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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 28032
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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My cat of about 8 yrs old all of a sudden started walking

Customer Question

my cat of about 8 yrs old all of a sudden started walking with her head turned sideways and is off balance not sideways but leaning toward the left
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

Idiopathic (unknown cause) vestibular (balance) disease is most commonly diagnosed when peracute (sudden) head tilt and ataxia ("drunken sailor") appears accounting for 43% of cases of peripheral (involving the inner/middle ear(s)) vestibular disease in one report. Clinical signs involve the symptoms you've reported and can be severe with rolling and rapid nystagmus (eyes flicking back and forth) quite evident. There's a higher incidence of this disorder in summer and fall, suggesting an environmental or infectious cause. Prevalence is higher in certain regions of the United States, especially the Northeast.

Although usually acute and nonprogressive in nature, there have been some reports of clinical signs progressing for up to 3 weeks. Signs resolve rapidly without definitive treatment, usually in the first week although some patients may have a persistent head tilt. Diagnosis is by exclusion of other known causes of peripheral vestibular disease. There's no definitive testing nor is there definitive treatment although some cats may require fluid and antiemetic therapy if vomiting arises and doesn't resolve the first day.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.
Hi,
I'm just following up on our conversation about Kitty. How is everything going?
Dr. Michael Salkin

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