Shaking may involve the whole body or only a part such as a paw or the head. During a whole body shake the body is moved rapidly from side to side in a short, quick, almost vibration type movement. The movement usually lasts only a couple of seconds. During a head shake a similar action is seen however the movement involves a degree of rotation of the head, again in alternate directions and very rapidly, no body movement is seen. Paws may be lifted individually to shake and forepaw shakes are more commonly observed. The movement seen during a paw shake is usually performed whilst the cat is standing (or sitting if it’s a forepaw) and is preceded by a forward extension of a forepaw or backward extension of a hind paw. The shaking movement can be likened to a number of flicking movements repeated in quick succession.
The following sequence of photographs shows the movements that comprise a cat shaking itself. Note how the movement begins at the head and moves down the body.