orange tabby cat sleeping with paws tucked

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Have you ever watched your cat while they’re curled up in sleep and noticed them shivering or trembling? It’s a sight that can tug at our hearts and set off alarm bells. As a pet owner, it’s natural to worry when you see anything out of the ordinary with your furry friend, especially during their most vulnerable moments like sleep.

Interestingly enough, cats experience the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep just as humans do. This is often when dreaming occurs, which can explain some of those gentle twitches and shakes.

In this article, we’ll explore the various reasons behind why your feline friend might be shaking in their slumber — from perfectly normal dream-induced twitches to signs that warrant a vet’s attention.

Our goal is to help you understand when there’s no need for concern—and when it might be time for professional advice. You’re about to become an expert on your cat’s sleepy shivers!

Key Takeaways

  • Cats may tremble or shake while sleeping due to normal dream-induced twitches during the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep.
  • Medical concerns such as hypoglycemia, pain/injury, neurological disorders, and kidney disease can also cause your cats shivering during sleep. Look for symptoms like pale gums, decreased appetite, or signs of pain to identify potential health issues.
  • Environmental factors such as temperature fluctuations and stress triggers can lead to trembling in cats while sleeping. Ensure a comfortable environment and be aware of changes that might cause anxiety or stress in your cat.
  • If you notice abnormal shivering accompanied by weakness, loss of balance, changes in appetite/behavior, seek immediate veterinary care for a thorough medical examination. Timely intervention is crucial for addressing potential serious health issues affecting your cat’s well-being.

Understanding Normal Sleep Twitches in Cats

During the REM sleep cycle, cats experience muscle twitches and may even make small movements with their paws or whiskers. This is a normal part of the sleep pattern and often indicates that they are dreaming.

cat sleeping on open book

REM Sleep Cycle and Dreaming

Cats enter REM sleep just like humans, and this is the time they often start to twitch or shake. REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement. Think of it as a deep dream stage where your cat’s brain is very active.

They might even act out their dreams by moving their paws as if they are chasing something or shaking as part of the dream action.

These twitches happen because, in REM sleep, cats lose muscle tone which makes them go limp. The brain sends signals like it does when they’re awake, causing these involuntary movements.

It’s a totally normal thing for your kitty to do while sleeping and usually happens every 25 minutes or so. If you see your cat doing this, they’re probably having an interesting dream!

Medical Concerns That Cause Cats to Shiver or Tremble

Medical concerns that may cause trembling in cats include hypoglycemia, pain or injury considerations, neurological disorders, and implications of kidney disease. To learn more about these potential causes and how to address them, continue reading the full article.

Hypoglycemia and Its Symptoms

Hypoglycemia happens when your cat’s blood sugar drops too low. This can make your cat feel weak and confused. They might seem disoriented or have muscle twitches, which could look like trembling while they sleep.

If you don’t treat hypoglycemia, it can lead to more serious issues like collapses and even seizures.

Keep an eye out for signs of hypoglycemia in your kitty: tremors, pale gums, and not wanting to eat are clues that something is wrong. It’s especially a worry for kittens or cats with feline diabetes since their glucose levels need careful watching.

Low blood sugar levels can be a big health problem if ignored, so noticing these symptoms early on is key to keeping your feline friend safe and healthy.

Pain or Injury Considerations

Cats might tremble or shake when they’re hurting. This can happen if they have a physical injury like a cut, broken bone, or even internal pain that we can’t see. Just like people, cats may not show clearly when they are in pain, so shaking could be one of the few signs that something is wrong.

To figure out if an injury is causing your cat’s shaking, look for other clues such as limping, avoiding being touched, or hiding more than usual.

Sometimes a simple fall isn’t just a tumble; it could lead to serious problems. A hard landing after a leap might cause pain or harm to your cat that makes them shake while sleeping.

If you notice any swelling or the cat doesn’t want to move much, this could mean there’s been an injury. Keeping an eye on how your pet moves and behaves is key to spotting these issues early on and getting them the help they need fast.

Neurological Disorders

Disorders affecting the nervous system can cause trembling and shaking in cats while they sleep. Conditions like hyperesthesia syndrome can lead to head shaking and tremors. Additionally, cerebellar hypoplasia may affect a cat’s balance and mobility due to neurological issues.

These disorders can impact the way a cat moves and behaves, leading to visible signs of shaking or trembling during sleep.

Kidney Disease Implications

Kidney disease can have implications for your cat’s overall health, and trembling or shaking could be one of the signs. Elevated calcium levels in the bloodstream, linked to renal disease, might cause cats to shiver.

It’s important to note that there is no single specific symptom for kidney failure in cats, but back twitching may be observed. If you notice any unusual trembling or shaking in your cat, especially along with other symptoms like increased thirst and urination, decreased appetite, weight loss, and lethargy, it’s crucial to seek prompt veterinary care.

Understanding these implications can help you identify potential issues early on and ensure timely intervention for your feline companion’s well-being.

cat sleeping on pink cushion

Environmental and Emotional Factors

Changes in temperature can cause cats to tremble while sleeping, so ensuring a comfortable and stable environment is important. Additionally, anxiety or stress triggers can play a role in your cat’s shaking during sleep.

Temperature Fluctuations and Comfort

Cats are sensitive to temperature changes. Keeping your cat comfortable is crucial. If your cat is too hot or too cold, it may shiver. Provide a warm and cozy environment in the cold and limit exposure to excessive heat. Always ensure that the temperature where your cat sleeps is just right – not too hot, not too cold.

Oh! And remember, when in doubt about how your kitty is feeling, consult with a veterinarian for guidance. Keep an eye out for any unusual behavior related to body temperature; it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

Anxiety and Stress Triggers

Changes in routine can make cats anxious and cause them to shake while sleeping. Cats can become anxious or frustrated by things going on around them or by the way people interact with them.

They may experience shaking when in a situation that causes stress or anxiety, such as a new person in the home.

Environmental factors like temperature fluctuations can also impact their comfort level and lead to trembling during sleep. It’s important for pet owners to be aware of these triggers, as they can significantly affect their cat’s well-being.

When to Consult a Vet

If you notice your cat trembling or shaking excessively while sleeping, especially if it is accompanied by other concerning symptoms such as weakness, loss of balance, or changes in appetite and behavior, it’s important to contact your veterinarian for a thorough medical examination.

Recognizing Abnormal Cat Shivering

Abnormal shivering in cats may involve uncontrollable shaking of the legs, head, or whole body. It can be a sign of various underlying health issues such as poisoning, hypothermia, hypoglycemia, kidney disease, or neurological disorders.

If your cat is shaking and showing signs such as pale gums, cold limbs, rapid heart rate, low blood sugar levels or seizures; it’s crucial to seek immediate veterinary attention. Additionally, muscle tremors and shivering in cats can also occur due to pain or injury.

Any abnormal tremors should prompt thorough veterinary evaluation and care to identify and address potential serious health issues affecting your cat’s well-being.

Importance of Timely Veterinary Care

Timely veterinary care is crucial for your cat’s well-being. Consulting a veterinarian can help diagnose the specific cause of the tremors and shaking, determining the appropriate treatment to help your cat.

Addressing any potential health issues promptly is essential in ensuring your cat’s overall health and happiness.

Regular check-ups can also contribute to early detection of any underlying medical conditions that may be causing the trembling during sleep. By seeking timely veterinary care, you can provide proactive support and enhance your cat’s quality of life.

gray tabby kitten curled up asleep


Keeping an eye on your cat’s sleep habits, including any trembling or shaking, is a key part of caring for your furry companion. While most of the time, these movements are harmless signs of dreaming, it’s important to be aware of the signs that might indicate a health issue.

By understanding the normal aspects of cat sleep, recognizing potential medical concerns, and ensuring a comfortable environment, you can help ensure your cat’s health and happiness.

Always remember, if you notice any unusual or concerning symptoms, don’t hesitate to reach out to your vet. Your attentiveness and care make all the difference in your cat’s well-being, helping them to enjoy a comfortable and healthy life by your side.

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Written by Tom Cashman

I have grown up with pets for almost fifty years. My family has strong ties to the animal shelter community in Chicago. Currently I have two cats: an orange tabby named Zelda, and a gray mixed named Zander. Like all of my pets, they were adopted from a local animal shelter. Pet Zone represents my passion for sharing with the pet community.

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Why Does My Cat Tremble And Shiver While Sleeping?

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