Why Your Cat Is Walking With Their Head Down

Cats are very playful animals. Cats walk with their heads held and can also walk with their heads down.

Cats walk with their heads down due to normal cat behavior like showing signs of submissiveness or asking for attention. They also may have pain, underlying conditions, or diseases.

After owning our cats for 5 years now there’s been a handful of times when they’ve walked around with their heads held low.

It can be rare to see them with this behavior but for other cats it may be more common.

Read on to learn about everyday cat activities that can cause cats to walk with their heads down. Some conditions or diseases do not allow your cat to walk with their head up.

Why A Healthy Cat Walks With His Head Down?

Healthy cats walk with their heads down when they are feeling submissive or feeling the need to be on the defense.

Sometimes cats will have their chins tucked in as well. A cat walking with her head down is showing or communicating with whomever is nearby her submissiveness. This can be shown towards another more aggressive cat or to their owner.

Another reason a cat will walk with their head down when she is approaching, is the desire for affection.

They want to be petted. It’s possible your cat’s favorite spots are behind their ears or towards the top of their neck, so when your cat approaches you, she will walk with her head down. Dropping their head when approaching you can be their way of saying pet me, please.

Why Does A Cat With Neck Pain Walk With His Head Down?

Neck pain in a cat can be caused by trauma or diseases. Any kind of referred pain your cat might be feeling can cause him to walk with his head down as well.

Trauma in or around the area of a cat’s neck can be painful. Cats that jump from too high of a distance can suffer neck pain from landing wrong or just from landing from a height that was too high. Jumping or falling from too high up can cause:

  • Fractures
  • Broken bones

Jumping or landing from a high distance does not mean from the top of a refrigerator or bookcase. It means falling or jumping from a second-floor balcony or jumping through an open window.

When a cat jumps from a height that is too high, it may or may not land on its feet. Even if the cat lands on their feet, they can still suffer from broken bones or vertebrae fractures.

Broken bones or vertebrae fractures can cause a cat to walk with his head down due to overcompensating or trying to avoid the pain.

If one of a cat’s cervical vertebrae gets fractured, this will cause your cat a lot of pain in its neck, and the cat will be unable to keep its head up when walking. Landing wrong from a high distance can cause referred pain up towards the neck as well.

Kittens and older cats can end up with neck pain from heights that a normal healthy cat can be comfortable with due to their bones being more brittle. A kitten’s bones will still be growing, and an older cat’s bones could be weaker due to their bones being more brittle.

Another form of trauma to a cat’s neck can is that the cat may have sustained a cat bite to the neck. This bite can come from another more aggressive cat in the house or another animal outside.

Trauma Treatment For Cats

A visit to your cat’s veterinarian will be the best solution to either of these trauma incidents.

Cats will either have some form of medication, for example, pain medicine or antibiotics, to aid in recovery and help with the healing process. If medication is not an option, your veterinarian may suggest surgery. The best decision for your cat will depend on the choices your veterinarian gives you.

Why Does A Cat With Severe Hypokalemia Walk With His Head Down?

Severe Hypokalemia causes weakness in your cat’s muscles. While this will cause all of your cat’s muscles to eventually get weaker, it will be more noticeable in their neck first. When a cat’s neck muscles become weak, she will not hold her head up when walking.

Severe Hypokalemia is caused when the potassium levels in your cat’s blood drop or are incredibly low. Once a cat gets to a point where she walks with her head down, the potassium levels will be a lot lower than they should be. The next best step in this situation would be taking your cat to the veterinarian.

Primary Hyperaldosteronism And Hypokalemia In Cats

Primary Hyperaldosteronism is an example of an underlying cause of Hypokalemia. Aldosterone is a hormone secreted by your cat’s body to help keep them healthy. Primary Hyperaldosteronism is when amounts of aldosterone that are too high for your cat’s body to process are released into their body.

Kidney Disease And Hypokalemia In Cats

Kidney disease is another example of an underlying cause of Hypokalemia. Cats with kidney disease can also develop low potassium levels in their blood which will then cause Hypokalemia in your cat. If the kidney disease is diagnosed first, the next step will be to prevent Hypokalemia.

Seeking medical treatment from a veterinarian will have the best outcomes for treatment for your cat. Most likely, your cat will be given potassium supplements to add to their diet. Once the potassium levels in your cat’s blood are brought back to normal levels, your cat’s muscles will begin to strengthen. If the potassium supplements your cat is taking do not fully fix your cat’s behavior, your veterinarian will be able to run more tests to see if something else is wrong.

Why A Cat With Vestibular Disease Will Walk With His Head Down

A cat with Vestibular Disease will walk with his head down or at a tilted angle. Vestibular Disease causes your cat to lose his balance or become uncoordinated. When your cat loses his balance or becomes uncoordinated, the ability to keep his head up when walking will become harder. Vestibular Disease can show up as a sign of another disease/condition or can be completely idiopathic.

Other issues that Vestibular Disease can be secondary to are:

  • Infections
  • Tumors
  • Toxicity
    • Causes of toxicity are certain house plants, insecticides, or human medications.

Idiopathic Vestibular Disease occurrence in cats is not fully understood and it can affect cats of all ages. Idiopathic means there is no known reason why your cat has this. Most of the time the onset will happen quickly and can clear up in a short amount of time.

Your cat’s vestibular system is located in the inner ear and helps with your cat’s balance and agility.

Treating your cat for an ear infection is one of the options for Vestibular Disease due to the vestibular system’s location. Another treatment is giving your cat medication for motion sickness. Motion sickness medication can help your cat if there is more of a tilt going on than an actual walking with their head down.

Taking your cat to the veterinarian is the best way to rule out any other conditions that may be showing the same symptoms as Vestibular Disease. This will also help your veterinarian determine how quickly your cat will improve.


 A cat will walk with his head down due to regular cat activities or underlying conditions due to certain diseases.

Feelings of submissiveness, neck pain, severe Hypokalemia, and Vestibular Disease are a few examples. If you start noticing your cat walking with his head down, pay attention to other ways your cat may be acting differently than normal.

If you become concerned it would be in your cat’s best interest to contact his veterinarian.