Find Out The Reason Why Cats Twitch Their Back When Stroking Them

We bet that your four-legged feline friend continues to bewilder you with its peculiar (but adorable) activities. For instance, you may have noticed that they twitch their backs whenever you pet them.

While the main cause behind this action is the sensitive layer of the Cutaneous 

trunci muscle, excessive twitching may also be a symptom of an underlying illness.

Factors like your cat’s mood, age, and reflexive habits also have a significant role to play here.

Let us go into depth and analyze the different causes behind these behavioral traits in cats. 

Feline Hyperesthesia 

This is among one of the most common causes of twitching. This occurs when the muscles at the back of your cat become hypersensitive, thus causing your cat to experience various twitching episodes whenever you interact with that area. 

Do not worry, though, as this disease is completely treatable with a very low chance of fatality. However, if you see some symptoms, be sure to take your cat to the vet to eradicate the problem before it starts to grow. 

These twitching episodes may last anywhere between a couple of seconds to 2-4 minutes. Most cats twitch only when touched on their back area, but if you notice that your cat has started constantly twitching without being touched or startled, the chances are that it is suffering from this illness. 

Here are some additional symptoms to help you identify this issue : 

  • Tail chasing
  • Self-mutilation 
  • Increased vocalization 
  • Showing restrain/pain when petted 
  • Excessive grooming 
  • Aggressive behavior 

Treatment options include medication trials for itchiness, fleas, and some neurological examinations. Most vets will create a simple behavioral plan to manage aggressiveness better. 

Anti-anxiety drugs, anticonvulsants, and corticosteroids are some commonly used prescriptions. 

Flea Allergy 

A flea infestation might be causing excessive itching and thus leading to twitching. In this case, taking your pet for a grooming session followed by regular combing and hair washes might be a good idea. 

Some theories also suggest that certain breeds are more likely to suffer from twitching issues due to lesions in the muscles. 

Behavioral Cues 

In most cases, light twitching is only a derivative of their behavior and habits. Just like humans, some portions of a cat’s body are more sensitive than others. 

Touching such areas may trigger the whole muscle to twitch. Some experts also suggest that this might be an evolutionary trait developed to keep mosquitos and parasites at bay. 

You might also be familiar with the myriad of body gestures used by your cat to communicate with you. Well, twitching is also one of them. It is an indication of surprise and excitement, similar to how dogs move and roll their legs when you rub their bellies. Other common sources of stimulation may include fear, anticipating food, or getting excited to see their owner. 

It is crucial to note that not all cats are bound to show this trait. Many cats do not have the cutaneous trunci reflex, and that’s perfectly okay. 

Overstimulation Due to Petting 

Your cat’s back might be acting up due to being overstimulated during petting. 

It can also occur due to stress. As a rule of thumb, a typical cat’s lifestyle includes three phases: eat, sleep, prey, and repeat. Any hindrance in this chain may cause your cat to be left unsatisfied. 

For instance, they may twitch when seeing a bird outside a window. They may get restless as they are unable to reach or catch the bird but are drawn away from it, consequently leading to twitching. 

Every cat has a different way of reacting to its surroundings, though. While some agitated cats just twitch, some cats may even show escalated reactions like biting and tail wagging. Given below are some common signs of overstimulation in cats:

  • Tail twitching 
  • Restlessness 
  • Flicking their ears back and forth 
  • Moving their head towards your hand
  • Running away after grooming sessions/during petting


While most cats may seem calm and docile from outside, they all have strange ways of communicating with their owners. 

All the situations mentioned above can be seen with any cat regardless of its age or sex. This is a perfectly normal character trait and is not something that you should worry about unless it is excessive. 

There haven’t been any medical studies on this issue; thus, vets have to mostly rely on behavioral traits visible to the eye. Scanning techniques like MRIs do seem helpful, but definitive diagnosis is still out of the question. 

It is also important to note that your cat may not be acting up due to temper issues but only due to underlying physical or mental health issues. A calm demeanor and loads of love are the best medicine you could possibly administer. 

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