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Cat vestibular disease

Feline Vestibular Disease

The vestibular system in cats is important for it keeps the head and body in the correct position with respect to gravity.

In other words, it is responsible for helping the body balance itself as the nerves in the system alert the brain every time the body performs a series of actions such as standing up, sitting down, taking a spin and so on. With the onset of vestibular disease in cats, the brain becomes unable to recognize any body position that may not be normal. Hence, a correction of the body position does not happen as well.

The onset of the disease is very sudden and vestibular disease in cats is symptomised by an in-coordination of body parts, dizzy spells, falling down frequently, walking drunkenly and stumbling without any obstruction, eyes that move continuously either up and down or side to side, a tilted head and rolling about. These symptoms can scare the owner because they come on suddenly and can be mistaken for a stroke. If these symptoms are noticed, it is important to call a veterinarian immediately and to keep talking to the pet calmly and soothingly.

Every step must be taken to not stress out the cat and to look out for any signs of vomiting or seizures as these indicate an aggravation of the condition.

Vestibular Disease in Cats Treatment

Vestibular disease is of two kinds, peripheral and central. The course of treatment is hence dependant on the type of disease and its cause. The vet is likely to check both ear canals, the tympanic membrane as well as do a blood and urine test and a chemical test. A neurological evaluation is also likely. The tests are done to rule out leukemia, immunodeficiency virus and toxoplasmosis infections. The veterinarian will be able to prescribe a course of treatment after a series of tests and once it starts the animal is likely to improve in about 72 hours to a week. Feeding might be a problem as it would not have gained complete coordination and hence he/she may have to hand fed. It would help to keep the water troughs and litter boxes where it is easily accessible. Antibiotics and drugs for the nausea are likely to be given unless the underlying cause is a tumor or cancer which will then require surgery. Once the cat has recovered, it may still tilt its head towards one side, but this is likely to only be a residual symptom.

  Submitted on April 8, 2010  

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