Scratching behind the left ear

by Issai
(Long Island, NY)

In the past 18 months or so, my cat has exhibited a response I've never seen before in a lifetime of living with dozens of cats. When I scratch a certain spot behind her left ear, she starts an involuntary twitch of her left leg. The motion is similar to when cats scratch their own itches, but much more violent and completely involuntary. (If my arm or hand is in the way, she will scratch me badly.) This response appears to be pleasurable to her, since she tries to get me to scratch her "spot" frequently.

I know cats enjoy being petted behind their ears (most do, anyway), but I've never seen this.

I'm guessing I've come across an involuntary neurological response that other cats may share, but since I know next to nothing of cats' nervous system, I don't know what I've triggered or if it is in any way harmful. She is 17, so I'm also wondering if this is something that may have developed with age and inevitable deterioration. She is in generally excellent health, especially for a cat of her age.

Since I have some neurological issues of my own, I've learned that stimulating one spot on the body can have effects on another that aren't entirely obvious. The pinched nerve between C6 and C7 makes the first two fingers of my left hand tingle, for example.) I'm wondering if this is something similar?


RESPONSE:

I have also had numerous cats, 2 that lived into their early twenties, and have not seen this behavior exhibited. It is entirely possible that there is a connection such as you have speculated on, however I have no data on it.

Perhaps one of our readers will share a similar experience.

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