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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 16268
Experience:  Small animal veterinarian with a special interest in cats, happy to discuss any questions you have.
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My cat was walking sideways and seemed disoriented and fell

Customer Question

My cat was walking sideways and seemed disoriented and fell over onto her side. This lasted for about a minute and now she seems fine. Do you know what this could be?
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 10 months ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you today. I do apologize that your question was not answered before. Different experts come online at various times; I just came online, read about your wee one’s situation, and wanted to help.

Was this the first time Buster every had such an episode?

Did she seem to lose consciousness? Any paddling of her feet, loss of bowel/bladder control, or flicking of her eyes?

Did she just seem weak when she fell over?

Any access to toxins,plants, or human medications?

How has she been otherwise? Any weight, thirst, appetite, or stool changes?

Any breathing changes or are her gums paler/whiter then usual?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
This is the second time it happened, the first being the previous night. There was no flickering of the eyes. She stared walking funny and instead or walking straight, she was veering sideways. Her head was tilted to the side as well. Then she fell over onto her side, she seemed confused and disoriented. When she got up and seemed to normalize, she was standing and appeared to be swaying back and forth but her head was straight at this time. She usually purrs when I rub her neck but she didn't make any noise or rub up against my hand like she usually does. Another thing, I felt a lump on her neck and when I touched it, she bit my hand and swatted at me. She NEVER does that. Both of the episodes lasted 3-5 minutes but she only seemed confused and walked sideways for about 1 minute tops.There is no change to her food or environment and she has absolutely no access to anything poisonous including any medications as I have a toddler and everything is child-proof. Let me know if you need any more information. Thank you!
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Oh and no loss of bladder control or loss of consciousness. She did seem weak when she was on her side on the floor but only for a second. Aside from these episodes that occurred the past two nights, she has been acting normal the past two days. Her appetite seems to be fine and she has been using the litter box.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 10 months ago.

Thank you,

First, I am glad to hear that the house is toddler and cat-proofed since it does mean toxic concerns can be ruled out right off the bat. Now to see her have intermittent periods of wobbliness, head tilting, disorientation and falling; we do have a few concerns.

We can of course see elderly cats become unsteady with arthritis but this coupled with the other signs is more suggestive of a problem involving the middle ear, the vestibular system (organ of balance), and brain. Issues that can affect these respective organs include infection and inflammation, but we can also see these signs with brain bleeds (which can be related to age or elevated blood pressure) and growths putting pressure onto the brain. Just to note, we'd not expect the neck lump to be involved unless it has some communication with the spine. So, less likely but if it is sore (which is why they usually lash out), then we do need to look into this as well.

So, those would be our concerns for her signs. Since they are intermittent and only just starting; I would suggest a non-emergency check-up with her vet. If she is due a booster soon, consider moving that appointment up. Her vet can examine and sample the lump to see if it is an abscess (which can be treated with antibiotics) or something that needs to be removed for her. Otherwise, we'd want them to perform a full neurological examination to help narrow down the root cause for her signs. Depending on those findings, they can advise you on further diagnostics (we sometimes x-ray the middle ear to see what is inside, can test blood pressure at that point if it is suspect, or MRI for brain lesions) or start her on treatment to address the most treatable of our concerns and see if we prevent any more of these episodes for her.

Please take care,

Dr. B.

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Expert:  Dr. B. replied 10 months ago.

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