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Do Cats Get Headaches Or Migraines? What Do The Experts Say?

Do Cats Get Headaches Or Migraines? What Do The Experts Say?

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As cat owners, it’s natural to be concerned about the well-being and health of our furry friends.

Headaches can be a significant source of discomfort for humans, so it’s only natural to wonder if our feline companions can experience the same discomfort.

In this article, we’ll explore do cats get headaches and provide all the information you need to understand if and how your cat may be affected.

Whether you’re a seasoned cat owner or new to the world of feline care, this article will provide you with valuable insights and help you better care for your beloved feline!

Do Cats Get Headaches Or Migraines?

A cat who is having a headache

Although cats do not get headaches or migraines, it is believed that cats can experience headache-like symptoms.

Although cats may not experience headaches or migraines the same way humans do, they can still experience pain and discomfort in their head and neck region!

Below, we’ll talk about potential causes of the pain and discomfort, so make sure to stick around.

Is There Any Scientific Research About The Occurrence Of Headaches And Migraines In Felines?

Unfortunately, I could not find any scientific research on headaches and migraines in felines.

Most of the research on this topic has been conducted on humans and other mammals, such as dogs, rather than cats.

Let me note that there has been some anecdotal evidence from pet owners that their cats have experienced headaches or migraines, although this has no scientific background.

Let’s Learn More About Headaches And Migraines In Humans

woman on bed having headache

Headaches are a common medical ailment that can affect people and animals alike.

Headaches are often characterized by pain or discomfort in the head region, which various factors, such as muscle tension in the neck muscles, inflammation or infection in the brain, or dysfunction of the blood vessels, can cause.

Causes of headaches also include stress, certain foods, changes in sleep patterns, and hormonal changes.

Headaches can be either primary or secondary. Other medical conditions do not cause primary headaches.

The most common primary headaches include migraines, tension headaches, and cluster headaches (very severe headaches).

Migraines are primary headaches characterized by severe, throbbing pain, usually on one side of the head. 

Migraines can also cause other symptoms, such as sensitivity to light, sound, and smells; nausea; and vomiting.

Other medical conditions, such as a sinus infection, a concussion, or a brain tumor, cause secondary headaches.

Headache-Like Symptoms Cats May Experience

Cats can experience a variety of symptoms that may be similar to headaches in humans, including:

• Pain or discomfort

• Loss of appetite, and loss of energy

• Vomiting or nausea

• Changes in the cat’s behavior, such as irritability or aggression

What Causes Headache-Like Symptoms In Cats?

White cat sleeping on wooden sofa

There are a variety of reasons why a cat may experience headache-like symptoms. Some common causes of these symptoms in cats include:

1. Infections

Cats can develop infections in their sinuses, ears, or other parts of the head, which can cause headache-like symptoms.

In cats, sinus infections can cause various symptoms, including pain or discomfort in the head or neck, squinting or rubbing the head or eyes, or changes in behavior, which are all headache-like symptoms.

Common symptoms of an ear infection in cats include shaking their head, scratching their ears, and pain when touched around the ears, which can be interpreted as headache-like symptoms.

2. Injuries

Head trauma, such as concussions or skull fractures, can cause headache-like symptoms in cats.

Head injuries in cats can cause various symptoms, including pain or discomfort in the head or neck, squinting or rubbing the head or eyes, or changes in behavior.

Other head injury symptoms in cats are vomiting, nausea, or changes in appetite or thirst.

3. Nervous System Disorders

Cute sad cat Scottish Fold makes facepalm movement

Certain disorders of the nervous system, such as brain tumors, or types of brain disease – such as epilepsy – can cause headache-like symptoms in cats.

• Brain Tumor

Cats with brain tumors may experience headache-like symptoms, such as pain or discomfort in the head or neck, squinting or rubbing the head or eyes, or changes in behavior.

Cats with brain tumors may exhibit changes in behavior, such as lethargy, irritability, or changes in appetite or activity levels.

• Nerve Dysfunction

Cats can experience neuropathic pain, a type of chronic pain caused by damage or dysfunction in the nerves.

Various factors, including physical injuries, infections, inflammation, or certain medical conditions, can cause cat neuropathic pain.

4. Allergies

Cats can develop allergies to certain substances, such as pollen or household chemicals, which can cause headache-like symptoms.

Cats with allergies may display signs such as rubbing the head or eyes or changes in behavior, appetite or activity level. They usually have a decreased appetite or are less active than usual.

Again, these symptoms coincide with headache symptoms.

5. Overheating

When a cat’s body temperature rises too much from exposure to hot weather or from a lack of access to cool, shaded locations, it develops heat stroke.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion in cats (apart from the obvious ones like panting) may include weakness or lethargy, irritability, or aggression, all of which are headache-like symptoms.

Cats are prone to heat stroke and can become dehydrated easily, so it is essential to ensure they have access to plenty of cool water and a shaded area to rest in during hot weather.

6. Other Health Issues

Other medical conditions, such as dental problems or hormonal imbalances, can cause headache-like symptoms in both younger and senior cats.

Behavior changes can be a sign of dental issues in cats.

Dental issues in cats can cause various symptoms, including refusal to eat or difficulty eating. Cats with dental issues may become more aggressive or irritable due to tooth pain or discomfort in the mouth.

As you can see, some symptoms of dental issues are similar to the symptoms humans experience with headaches.

When Is It Time To Take My Cat To The Vet?

A veterinarian holds a striped cat in his arms

If your feline friend is experiencing head pain or headache-like symptoms, it is crucial to have them evaluated by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Cat parents, if your cat is showing any additional signs of illness that indicate a cat has suffered a head trauma, is battling with some infection, or has nervous system issues, a vet visit is necessary.

Various underlying medical conditions, such as infections, injuries, or nervous system disorders, can cause headache-like symptoms in cats.

A veterinarian can determine the cause of your pet’s symptoms and recommend appropriate treatment, perhaps even prescribe pain medication.

Therefore, if you observe your cat showing signs of a headache, it’s most likely a sign of an underlying health issue rather than the headache that humans experience.

Headaches And Migraines In Dogs

Sick English Cocker spaniel puppy lying with ice bag or ice pack on it head

In 2013, an article titled “Migraine-like Episodic Pain Behavior in a Dog: Can Dogs Suffer from Migraines?” was published in the Journal Of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

This article discusses a dog that exhibited symptoms similar to migraines in humans.

While it was not definitively diagnosed with migraines, it would have met the criteria for a migraine diagnosis in humans.

Let me summarize the case of a female neutered Cocker Spaniel showing headache-like symptoms.

• A 5-year-old dog experienced episodes of vocalization and fear that lasted up to 3 days and happened 1-2 times a month. The dog appeared afraid and showed signs of pain and nausea during these episodes.

• The dog was given several medications, but they did not help. Tests for seizure disorder or pain syndrome were normal.

• However, a medicine called topiramate improved the dog’s symptoms. The dog’s episodes were eventually controlled with topiramate and another medicine called propranolol.

It was suggested that the dog may have had a headache disorder similar to migraines in humans.

In Conclusion

Let’s go over the most important information once more!

So, do cats get headaches or migraines?

It is not definitively known whether cats can experience headaches or migraines in the same way that humans do. There needs to be more research in the field of cat health in this particular area.

Some veterinarians believe cats may be capable of experiencing headaches, but there is limited research on the subject.

And there you have everything you need to know about this topic! I know I haven’t given you a definitive Yes or No answer – but there is simply no research about this subject to know for sure.

Either way, If you believe your feline is experiencing headaches or migraines, I suggest you visit a vet!

I’m sure your kitty will feel better soon!

If you liked this article, I suggest you read more about: Can A Cat Be Bipolar? Essential Feline Mental Health Facts