My cat shakes its legs when trying to sleep, why?

Pets Asked by David Merinos on December 16, 2020

My cat is 3 months old, he’s been with us for a month but lately I’ve observed that sometimes when he’s trying to sleep or falling asleep he starts shaking like he’s got cold, like shivers. I thought he might have got fever or something like that, we took him to the vet but he said it wasn’t nothing, that it was probably normal.

I do not doubt of his professionalism (or maybe I do) but this behaviour just seems weird to me (it’s the first time I’ve had a pet). He only shakes when he’s trying to sleep. Is this normal? As I said, it shakes like if he’s got some chills.


I know it’s normal for him to shake ONCE he is completely asleep. This happens before he gets into REM

5 Answers

By observation and experimentation I've learnt that this behavior shows in my cat when he hasn't eaten in a long period of time (4 hours for example). I'm trying to keep him fed every 4 hours or so.

I'm presuming a lack of sugar or some other enzyme.

Thanks for all your answers!

EDIT: My cat is turning 8 months in two days. He's very healthy aside from a little skin infection he had a few weeks ago, vet gave him some meds and his skin is good now. His leg hasn't shaken in a long while. Perhaps it had something to do with his age?

EDIT: My cat is turning 1 year old in a few days! He stopped doing these weird twitches a while ago. So I believe it was indeed something about his age.

EDIT: My cat is 1 year 9 months old now and he's healthier than ever (I believe so). I haven't noticed any twitches anymore. He started to chase his tail in the bathroom though.

EDIT: My cat is 4 years old now, he's really healthy, his twitches disappeared and I didn't even notice. We feed him every few hours (we usually leave his food for him to eat on his own). We do not let him out, he's a homebody cat.

Correct answer by David Merinos on December 16, 2020

One of my 2 cats does this and I was really worried about it. We found out that he suffers from feline leukemia and thought it might be connected to that, so the last time I took him to the vet I asked about that. The vet asked me if it only happened when he is falling asleep and I said that from my observations it's only then. She then told me that if that's the case, it shouldn't be a cause for concern and that it's normal. It calmed me down a bit, but it still looks a little scary. As the poster said, it looks like he is shivering from cold and it comes in short spasms, his body shakes for a second or two, then stops and shakes again.

Answered by Miledith on December 16, 2020

I'm happy that your cat is overcome this problem of shaking on falling asleep My cat 1.3 years old has this problem today, he took the inactivated rabies vaccine yesterday (second time in his life). The shaking is not severe but it prevents him from sleep, but otherwise he is normal. I think this is related to the vaccine (now Nobivac, first time it was Rabvac) I had no problem with the Rabvac Most probably your cat had the rabies vaccine by 3 month of age. This may also be the cause. That is why I'm relieved somewhat by the fact that it was temporary. I only hope that he manages to get some good sleep. I will observe him and feed him more as per your advice. thank you very much.

Answered by ezzsakr on December 16, 2020

My seemingly perfectly healthy and well-cared for (micro chips, shots, regular vet check-ups, topical flea drops etc etc) 5 month old male kitten has started doing this, but his brother hasn't. I agree, it isn't the same thing as the twitch when they're falling alseep (myoclonic spasm/hypnic jerk), nor is it dreaming kitty twitches as they chase after that mouse in their dreams.

This, as the poster says, is different. It's a persistent, on/off shivering seperate from purring, that occurs WHILE he's falling asleep. You can tell when a cat is falling asleep as their purr fades and cuts in and out like an engine running out of gas, then stops as they fall completely asleep.

The shivering is whole body but not all at once, so his shoulders/head will shiver, or his haunches will shiver. They sometimes both shiver, but there's usually a switch. It happens on whichever side is uppermost, so I guess it's going on on the other side too.

Having read up on it, and being fairly sure that he's a basically very healthy little guy, I think it's either a touch of low blood sugar - he's not too keen on the new food we got - or he's a bit cold. I've made sure he's eaten something and drunk some water, and popped him on a big duvet.

If the shivering persists, it's vet time, as it could be a reaction to something he's nibbled, a fever, or something awry with his kidneys, but I doubt that.

Answered by Paolo il Lupo on December 16, 2020

You may be observing your cat having hypnic jerks.


A hypnic jerk, hypnagogic jerk, sleep start, sleep twitch or night start, is an involuntary twitch which occurs just as a person is beginning to fall asleep, often causing them to awaken suddenly for a moment. Physically, hypnic jerks resemble the "jump" experienced by a person when startled, often accompanied by a falling sensation.

Answered by Kai on December 16, 2020

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