At some point, you’ve probably seen a picture like it on the Web: a dog or a cat pressing their head against a wall. While it’s tempting, and certainly popular, to anthropomorphize this behavior and imagine that Fluffy and Fido are stressed about bills and work, the truth is much scarier. If your pets do the same thing, don’t take a picture; take them to the vet, STAT, as this article from PetMD explains.

So why is your fur baby pressing their head against the wall? Turns out, the poor little guy is probably in pain and exhibiting a symptom called, simply, “head pressing.” PetMD explains:

Head pressing is a condition characterized by the compulsive act of pressing the head against a wall or other object for no apparent reason. This generally indicates damage to the nervous system, which may result from a number of causes, including prosencephalon disease (in which the forebrain and thalamus parts of the brain are damaged), and some types of toxic poisoning.

This could be any number of neurological disorders, including hydrocephalus (water on the brain), meningitis, encephalitis, stroke, brain tumor, infection, inflammation, and head trauma. Other symptoms include seizures, blindness or visual impairment, irregular reflexes, walking in circles, aimless pacing and other anxious behaviors.

Remember— our pets can’t tell us when they’re sick. It’s our job to pay attention and notice their symptoms and get them the care they can’t ask for themselves. Be sure you’re adding “head pressing” to the list.