Why Is My Kitten Shaking & Lethargic? Causes and What to Do

Your kitten is shaking, and it’s worrying you. Kittens have less control over their bodies than adult cats, and shaking could be a sign of something minor or a serious health issue. Let’s explore what might be going on and how to help your furry little friend.

Reasons Your Kitten Might Be Shaking

Feeling Cold: Kittens get cold easily because they’re small and can’t regulate their body temperature as well as adult cats. If your home is chilly or your kitten got wet, shivering helps them generate heat.

Fear or Anxiety:  Kittens are easily startled. New environments, loud noises, or unfamiliar people and pets can cause them to tremble in fear.

Excitement: Sometimes a great big world is just too much! Kittens may shake with excitement over playtime, a yummy treat, or just from the sheer joy of being alive.

Pain or Injury:  Shaking can be a sign your kitten is in pain. Check for obvious injuries, but remember internal problems aren’t always visible.

Neurological Problems:  Seizures, tremors, or other neurological disorders can cause involuntary shaking in kittens. These require urgent veterinary attention.

Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia): This is more common in tiny kittens and can be dangerous. Signs include lethargy, weakness, and shaking.

Poisoning or Toxins:  If your kitten has ingested something harmful, shaking might be a symptom, along with vomiting, drooling, or abnormal behavior.

When to Worry: Specific Red Flags

While shaking can be caused by harmless things, some situations require immediate veterinary attention. Call your vet right away if your kitten exhibits any of these signs:

  • Constant or severe shaking, especially if it’s affecting the whole body.
  • Shaking accompanied by lethargy, weakness, or collapse.
  • Shaking paired with vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, or abnormal behavior.
  • High fever or unusually cold body temperature.
  • Seizures or tremors that appear rhythmic or involuntary.
  • Shaking that doesn’t improve after providing warmth or a safe space.
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What Should I Do If My Kitten Is Shaking?

Why Is My Kitten Shaking
Image Credit: LisaValder/istockphoto

Assess the Situation:  Is the shaking constant or intermittent? Localized or all over? Are there other symptoms like vomiting or difficulty breathing?

Warm Them Up (If Needed): If cold is the likely culprit, safely warming your kitten with a blanket, heating pad (on low), or snuggling them close to you can help.

Offer Comfort: If your kitten is scared, provide a safe, calm space to hide. Speak softly and avoid sudden movements.

Monitor and Contact Your Vet: If the shaking continues, if there are other concerning symptoms, or if you’re unsure of the cause, your veterinarian is always your best resource.

First Aid for Kittens (In Case of Emergency):

While a vet visit is the safest course of action, here’s what to do if an emergency occurs:

1. Check for Temperature Changes: Knowing your kitten’s normal temperature helps you spot problems. Use a digital rectal thermometer for pets and compare the reading to the normal range of 97-101°F (37.8°C). Abnormally high or low temperatures require immediate vet attention.

2. Suspect Low Blood Sugar?  If your kitten is lethargic, weak, and seems unresponsive, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) could be the issue. As a temporary emergency measure, try rubbing a tiny bit of honey or sugar water on their gums and contact your vet or emergency clinic right away.

3. Poisoning Concerns? If you suspect your kitten has ingested something harmful, act quickly. Don’t attempt to induce vomiting or give any home remedies. Instead:

  • Gather Information: Try to identify the possible toxin (plant, chemical, medication, etc.) and how much your kitten may have consumed.
  • Get Expert Help: Call a poison control hotline immediately:
    • ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: (888) 426-4435
    • Pet Poison Helpline: (855) 764-7661
    • These hotlines offer expert advice on how to proceed and what to expect.
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Calming a Scared Kitten

New experiences can be overwhelming for kittens. Here are some tips to help them feel safe and secure:

Provide a Quiet, Enclosed Space: Create a cozy hideaway using a cardboard box lined with soft towels.

Use Calming Pheromones:  Synthetic pheromones mimic calming chemicals produced by mother cats. These diffusers or sprays can create a sense of security.

Be Patient and Gentle:  Avoid loud noises or sudden movements. Let your kitten approach you when they’re ready.

Important Things to Remember

Kittens are Fragile: They are more vulnerable to serious health problems than adult cats. Don’t take chances!

When in Doubt, Seek Help: A vet checkup might be the fastest way to calm your own nerves and ensure your kitten is safe and healthy.


Seeing your kitten shake can be alarming. By understanding the possibilities, observing your kitten carefully, and knowing when to call the vet, you’ll be the best advocate for your furry friend’s health and well-being.

The photo featured below the post headline is Credit: millionsjoker/istockphoto

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Frequently Asked Question

My kitten is shaking and lethargic. What should I do?
Call your veterinarian immediately. This could be a sign of a serious problem.

Could my kitten’s shaking be related to vaccinations?
Sometimes, yes. Mild shaking or localized tremors can be a temporary side effect. Consult your vet if you are concerned.

My kitten just ate and is shaking. Is this normal?
Sometimes excitement causes this. If shaking persists after a short time, or other symptoms are present, contact your vet.

Also Read:  Why Does My Cat Keep Throwing Up Her Food? Causes and Solutions

Is it normal for newborn kittens to shake?
Newborn kittens have less developed nervous systems. Some subtle shaking can be normal, but persistent shaking, especially accompanied by lethargy or difficulty nursing, needs a vet’s attention.

My kitten is shaking and hiding, what could be wrong?
This combination suggests fear or illness. Try creating a very safe hiding space, and monitor your kitten closely. If there’s no improvement, a vet check is needed.

My kitten shakes their head a lot, is this normal?
Occasional head shaking is normal for kittens. However, frequent or intense head shaking could indicate ear mites, infection, or a more serious neurological issue. Have your vet check it out.

Why does my kitten shake when purring?
Sometimes very intense purring can cause a slight vibrating sensation that might look like shaking. As long as there are no other concerning symptoms, this is likely harmless.

Can stress cause shaking in kittens?
Absolutely! New situations, loud noises, and changes in routine can all make kittens anxious, sometimes leading to trembling.

My kitten’s back legs are shaking, should I be worried?
Shaking isolated to the back legs could be due to injury, weakness, or neurological problems. A vet consultation is definitely recommended.

Can worms cause kittens to shake?
While not a direct cause of shaking, severe worm infestations can weaken a kitten, potentially leading to shakiness along with other symptoms like lethargy or poor growth.

My kitten is shaking and seems disoriented, what should I do?
This could be a sign of low blood sugar, neurological issues, or poisoning. Seek veterinary help immediately.