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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 28936
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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I think my cat is having strokes. She's 17, and occasionally

Customer Question

I think my cat is having strokes. She's 17, and occasionally falls down to one side out of nowhere and can't regain her balance for a time. She just keeps rolling to the one side. She's on a special kidney diet, and we've recently been adding fish oil because she's lost some weight. She otherwise seems herself and doesn't seem to be in pain. I would take her to the vet, but her whole life it's been incredibly stressful to do so. She goes into fight mode and becomes combative and wild almost, won't let anyone near her. I usually end up bleeding, and both of us end up physically and emotionally drained. She's so old now, I'd hate to put her through that if I don't have to... I'm honestly afraid she'll die or be further weakened from the stress. Is there anything I can do??
Submitted: 12 months ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 12 months ago.

Claire, I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. If Punkin is suffering strokes we would ordinarily investigate for underlying disorders causing those strokes and then treat the disorders. Hypertension is the most common cause of strokes in elderly cats and may be primary and idiopathic (unknown cause) or be found concomitant with hyperthyroidism, chronic renal insufficiency, advanced cardiopulmonary disorders, and quite a few other metabolic disorders in elderly cats. I understand your constraints and it's not unreasonable to hospice such a cat rather than stress her further with examinations and therapy. Unfortunately, no, there's nothing of value for you to do barring keeping her comfortable and loving her. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Customer: replied 12 months ago.
Thank you for your detailed answer. I guess my primary concern is, is she in pain when this happens? And what sort of diagnostic tests are generally done to determine cause? When I discussed her weight loss with the vet, she mentioned the possibility of a thyroid disorder (though I realize it could simply be her age)... does diagnosing that come down to a simple blood test? I just don't want her to be in pain. She still eats, drinks, goes about her daily business, and is her usual curious self. Would your recommendation be to just keep her home and not stress her with testing? I just want her to be happy, and not to be hurting
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 12 months ago.

Strokes are associated with a change in mentation (mental status) which should preclude pain sensation but I imagine that headache might precede a stroke. Diagnostics involve blood and urine tests - a senior/geriatric diagnostic panel is most cost-effective. Hyperthyroid cats are most often polyphagic (increased hunger) but losing weight, 35% of hyperthyroid cats are also polydipsic (increased thirst), more active than you expect a 17 year old to be, and may suffer GI distress more often than a much younger cat - vomtiing, mainly. I would prefer that she be tested but not if handling her is going to be detrimental to her health. Please continue our conversation if you wish.

Customer: replied 12 months ago.
Thank you very much. You've given me a lot to think about. Perhaps I'll discuss the possibility of a home visit with her vet. I appreciate your thorough answers, you've been very helpful!
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 12 months ago.

You're quite welcome. I like the idea of a housecall! I can't set a follow-up in this venue so please return to our conversation - even after rating - with an update at your convenience. You can bookmark this page for ease of return.

Customer: replied 12 months ago.
Wonderful, I will do that! Thank you again!
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 12 months ago.

It's my pleasure.

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