily bite or scratch you when they are irritated by a headache
- Reddened eyes and changes in vision
- Low energy/lethargy
- Reduce appetite
- Odd behaviors like sleeping in their litter box
Video: Dr. Becker Discusses Head Pressing
What should I do if my cat has a headache?
If you suspect your cat has a mild or severe headache, you should take the feline to a vet immediately.
Though cat headache symptoms are not easy to treat, your vet will diagnose for the underlying disease causing the migraine.
Once the disease or structural problem is addressed, the headaches should stop.
Frequently Asked Questions
A cat may not necessarily purr if they are in pain. But some cats will excessively purr when the pain is too much. Purring is often a sign of pleasure and relaxation in cats.
Yes, dogs can suffer headaches just like cats. Some of the causes of canine migraines include dental issues, head injuries, disease, and allergies.
A cat that is in pain will often isolate itself. It will avoid people, pets and all the activities it enjoys doing. A cat that is in pain may also meow or purr excessively and appear restless. The cat may also bite or scratch if you touch the area with the pain.
Cats have no way of telling you they have a migraine. However, you may notice that your cat is irritable, feeling dizzy, or appears lazy. These could be some of the symptoms of a headache.