If you’ve ever seen your cat walk in circles around you, you’re probably wondering whether this is normal behaviour or not.
Well, it can be, in some cases, but it can also be a symptom of a medical condition, especially if it happens too often and it is associated with other clinical signs.
Most cats walk in circles to get the attention of their owners.
Whether they want to play or they want a treat, they’ll circle you or try to herd you to where they want to get you.
However, walking in circles in cats can also be a symptom of diseases such as ear infections, vestibular disease, head injuries, senility, or hypertension.
If your cat walks in circles when you get back home after you’ve been away for several hours, the most common reason for this behaviour is that she wants to say ‘hello!’.
In other words, she’s happy to see you. Sometimes, your cat might want to convince you to give her some food or spend some time in bed petting her, so that’s why she’ll walk in circles around you.
Asserting dominance can be another reason, but in that case, you’d also have to see your cat becoming slightly aggressive or at least more jumpy than usual.
In all of these situations, your cat will not appear to be disoriented.
Disorientation is a sign that something is wrong, so a completely healthy cat will occasionally walk in circles but will otherwise be entirely fine.
Health problems that can make cats walk in circles
1. Vestibular disease
In cats, vestibular disease can appear as a result of several different health issues, and they can range from inflammation and bacterial infections to periodontal disease.
Since it can be caused by serious complications such as tumours or polyps, if you see that your cat begins to walk in circles and seems disoriented for 24 hours or so, you have to take her to the vet clinic for a check-up.
The good thing is that vestibular disease almost always resolves on its own, at least in the course of several days.
The primary cause does have to be discovered and eliminated, though, so that’s why your cat needs to be examined by a vet.
Ask a Vet
If your cat has been walking in circles and you are concerned for it’s health then we recommend you speak with a vet ASAP to help you work out what’s going on and what needs to be done. JustAnswer allows you to talk in real-time to veterinary experts for a small fee.
While walking in circles isn’t a specific sign of hypertension, it could be one of the many signs you can see in a cat that has this health problem.
In hypertension, there is too much blood going to the cat’s brain, which makes your cat confused and disoriented.
Some cats can even lose consciousness or show other worrying symptoms, such as muscle tremors or seizures.
3. Ear infections
Ear infections are a remarkably common health problem experienced by both cats and dogs.
Since cats groom their bodies so attentively, they can inadvertently spread the infection from one ear to the other.
The classic symptoms of an ear infection range from scratching and itchiness (particularly visible in mite infections) to redness, swelling, and local inflammation.
Sometimes, it can be so severe that you might see pus or discharge coming out of your cat’s ears — which is definitely not normal.
Left untreated, ear infections can make a cat deaf. In a cat’s body, besides the cerebellum, the internal ear plays a major part in maintaining a cat’s balance.
That’s why those that have ear infections can walk in circles but can also be disoriented, lethargic, or experience nausea as a result of balance issues.
All cats that are older than 15 are predisposed to developing dementia and Feline Cognitive Dysfunction.
Pets that are affected by this condition can walk in circles but can also be generally disoriented or more fearful than usual.
Others can seem confused about their whereabouts or have disproportionate reactions to a variety of stimuli.
5. Head injuries
Concussions can be a probable cause of a cat walking in circles and losing balance.
If you know that your cat jumped out the window and you haven’t seen her hurting her jaw or one of the sides of her head, that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t happened.
Concussions can be fatal and head injuries can leave permanent damage if they aren’t treated in due time.
Take your cat to the veterinary hospital as soon as possible if you suspect that she experienced head trauma.
6. Brain Tumours
The signs of brain tumours in cats can be varied and can include walking in circles, but they are not limited to this symptom.
Cats that have malignant brain tumours, in particular, can be disoriented, often tilt their heads to one side, or may even have seizures from time to time.
If there is a good thing about brain tumours (as good as it can be) in cats, it’s that over 90% of them are benign.
Walking in circles isn’t a specific symptom that your cat has low blood sugar, but it can show up on occasion.
If your cat is hypoglycemic, she may feel confused or might experience muscle tremors.
Hypoglycemia is particularly dangerous for cats that have diabetes as they can slip into a coma.
This health issue can be caused by a poor diet, but it can also be a result of liver or pancreatic disease, intestinal parasites, hypothermia, or very intense exercise.
Healthy adult cats will walk in circles, especially around their owners, so as to get their attention or herd them to a particular place.
Unfortunately, walking in circles can be a symptom of a health problem or complication such as an ear infection, a concussion, or vestibular disease.
Consult your veterinarian if you have any suspicion that your cat might be sick and that’s why she might be walking in circles.