The put up Neurological Disorders in Cats: Our Vet Explains Signs, Causes & Treatments by Dr. Karyn Kanowski BVSc MRCVS (Veterinarian) appeared first on Catster. Copying over total articles infringes on copyright legal guidelines. You might not be conscious of it, however all of those articles have been assigned, contracted and paid for, so they are not thought-about public area. However, we respect that you simply just like the article and would find it irresistible in case you continued sharing simply the primary paragraph of an article, then linking out to the remainder of the piece on

Feline Neurological Disease Overview
Most Common Forms of Neurological Disorders

It’s actually scary when our pets turn out to be sick, notably after they’re not appearing like their regular selves. Often, one of many first indicators that there’s one thing fallacious with our cat is that they appear quiet, torpid, or attempt to cover. These kinds of indicators can happen with many alternative points, from a fever to one thing extra severe. But what if their persona adjustments, or they’ve problem strolling, and even begin having seizures? These could be indicators of a neurological downside and want fast veterinary consideration.

There are a number of causes of neurological illness in cats: an infection, trauma, congenital issues, and most cancers, to call a number of. Let’s take a better take a look at the neurological issues that have an effect on cats to study what indicators to be careful for, and the way these issues could be handled.

Understanding Feline Neurological Disease

Cat sitting on a vet metal tableImage Credit: Tyler Olson, Shutterstock

As we all know, the nervous system is extraordinarily complicated and is accountable for controlling each different side of organic perform, from primary reflexes, motion and coordination, hormones, digestion, respiration, pondering—every part! So, when one thing goes fallacious with this technique, the outcomes could be catastrophic.

Because there are such a lot of completely different ways in which a neurological dysfunction can current, a radical historical past is important, together with what kind of indicators you have got seen, how lengthy they’ve been occurring, and some other adjustments which were seen. The location, kind, and length of scientific indicators may give us an enormous quantity of knowledge.

  • HOW the neurological system is being broken can dictate what kind of indicators we may even see. For instance, an an infection could produce different scientific indicators alongside these brought on by the neurological dysfunction, resembling discharge from the eyes, nostril, or ears, whereas a situation resembling epilepsy will solely lead to seizures.
  • WHERE within the physique the issue is will decide what results it is going to have. For instance, an damage or tumor within the backbone could trigger weak point, incoordination, or paralysis within the limbs, however not have an effect on mind perform, whereas an issue within the mind can affect all or any bodily capabilities.
  • Knowing WHEN the scientific indicators began will assist give us an concept of what kind of sickness or dysfunction we’re coping with. For instance, a cat with a congenital neurological dysfunction is more likely to have been displaying from a younger age or since delivery. Neurological adjustments resulting from an infection could take days to weeks to seem, whereas indicators brought on by a tumor or age will are likely to have an effect on older cats, with indicators showing over weeks or months.

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What Are the Most Common Forms of Neurological Disorders in Cats?

Now that we’ve a greater understanding of methods to strategy neurological illness, let’s check out some examples of issues in cats.

1. Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)

You may be questioning how peritonitis matches into neurological issues, and it’s a deceptive label. FIP is a viral an infection brought on by a pressure of Feline Coronavirus, a household of viruses that trigger quite a lot of respiratory and gastrointestinal ailments in people, together with COVID-19, SARS, and MERS.

Feline coronavirus is comparatively frequent amongst cats, notably these dwelling in high-density feline populations or multi-cat households. It is shed within the feces and simply picked up by different cats in a shared setting, and within the majority of instances, is asymptomatic. If a cat turns into unwell or immunocompromised, is contaminated by one other virus (resembling feline leukemia virus), or is mostly ill and situation, the virus can mutate into an energetic kind which, in nearly all instances, is deadly.

The commonest presentation of FIP in cats is one which produces fluid buildup within the physique (effusion), notably throughout the peritoneal cavity, or stomach. This can be known as “wet” FIP, as a result of effusions it causes. The second kind creates little or no effusion, so is known as “dry” FIP, though each types can happen concurrently.

Dry FIP can have an effect on quite a few organ techniques, most notably, the eyes and nervous system. The virus could trigger painful irritation, an infection, and bleeding within the eyes. As it reaches the mind, this irritation will trigger despair, persona adjustments, seizures, ataxia (wobbly, unstable strolling), coma, and loss of life.

Most instances of energetic FIP are seen in cats beneath the age of two years previous; nonetheless, the virus can stay dormant for years and be activated at any age. Clinical indicators of the virus are likely to progress quickly, over the course of days/weeks.


Until as just lately as 2022, FIP was invariably deadly. In the wake of Covid-19, the drug Remdesivir, has proven promising ends in the efficient remedy of feline coronavirus. However, value and availability are limiting its use in veterinary observe. Remdesivir is presently solely out there in Australia and the United Kingdom, with the common value of a remedy course being round £5,000 (US $6,250).


There is an FIP vaccine out there within the US, however its effectiveness has not been confirmed, and its use isn’t really useful by the American Association of Feline Practitioners Feline Vaccine Advisory Panel.

Although it’s nearly not possible to fully forestall an infection with feline coronavirus, the best technique towards FIP is optimizing your cat’s immune system by feeding them a high-quality weight loss plan, holding updated with routine vaccination and parasite remedy, and sustaining good litter field hygiene.

2. Otitis

stray cat with infectious ear dischargeImage Credit: RJ22,Shutterstock

Ear infections can typically set off reactions that seem like neurological indicators, however they’ll additionally trigger true neurological issues. If a cat has an an infection to the outer a part of the ear (otitis externa), they could tilt their head due to the ache and irritation within the ear, however this isn’t a neurological head tilt.

If an infection reaches the center ear (otitis media) or inside ear (otitis interna), irritation of the facial nerves, causes Horner’s Syndrome or disruption of the vestibular system. Signs of vestibular illness embody ataxia, circling, head tilt, and a speedy flickering of the eyes, known as nystagmus.

In extreme instances, an infection and irritation can journey up the nerves towards the mind, which might trigger extra extreme neurological indicators like despair, behavioral adjustments, and seizures.

Neurological indicators related to otitis can seem over a matter of hours however will often be preceded by indicators of discomfort and irritation of the ear. Cats which have had repeated episodes of otitis externa are at a higher danger of growing otitis media or interna, as are cats that endure from ear polyps.


Treatment of otitis could contain ear drops, oral antibiotics, and steroids. Your vet will seemingly take swabs of the an infection for tradition and sensitivity to make sure the proper antibiotics are chosen, and instances that don’t reply to conservative remedy may have CT scans to additional diagnose and deal with the issue.

In most instances, the prognosis is favorable, supplied that there isn’t any everlasting harm to the nerves.

3. Neoplasia (Cancer)

Brain and spinal wire tumors are, fortuitously, not frequent in cats, and barely seen in cats youthful than 10 years previous. The scientific indicators produced by tumors affecting the mind and spinal wire will rely very a lot on the place the tumor is situated, the kind of tumor, and the way shortly it’s rising.

Some tumors are benign, which means that they could be rising for a very long time (months to years) earlier than any scientific indicators are seen, whereas malignant tumors will invade different tissues. Malignant tumors in different elements of the physique might also unfold (metastasize) to the mind.

One of the commonest scientific indicators of mind tumors is seizures, with adjustments in persona, lethargy, despair, ataxia, head tilt, nystagmus, and inappetence additionally being frequent indicators.

Tumors situated within the spinal wire will most frequently lead to weak point, tremors, or paralysis of limbs, and might also trigger urinary or fecal incontinence.


Options for the remedy of mind or spinal tumors in cats are sometimes restricted, not solely by the anatomy concerned however the associated fee and unwanted effects of that remedy. Depending on the sort and placement of the tumor, remedy could contain surgical procedure, radiation remedy, or medical administration of scientific indicators, notably the place seizures are concerned. Prognosis is subsequently fairly guarded.

In most instances, the prognosis is favorable, supplied that there isn’t any everlasting harm to the nerves.

4. Epilepsy/Seizures

woman brought her maine coon cat to the vetImage Credit: Gorodenkoff, Shutterstock
In cats, as with people, seizures can typically positioned in one among three classes:

  • Genetic/idiopathic seizures (AKA epilepsy)
  • Secondary (structural) seizures: brought on by mind tumors, ailments immediately affecting mind tissue (intracranial illness).
  • Reactive seizures: brought on by irritation, toxins, fever, and so on. exterior the mind (extracranial illness).

Epilepsy first seems in cats youthful than 7 years previous, and the cat is totally regular in between seizures. It is kind of frequent for cats with epilepsy to have intervals of a number of months between seizures, however the frequency tends to extend over time. Compared with canines, cats usually tend to endure from partial (focal) seizures, the place elements of the physique could exhibit seizure exercise, with no lack of consciousness.

Accurate prognosis of epilepsy requires a variety of diagnostic assessments to rule out extracranial and intracranial causes of seizures, resembling bloodwork, ultrasound, and CT scans. It isn’t unusual for epilepsy to be excluded as a prognosis if the seizures emerge after the age of 10–12 years previous, or are accompanied by some other neurological indicators.


In the case of secondary or reactive seizures, remedy (and success of remedy) will rely on the underlying trigger. The remedy of feline epilepsy will often contain the usage of anti-epileptic treatment however might not be initiated until/till the seizures are frequent and/or extreme. The prognosis for cats with epilepsy relies on their response to therapeutic remedy.

5. Cerebellar Hypoplasia

Although there are a lot of congenital neurological issues in cats, cerebellar hypoplasia is the commonest one which will permit long-term survival. Sometimes known as “wobbly” or “clumsy,” kittens with cerebellar hypoplasia are affected from delivery, with scientific indicators turning into extra noticeable because the kitten turns into extra energetic.

If a feminine cat is contaminated with the Panleukopenia Virus (often known as feline distemper virus) throughout being pregnant, the virus can stunt the event of the cerebellum within the unborn kitten. The cerebellum is accountable for coordinating motor perform with mind perform, so cats with cerebellar hypoplasia may have various ranges of ataxia, incoordination, and stability issues, relying on the extent of the dysfunction.


There isn’t any remedy for the situation, and in lots of instances, the kittens are euthanized on humane grounds. However, with persistence, perseverance, and help, it’s potential for some kittens to beat this dysfunction and revel in high quality of life.

6.  Trauma

domestic cat with bandage on its headImage Credit: YuSafa, Shutterstock

Road site visitors accidents are the commonest explanation for trauma-induced neurological dysfunction. The scientific indicators seen will rely on the sort, location, and severity of the damage sustained, and could also be everlasting or short-term.

The three mostly encountered traumatic neurological issues seen in veterinary observe contain:

  • Pelvic/spinal accidents
  • Tail pull accidents
  • Head trauma

7. Feline Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS)

Also often known as feline senile dementia, CDS is comparatively frequent in geriatric cats. It presents in many alternative methods, together with minor persona adjustments, inappropriate toileting, new/modified habits, or “vacant” conduct.

As many of those indicators can be linked to frequent geriatric issues, resembling renal illness, cystitis, hyperthyroidism, or arthritis, it’s vital to carry your cat in for a well being test earlier than dismissing any of those adjustments as simply “old age.”


Treatment for CDS is restricted, simply because it sadly is for people. However, there are a number of dietary supplements and medical therapies out there to assist enhance cognitive perform in cats, so speak to your vet in case you assume your aged cat may want a serving to hand of their twilight years.

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As you may see, neurological issues in cats are nearly as quite a few and complicated because the nervous system itself. Being an integral a part of all bodily capabilities, any harm, illness, or dysfunction of the neurological system can have results anyplace within the physique.

Cats are extremely resilient creatures, which is why they’re usually stated to have 9 lives. However, they’re nonetheless inclined to an infection, harm, and illness, and even minor issues can turn out to be catastrophic as soon as the nervous system turns into concerned.

If you discover any adjustments in your cat’s conduct, persona, actions, or posture, don’t hesitate to get in contact along with your veterinarian.




Featured Image Credit: Official, Shutterstock

The put up Neurological Disorders in Cats: Our Vet Explains Signs, Causes & Treatments by Dr. Karyn Kanowski BVSc MRCVS (Veterinarian) appeared first on Catster. Copying over total articles infringes on copyright legal guidelines. You might not be conscious of it, however all of those articles have been assigned, contracted and paid for, so they are not thought-about public area. However, we respect that you simply just like the article and would find it irresistible in case you continued sharing simply the primary paragraph of an article, then linking out to the remainder of the piece on

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