Why Is My Cat Shaking? 8 Best Reasons

24 Min Read

Has your new furball been shivering like they’re fresh out of the freezer? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. It seems like whenever I look over at my little Luna, she’s doing her impression of a washing machine on a spin cycle. At first, I was seriously worried something was wrong with her. I mean, come on, who’s ever seen a kitten quake like they’re auditioning for a Jennifer Lopez music video?

But after the second vet visit and many late-night Google deep dives, I finally started to get some answers. It turns out shaking is actually pretty normal behavior for babies of feline persuasion. Who knew our fluffballs came pre-programmed with their own mini vibrate function? As any new pet parent knows, those first few weeks are a rollercoaster of questions. You just want to make sure your new addition is happy, healthy, and not about to start developing hypothermia or something.

That’s why I’m sharing what I’ve learned about why kittens tremble, shimmy, and stir-fry like nobody’s business. In this article, I’ll uncover the most common causes behind all that motion, plus tips on what to look out for and how to keep your own fledgling furball feeling all warm and secure inside. By the end, you’ll be an expert on kitten quakes too, and you’ll finally be able to stop googling in a panic every time those early morning zoomies look a little too exaggerated. So grab a mug of something warm and cozy up, because it’s time to solve the mystery of the shaking kitten!

Why Is My Cat Shaking?

Reason #1: Thermoregulation

If your kitten is trembling like they just walked out of the Arctic Circle, there’s a good chance their internal thermostat is still in the Klunk & Blame it on the Frost department. Believe it or not, newborn kittens actually can’t regulate their own body temperature very well at first. Their mama cat did all the work, keeping them toasty and cozy in the little box. But out there in the big wide world without fur mama, they need extra help staying Goldilocks warm—not too hot, not too cold.

That’s where the shakes come in. All that vibrating helps work as their own natural space heater when things start feeling frosty. It’s like their own mini-workout to generate heat from the inside out. Some signs to look out for that could mean your baby bean is feeling a chill are rapid, shallow breathing, seeking out warm spots, or if their ears or paws feel cool to the touch. No kitten wants to be a popsicle!

So to make sure they don’t turn into icicles, it’s our job to keep our surroundings a bit on the toasty side. I like to give Luna her own cozy blankie nest situation surrounded by warmth—either near a heating vent, tucked into the sunniest window nook, or next to a warm water bottle wrapped up so she can’t chew the insulation. A snuggly hot water bottle also does wonders to recharge those tiny batteries. Just remember to check it hourly so it doesn’t get cold on them! Pretty soon, they’ll be fluffy enough to regulate like a pro.

Reason #2: Hunger

Pssst, you guys know what else works up an appetite? All that hard work of regulating your own body temperature, of course! Just like human babies, newborn kittens spend their days eating, sleeping, and perfecting their vibrating features. They need those precious calories to power all that growth, so it’s no surprise that when tiny tummies stargrumbling,ng they’ll show it with a shake.

When little ones get separated from mom too early, their little system can get extra hangry. They’re used to buffet-style round-the-clock mama’s milk service! Without that liquid gold elixir on tap, hunger pangs will have them rattling like snake dice.

The key is making sure they get fed frequently enough. Kittens this young will want a bottle every 2–3 hours around the clock. I like to use a scaled-down kitten milk replacement since it’s formulas provide the complete nutrition babies need. To warm the bottle, I boil some water, then submerge the bottle and watch carefully as it heats up. Test it on your inner wrist—not too hot, not too cold—just right, like goldilocks. Then sit back and enjoy the show as they go to town!

A well-fed kit shakes a whole lot less. So don’t be afraid to handle bottle duties like a champ each feeding. They’ll repay you with roly-poly playtimes instead of quivering in the corner when Tum is empty.

Reason #3: Stress and Anxiety

Ah, stress, the sneaky saboteur of all our furry friends. For kittens, especially, those early weeks are a minefield of new sensations, ready to set off their overactive worrywires. Everything is new and different when they’ve left home, sweet litter box—from unfamiliar people sticking their big ol’ hands all up in their business to weird sounds and scary vacuum cleaners invading their space.

It’s no wonder the heebie jeebies will make their whole bodies shake like leaves. Even things we don’t think about, like separating from their siblings too soon or being left alone overnight, can stimulate the ol’ amygdala. Their nervous system is figuring it all out, so it’s on us to help keep those stress levels low and make them feel safe and secure.

A few things that help our feline babes ease into the world less rattled are keeping them in a calm, quiet space at first. Make sure they have a covered hidey-hole like a cardboard box or soft tunnel to retreat to. Handle them gently, and let them set the pace for cuddles. Talk to them softly to get them used to your voice. And of course, lots of playtime with interactive toys is key to helping burn off excess jitter energy!

Soon they’ll learn people = fun times, not fright times. A less anxious kitten shakes a whole lot less inside and out as they grow more comfortable with their furry selves. Patience was the name of the game in those early days.

Reason #4: Overstimulation

Ever seen a toddler hop up on pixie sticks right before bedtime? Same deal with kittens, except their version of sugar is, well, pretty much everything all at once! Those wee beans get so easily overexcited by all the fun stimuli in their developing worlds.

One minute, they’re all tuckered out from a hard day of naps and pounces. Next thing you know, the mobile is spinning, the feather wand is swishing, and the laser pointer is zipping all around like a maniac. Before you can say “catnip,” they’re in sensory overload, and their little bodies are vibrating more than a phone on silent during an important meeting.

All.That.Input can just be too much for them to process without hitting the pause button. Their systems get stuck on the espresso spin cycle. Signs are full-body trembling, possible spitty bites, or scratching. It’s our job to recognize when they’ve been over-toyed and need a time-out.

For Luna, she shows it by doing the zoomies straight into a wall. Whoops, someone got a bit too cricket for a second! I gently put away the lazer pointer and give her a cozy blanket in her hiding house to destress. A few minutes, and she’s ready to play at a gentler pace again. With experience, we’ll get better at reading her energy levels and not letting it all hype up too high.

Reason #5: Fatigue

Growing kittens may look tiny and adorable, but make no mistake—they pack a whole lot of internal hustle into those pint-sized frames of theirs! From practicing those wobbly baby steps to perfecting their pounce techniques on unsuspecting toes, there’s a lot of energy being burned up in those developing muscles and minds.

All that activity, combined with the hard work of exploring their environments and perfecting social skills, can really take it out of them. By the end of the day, when their batteries start running low, you may notice some shakiness settling in.

For kittens, shaking can sometimes just be their way of showing tiredness. Luna tends to get a bit of a quiver if she’s pushed past her regular afternoon siesta. Those sleepy shakes are different from stressed shaking too; her eyes will be all droopy, like she’s about to pass out standing up!

It’s important to recognize when they’re simply running on fumes, so we can make sure our kittens get plenty of restorative rest. Plopping Luna in her cozy bed with a warm, stuffed toy usually does the trick to wind her down. A few short naps spread throughout the day help keep her energetic without getting too wired. Rest is so important while they’re growing, so don’t forget to factor quality zzz’s into the routine!

Reason #6: Developmental Milestones

Just like human babies, kittens have important milestones as they grow and learn. Hitting some of these developmental leaps can cause tremors as their little bodies adjust. Anyone who’s raised kittens before knows it’s all about the process!

Luna was shakier than normal around 3–4 weeks when she first started opening her eyes and exploring more with her developing senses. All that visual and tactile stimulation was likely a bit overwhelming at first. You could also see her start to get the shakes when attempting her first wobbly steps—it takes some balance to go from crawling to walking on four legs!

Weaning was another phase that brought on more shivers as she adjusted to eating more solid food in her diet versus mama’s milk. Her body had to change how it digests and gets nutrients. It can be an anxious time of big change.

The good news is that developmental shaking tends to pass relatively quickly once they’ve adjusted to more independence or a new skill. Within days Luna was walking better and less shakey eating wet food from a bowl. Sometimes it just takes a little patience through their rites of growing up furry!

Reason #7: Digestion Issues

As the trusty caregiver to my beloved furballs, part of the job is keeping an eye out for any digestion disturbances that could be rattling their systems. After all, what goes in must come out – and when things don’t progress smoothly, it could undermine a kitten’s nerves.

Some potential tummy troubles worth looking out for that may cause the shakes include intestinal parasites like worms. Considering kittens this young haven’t built up strong immunity yet, a parasite infestation could definitely unsettle their tiny tummies. You can catch them early by regularly administering de-wormer drops as recommended by your vet.

Food sensitivities are another possiblity, especially if transitioning between milks. Some kittens are more sensitive to certain proteins or additives in commercial foods. When Luna started shaking not long after eating, switching to a hypoallergenic food solved the problem for her.

Gas, constipation or diarrhea could also cause discomfort prompting the shakes. Massaging their lower belly and maintaining regular potty breaks with stimulating during this transitionary period can help everything run smoothly.

As always, any signs of distress lasting longer than a few hours warrants a quick vet check. But often simple diet or routine tweaks resolve minor tummy troubles for energetic kittens. I hope these tips help yours feel all warm and cozy both inside and out!

Reason #8: Neurological Conditions

While rare in kittens, there are some underlying neurological conditions that can cause tremors or full body shaking as well. As with anything health related, it’s best to check in with your vet if shaking seems unusually severe or accompanied by other odd behaviors.

A few possibilities include tremors, which present as rhythmic muscle contractions signaling issues with the cerebellum or brainstem. Seizures, where a kitten loses awareness during uncontrolled muscle activity, could also cause violent shaking. These would likely be episodic.

Infections like toxoplasmosis that cross the blood-brain barrier are very uncommon in young kittens but theoretically possible. Early symptoms may resemble tremors or seizures.

Fortunately for most kittens, shaking is usually harmless when explained by thermoregulation, hunger, fatigue and other normal factors as discussed earlier. But it’s always better to mention any abnormal neurological signs just in case. Your vet will want to do an exam and may recommend additional testing to rule out underlying causes.

Catching anything serious early means the best chance of treatment. But try not to fret too much unless other worrying behaviors are present too. With supportive care and monitoring, many kittens just grow out of temporary shaking. Your vet is always there as a resource to ease worries.

When to See the Vet

As a kitten caregiver, it’s always better safe than sorry when it comes to their wellbeing. While those temporary jitters might seem like part of their normal process, there are a few signs that warrant a chat with your vet just to rule out anything that needs attention.

Some big red flags include shaking accompanied by:

  • Lethargy, weakness, reluctance to nurse or play
  • Visible distress, crying, panting
  • Stiff limbs or back
  • Loss of coordination
  • Seizures or loss of consciousness

You’ll also want to head in if shaking:

  • Occurs frequently throughout the day
  • Lasts more than 30 minutes continuously
  • Seems to be getting worse over time

Other things like fever, vomiting, or diarrhea elevate things from chill to potential chill. Kittens can go south fast, so it’s always best consulting an expert if worried at all.

The good news is most vets are very used to concerned kitten parents! A quick exam and chat usually eases worries. But it’s always better checking than wondering “what if” later on. I find comfort knowing my vet is just a call away if Luna’s shakes ever seem off-recipe. Here’s to keeping those happy, healthy kittens shakin’ it out in a good way!


What’s a normal amount of shaking?

A little intermittent trembling here and there is completely normal, especially when kittens are first waking up, nursing, playing vigorously, or getting adjusted to a new environment. As long as it’s not frequent or accompanied by other signs of illness, it’s likely nothing to worry about.

My kitten shakes when I hold her. Is that bad?

Some level of shaking when held is not unusual, as kittens are getting used to human interaction. Go slowly, support their whole body, and allow them to wiggle away if distressed. In time, they’ll get more comfortable with gentle soothing. Frequent or violent shakes could mean they feel overstimulated though – try petting versus holding to build up their tolerance.

Can nutritional deficiencies cause shaking?

It’s possible. Kittens relying solely on non-milk foods may lack important vitamins/minerals if the diet is incomplete. I’d recommend working with your vet to transition fully at the right age using a balanced kitten food. You can also try a supplement recommended for nursing mothers if shakes seemed linked to meals.

When should shaking be concerning to me?

See a vet if shaking is very frequent (hourly or more), lasts longer than 30 minutes, gets progressively worse over days rather than improving, or is combined with other worrying symptoms like lethargy, fever or distress. They can examine for underlying causes in rare cases.

What can I do at home for shaking?

Try warming up cold kittens, limiting activity before bedtime, providing quiet hiding spaces, bottle feeding especially hungry babies, regularly deworming, and giving belly massages for digestive issues. Consistency and allowing extra rest often help kittens destress and strengthen. Contact your vet if home remedies don’t seem to make a difference.

My kitten is shaking after vaccination – normal?

Minor shaking for a little bit after vaccines is quite common as their immune system responds to the introduced viruses/bacteria. It usually passes within hours. Watch for any swelling, decreased appetite or lethargy and call your vet if worried. Most kittens bounce right back though!

She shakes after litter box – could she have worms?

Could be normal nerves too, but frequent shaking around potty times may indicate parasites. Kittens can host worms without showing other symptoms. A fecal test from your vet gives a clear answer and deworming protects their health if positive. It’s easier catching early.

How long will developmental shaking last?

This type is usually short lived, often fading within a week as they adjust to new skills. Give extra support through changes. If it persists for more than 2-3 weeks as they learn, double check with your vet in case of an underlying issue masking as milestones.

My kitten shakes when playing rough – is this OK?

Play that gets a little too rowdy could overstimulate them. Gentle swats or running away are normal, but continuous intense trembling means scale it back – try calmer toys, shorter sessions more often to tire them out safely. This prevents associating play with stress too.


Whew, what a journey investigating all the potential whys behind those kitten quakes! I hope this deep dive helped shed some light on why you may catch your own bundles of fluff vibin’ from time to time. While it can be alarming at first, seeing how common and usually benign shaking is gives some comfort.

As long as it’s not paired with other concerning symptoms, those temporary shimmies are likely just your baby adjusting to the big world outside the litter box. Keeping a close eye, providing warmth, nourishment and low-stress cuddles will have them comfy cozy in no time.

Remember – growth isn’t always smooth sailing. Kittens, like toddlers, go through many changes quickly as they learn. Their resilience never ceases to amaze me. With some patience and TLC to get through transition periods, those shakes should taper off.

Before you know it, your own vibrating bundle of joy will be bounding around strong and steady. They’ll take those freshly learned pounce abilities out on my toes at 3am like it’s their job! Enjoy every stage, even if it comes with some extra motor function. Your kitten is right on track to become the perfect purring pal.

Thanks for trusting me with solving the mystery of the shaky kitten. I hope you feel supported in caring for your growing furball – and know when it’s time to check in with a vet. Here’s to raising happy, healthy kittens together! Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I hear Luna gearing up for her evening zoomies…

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