Why does my cat lean her head against the wall

Cat with dilated pupils

Cats are experts at hiding pain. They do it so well that often when we realize that something bad is happening to them the disease has already advanced a lot, enough for the treatment to be longer than it would have been if we had been able to detect the problem earlier. So, if they start to lean their head against the wall we have to worry and take them to the vet as soon as possible.

So if you're wondering why my cat rests her head against the wall, Then I will explain everything you need to know about this topic.

Cat with head against the ground

El head pressing, as it is known in English, is the compulsive act that animals have when pressing their head against a wall or other hard surface for long periods of time. This attitude, which may even seem sympathetic to us, hides a very serious problem: you may have a damaged nervous system or a neurological disease such as cancer. The most common causes are:

  • Blow to the head
  • Tumors
  • Liver deviation
  • Cerebrovascular accident
  • Hepatic encephalopathy (metabolic disorder that occurs as a result of liver disease)
  • Nervous system infection, such as parasites, bacterial, viral or fungal infection, rabies)
  • Toxic poisoning

It should not be confused with the affectionate behavior that the cat has when it rubs its head against a living being. In fact, in addition to pressing his head against the wall or other hard place, we will see that it has other symptoms that are: seizures, visual problems, walking in circles, standing still looking at a wall or in a corner, pressing your face against the ground or earth.

If we suspect that our cat may have a problem, we must not hesitate for a moment: we must take him to the vet as soon as possible.

It is not the same as sleeping on your stomach

A cat can sleep on its stomach and that does not mean that it has a serious health problem, far from it. It can be totally normal behavior and there is no need to worry. Some cats are more comfortable sleeping this way.

When it comes to head pressing, you will see your cat doing this against walls while sitting up and awake. They will press their head against something, without relaxing.  Know your cat's behavior and when to be concerned, and be aware that this can happen at any age. 

Seek medical help for your cat if he is sleeping / sitting like this with diet changes (eat less / more), disoriented behavior, walking in circles, walking on walls, drooling suddenly, crying when picked up, and depression. Although below we are going to detail more the symptoms, causes and behavior that may concern you.

It is normal for you to worry

Sleeping cat

Known as one of the most worrisome behaviors an animal can perform, head pressing on cats can be a serious concern for any owner of this pet.

Head pressing is the act of a cat pressing its head against a wall or other hard object. Unlike when cats rub their heads against you to show affection, head pressing occurs for no apparent reason and could indicate a serious health problem. In this guide, we've shared how you can detect abnormal head pressure and how to investigate whether or not your cat is suffering from a serious health complication.


Pressing the head is just one sign of forebrain disease, in which parts of the forebrain and thalamus are affected. Other symptoms that can accompany this include compulsive stimulation and circles, changes in learned (trained) behavior, seizures, impaired reflexes, and visual problems.

Some of these symptoms can lead to injuries, for example foot sores as a result of compulsive pacing or head / face injuries as a result of pressing the head against a surface for long periods of time.

Causes of head pressing in cats

Cats sometimes press their head against something

In general, head pressure in cats occurs when there is a problem with their brain or nervous system. In addition to those mentioned above, These are the most common causes of why your cat may be performing the behavior:

Infectious diseases

Infectious diseases like rabies can cause cats to press their heads against the wall. Fungal and parasitic infections can also be the problem. If you see your cat doing this, it is best to take him to the vet right away.

Brain tumors

While this is one of the most worrisome health complications your cat could have, it is essential that a veterinarian check it out immediately. as pressing on the head could be a symptom of a brain tumor. Known as primary tumors when they occur in the brain, secondary tumors can develop throughout the body if they are not diagnosed and treated quickly.


Your cat can also press its head against the wall if it has suffered from poisoning. This could be the result of overexposure to alcohol, chemicals, or a reaction to toxins within insecticides that are around you when venturing outdoors.

Cats can also press their head against things if they are recovering from anesthesiaalthough this is usually temporary and is not usually a cause for great concern.

Metabolic disorders

Hypoglycemia is a metabolic disorder that occurs when a cat does not have enough glucose or sugar in its body. This results in low energy levels and can be extremely dangerous, and can often be recognized as the cause behind head pressure in cats.

Other symptoms to watch out for

Because head pressing can be a symptom of a serious illness, you may notice that your feline friend is displaying other symptoms. Some of the most common that are aligned with pressing the head are:

  • Frequent meows
  • Compulsive circulation and / or stimulation
  • Disorientation
  • Seizures
  • Dilated pupils and other vision problems

Is it dangerous to press the head in cats?

Because head pressure often occurs for no apparent reason, it is usually a serious sign that something is wrong with your cat and you should see your vet as soon as possible. You may need to make an emergency appointment with your vet so that he can test your cat's blood pressure, take a urine sample, and examine his eyes. This will help diagnose any health problems you may be suffering from. and it will allow them to obtain the best treatment for their diagnosis.

Treatment for this behavior

If you have noticed that your cat exhibits pressure behavior on the head, it is important, as we have indicated above, visit your vet immediately to determine the underlying cause of the problem.

Head pressing is the compulsive act of pressing the head against a wall or other surface without rest, for no apparent reason. Head pressing is generally a sign of nervous system damage, which can be the result of a number of underlying problems.

The most appropriate treatment in each case will depend on the reason that causes it and what the veterinarian considers. Although usually it is usually finished with medications, diet surgery. The method of treatment for this behavior depends on the veterinarian's diagnosis of the underlying cause of the behavior. Treatment should not be done until a diagnosis has been made.

What to Expect at the Veterinarian's Office

Take care of your cat

Next we are going to explain in detail what the vet will do when you take your cat to his consultation due to this problem that worries you so much.

To determine the underlying cause of the head pressing behavior, your vet will likely perform a fundic examination of the retina. (the layer of the eye that receives and processes images) and other structures at the back of the eye. This can reveal irregularities in the brain or infectious or inflammatory diseases.

Other useful tests include blood pressure measurements (the amount of pressure applied by the blood in the arteries) to determine if your cat has high blood pressure and CT scan or MRI scans of the brain.

Your vet will also perform a blood test and urinalysis., which could reveal a problem with the metabolic system or help determine if there are toxins in the system.

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  1.   Roxana said

    Hello, my name is Roxana, I have two cats, Nano and Nina, and I have a query. My kitten Nina does not put her head against the wall, but when she lies down, whether on the cushion on the floor or on the sofa, she faces the wall (or the back of the sofa, etc.) and stays that way for a long time. it changes if I caress it. Is that just a mania, or can it also be a compulsive behavior?
    Thanks in advance.

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hi Roxana.
      No, that's nothing.
      Cats like to sleep with their heads and backs "covered." It is a way to sleep more peacefully.
      A greeting.

  2.   Natalia said

    Hello, I have a query, I have my cat who has always sleeps for long periods of time with his head down, whether he is leaning on the armchair, a chair, ect at first we thought it was funny but I am worried he does it often apart, it is fine but suddenly he starts screaming only

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hello Natalia.
      It may be that you are developing a disease. Just in case, it would be highly recommended to take him to the vet.
      Greetings and encouragement.


    Hi! thanks for the info. My cat has not taken exams but in visits to the vet they always tell us that they see her very well and she also looks very good with her 15 years. He has always supported his head with the kitten in the photo, he does it from time to time on the beds and armchairs. Another grace that it does is that from that position more to hide its entire head between the legs it is completely like a ball it is not distinguished where it is if its tail or its head. He has done it for many years now, it is something common but not often, as I said, from time to time he does it and for a short period within his naps. I have doubts because the position is very strange and striking, but at the same time she looks very good and she has been in that position for a long time without changing her behavior or habits.

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hello Fernanda.

      If the cat is well and leads a normal life, in principle nothing bad would happen. Cats take very curious postures sometimes.

      However, if you have doubts, it is best to consult your vet.


  4.   Nichel said

    Good! Thank you very much for the article; knowledge always helps. I observe the kitten that lives with me a lot, Azul.

    Well, my little companion Azul (common European cat) has been SLEEPING for a few days with her head glued to the couch. She only performs this behavior when she sleeps (actually, she does it in the middle of rest, when she "wakes up" (without opening her eyes, she changes position, but I know she is awake because of her ears or breathing) and supports her forehead.

    Should I be worry?

    Thank you very much in advance and congratulations on the web.

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hello Níchel.

      No, do not worry. There are cats that adopt curious postures at bedtime. You probably feel better that way, next to the couch.

      But if in doubt, consult a vet.