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Dr Pete
Dr Pete, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
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Experience:  Bachelor of Veterinary Science University of Melbourne
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My cat shakes her head and almost falls over. She seems as

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My cat shakes her head and almost falls over. She seems as if she has an inner ear infection?
Hi
Can I ask you some questions fiurst
1. How old is your cat?
2. For how long has this been happening?
3. When she doesn't shake her head can she walk ok....no wobbliness or incoordination?
4. Is she well otherwise?...eating, normal thirst, bright, maintaining her weight?
5. Does she tilt her head to one side?
6. Look into each ear. Is there any discoloueration, discharge or smell?
6. Have a good look at her eyes. Are the pupils moving in a twitching fashion?
Peter
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

My cat is around 11 y.o. We just noticed this within the last day or so. When she shakes her head, she is wobbly and uncoordinated. Sometimes she seems fine. She is eating and taking water. Her head is somewhat tilted.

I haven't looked in her ears, or her eyes. But, I think it is FVS.

Hi
Thanks for that information
She's at the right age for Feline Vestibular Syndrome (FVS). However that condition will usually cause the patient to have continual signs. Usually a tilt of the head and a tendency to fall to that same side or even circle to that side. In the eatrly stages of FVS there can also be nystagmus, a twitching of the eyes and if you see this it is fairly diagnostic. In time the signs usually gradually abate.
However ear infections can also cause similar signs. This can be otitis externa (external ear infection) or otitis media (middle ear infection) or a combination of both. In this case there will often be a head tilt to the affected side but often the patient will be able to walk straight. The incoordination (tumbling over) will tend to happen when the cat flaps the ears or shakes the head as you've described.
Otistis media can produce vestibular signs (as occurs with FVS) but is a totally different problem and requires antibiotics and sometimes corticosteroids.
I feel there's enough evidence here to suggest we may have an infection and so I think she should be assessed by a vet so appropriate medication can be prescribed. Middle ear infections can advance quickly and be quite difficult to treat if left for too long.
I hope I have been of some help.
Regards, Peter
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