You may have seen images circulating around the internet of cats with their heads pressed against a wall or against the floor with funny text that says something like “I can’t do Mondays”. While these pictures may seem funny at first, these cats are actually exhibiting a behavior called “head pressing”, and it’s no joke.
What is Head Pressing?
Head pressing is when a cat compulsively presses their head against a hard, inanimate surface relentlessly and for no apparent reason. This is different from “head butting”, in which your cat will affectionately bump their head into you. Head pressing in cats manifests itself as a behavior in which that cat pressed their head against an inanimate object relentlessly. If pressing into a wall, they may slide their head against the wall until they reach a corner where they become stuck.
Head pressing in cats is a sign of damage to the nervous system. Other symptoms of nervous system damage include:
- Abnormal vocalization
- Compulsive pacing and circling
- Changes in behavior
- Visual impairment
- Damaged reflexes
Head pressing isn’t a sign of one particular neurological disorder, but it is always a sign that you should bring your cat to see us immediately. In cats, it can be a sign of various different disorders, including:
- Head trauma
- Brain or skull tumors
- Toxic poisoning
- Prosencephalon disease (in which the forebrain and thalamus parts of the brain are damaged)
- Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain and spinal cord)
- Liver shunt
- Metabolic disorder
- Hepatic encephalopathy (metabolic disorder as result of liver disease)
- Infection of the nervous system (parasites, rabies, bacterial, viral, or fungal infection)
What Do I Do If My Cat is Head Pressing?
After reading all of this scary information, you may be feeling pretty worried about your cat. If you think that your cat is head pressing, then it’s important to bring them to the vet right away. We’ll perform a series of tests to diagnose and treat the issue.
You may see us give your cat an in-depth eye exam to look for anomalies at the back of the eye that reveal irregularities in the brain or infectious or inflammatory diseases. We may also perform blood pressure tests and a urine analysis to find out if your cat has high blood pressure, problems with metabolism, or toxins in their system.
No matter what is causing your cat’s head pressing behavior, it’s important to bring them to the vet immediately so that we can treat them and they can go back to being the healthy, happy, energetic cat they’re meant to be.
Get in Touch with the Catonsville Cat Clinic
has been a fixture in this community for 25 years now. Dr. Nesbitt is not only extremely qualified, but she also takes a vested interest in the well-being your kitty. Whether you have health concerns for your cat, or it just needs a checkup, bring them by and have us take a look.