Sudden onset ear twitching/head shaking/lip licking

by Tricia
(Las Vegas, NV)

My 2 yr. old female who is prone to herpes outbreaks on her lip (though doesn't have one now) started flicking her ears, then shaking her head, cleaning her face with her paw and licking her lips. She does it right after eating, several times during the evening and numerous times during the middle of the night. She has a small under-the-skin knot to the side of her nose (which also tends to get when she has herpes outbreaks). I took her to vet day after she started this and she was given injections of antibiotic, antiinflammatory and interferon, as well as ear drops which I give her every other day. It's been 4 days since this treatment and her condition doesn't seem to be improving yet.

I called my vet's office and they said they would have expected a slight improvement by now and that if she isn't showing signs of improvement in the next two days to bring her back in so they can sedate her and do a head x-ray.

No vomiting, no diarrhea, no running eyes or nose, no temperature. Her appetite seems slightly down and she's acting a little under the weather.

Any thoughts anyone?

Comment by Kate
Hi i'm afraid i cannot add anything here. You are doing the right thing and getting in touch with your vet etc. It sounds to me like this may need further investigation before a solution can be found.

Hope it can be sorted out soon for you both.

best wishes Kate

Comments for Sudden onset ear twitching/head shaking/lip licking

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Cat with ear twitching, lip licking
by: Carol

My 3 year ol cat also has feline herpes and was experiencing similar symptoms last year. It was related to an outbreak. A 10 day course of steroids tapered over course did the trick. She still has occ lip licking and sneezing episodes lately. I bought a homeopathic remedy for this on chewy, so will try this for a bit before taking next step to vet.

Same issue, same cause as some others
by: Anonymous

Hi, just sharing my experience in case it helps. My 7 year old cat very suddenly started licking his lips almost constantly and shaking his head; after reading this thread I checked his teeth and found a piece of his own claw stuck between his smallest upper front teeth. One cat-in-a-towel burrito, some tweezers, and a lot of treats later, he seems much happier. Thanks!

2 yr old cat lip licking
by: Carol

Hi, just wondering if anyone has had any definitive dx for their cat w similar s/s: lip licking, ear twitching and shakes head. Has outbreak of feline herpes and tx w antiviral. No further outbreak but these s/s cont. Otherwise fine....

I have the same problem
by: Anonymous

If you dont mind me asking. Wht was wrong with your cat? Did you ever find out?

ear twitching, lip licking head shakingI
by: Anonymous

I used cheap laundry detergent purple bottle. It left a gooey film on the blankets. My kittie died suddenly two days later with no symptoms except constant lip licking, head shaking and ear twitching. She was only three and an indoor cat. Likewise, my aunt's two year old catalso died suddenly within that week. This happened on March 15, 2018.

Head tremors and lip licking
by: Anonymous

My 1 year old bulldog just started doing the same thing lip licking after eating and wakes himself up with head tremors please does anyone have any idea what this is? My vet said partial seizures have no medicine and told me to take him to a Neurologist !

Head shaking, licking paws, lip licking after eating - it's FLEAS!!
by: Sherrie

Both my cats started this.. Fleas drop into their food dish. They also can get around their head especially after being groomed improperly. Groomers should make a "ring" of blue dawn shampoo suds around the neck FIRST.., then shampoo the cat leaving the suds in for at least 8-10 mins. Then, they/you can add a stream of vinegar to repell the fleas quickly in with the shampoo.. This prevents the fleas from ALL running toward the head. Sticktight fleas love the head of the cat... FYI. Hope this helps... Even if not groomed...lots of fleas on the kitty leads to this behavior. No doubt.

Same symptoms -- found the cause
by: Anonymous

Our cat suddenly started, out of nowhere while grooming himself, to do the crazy head shaking, lots of licking with a curled tongue, putting his head up and back, and wagging his tail. We saw that another poster found a piece of the cat's claw between its teeth, so we decided to look. It turned out there was a small piece of plastic between his bottom front teeth. It must have been stuck in his fur, and he got it between his teeth while grooming. Now he's back to normal! Hope that helps!

Same symptoms, please help
by: Kristen


My 5 year old male cat has been doing the same thing for a couple weeks. It seems to affecting his personality as he is less social and more likely to lay around and mope. The vet suspected an inner ear infection and he's been on antibiotics for almost two weeks. I think the next step will be a thorough mouth exam (under sedation) and maybe a CT scan after that.

Has anyone who's experienced this been able to figure out what it was?


by: MissDaisy

My cat's been having the same issue for months. I'm at my wit's end. Anyone figure anything out???

Same thing - here's what it was
by: Anonymous

I was convinced my cat had a neurological problem. Twitching, shaking head, low walking/back leg twitching and licking. He did this on and off for a while.

I was able to finally discover that he had a sharp piece of his own claw stuck in between his lower front teeth - the tiny teeth. I pried it out and it fixed the issue.

I could not believe that's all it was. I was convinced he was having some kind of weird seizure

sudden head shaking, ear flicking, licking lips and paws, twitching hind foot
by: Anonymous

My cat is 9 mos old and started same symptoms last night. Took him to ER and they could not find anything. IF he's not better, I will take him to his regular vet. Please post your outcome and I will as well.

Re head shaking
by: Anonymous

My cat does the same I'm worried sick the vet did not find anything wrong....any improvement with ur cat?

Shaking and twitching head.
by: Anonymous

My fifteen year old healthy cat is doing the same thing. She'll eat a little, then walk away, then the head shaking and twitching begins. She also seems to bite into the air. She seems hungrier than what she can eat. She's losing wieght but is otherwise acting normally.

I took her to the vet and all tests, temperature are normal.

Frustrated and curious.

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