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Cher, Feline Specialist
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 21415
Experience:  Feline Healthcare & Behavior Specialist 40+ years Experience
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My cat is suddenly very unstable, walking in circles, and ...

Customer Question

My cat is suddenly very unstable, walking in circles, and pressing her head against walls. Two days ago she was perfectly healthy and active. My vet has recommended that I put her to sleep because she says head pressing is a serious sign and her quality of life can not be restored. Is this true? How can this happen so suddenly? I''m scheduled to have her put down tomorrow morning, but if there is any chance of recovery I want to wait.
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Cher replied 9 years ago.

How old is your cat?

Is she able to eat, drink and eliminate on her own, or with your help?

When she walks, is it crooked, like she's drunk or dizzy?

Does she always press the same side of her head against the wall, or is she pressing the front of her head against the wall?

Did the vet do any blood tests or x-rays?

Thanks for any additional detail.

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Reply to Jessesmom's Post: she is around 14 years old. She is not able to eat, drink, or eliminate on her own...I tried to get her to eat and drink but she doesn't seem to be able to do anything. When she attempts to walk she is very crooked and dizzy, and her eyes are glazed over and look like she is looking out into nothing. It looks like she is pressing the front part of head against walls, and from time to time she frantically tries to climb the wall. They did do blood tests and x-rays but everything is inconclusive...there is a hard mass in her kidney which they originally thought was stool but now suspect is a tumor. there is also a lot of white "stuff" in her chest x-ray, which is unidentified but shouldn't be there. very small increase in white blood cells but not alarming numbers, and her urine is diluted.
Expert:  Cher replied 9 years ago.
Hello again, and thanks for your additional information.

At first, from your description, I thought maybe she had vestibular disease, a condition which affects equilibrium and is neurological in nature. It will cause a cat to walk like a drunkard, and not be able to keep her balance. This might also cause nausea, like when you're sea-sick, or have motion sickness, and this may be causing her lack of appetite. You can ask the vet if this may be a possibility. However, due to all the other symptoms you describe, it's possible that she had a stroke or a blood vessel burst in her brain, causing her glazed over look, and pressing her head against the wall.

If the x-rays revealed a mass in her kidney and her lungs are not clear, plus her urine is not being concentrated, which is probably due to her other physical conditions, she's not in good shape at all. At first, I thought perhaps if it were vestibular disease, it might run it's course with the help of some medication from the vet, to help her feel more comfortable. Then, I thought, perhaps a stroke, which may leave her slightly disabled, but not in pain and still able to enjoy quality of life, but unfortunately, from your description, I'm afraid I'm going to have to agree with the vet.

I know how difficult this is for you, but they say when a cat is no longer enjoying quality of life, which is defined as doing all the everyday things she normally does, then it's time to help her move on, so she's no longer suffering.

I wish I could make this easier for you or give you better news/hope, but due to all the things that seem to be going wrong in her body and perhaps also her brain, in my opinion, it would be best to let her go, peacefully.

My best thoughts and prayers are with you and your furry girl.

Cher and other Cat Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Reply to Jessesmom's Post: Thank you. It just seems like such a hasty decision...I cant help but think I should give it a few more days to see if she comes back, but deep down I know you and my vet are right, and I don't want her to suffer. She has been my companion for 12 years so it breaks my heart to let her go, but I want to do what is best for her. Thanks again.
Expert:  Cher replied 9 years ago.
Hello again, and you're most welcome. Thanks for your accept.

I know exactly where you're coming from, having been faced with the same decision in my many years of having several cats.

You can wait a little bit, and ask the vet if vestibular disease or a stroke may be the cause of her current symptoms, since they came on so suddenly, but if she's not able to eat or drink on her own, you'll have to dropper feed her watered down food and give her fluids, or the vet can give her fluids under the skin, and see how it goes.

If a cat doesn't eat for just a few days, she will develop a serious liver condition called hepatic lipidosis, and if she doesn't drink, she'll become dehydrated.

If you don't want to feel that you're being hasty, ask the vet to prescribe some medication that might make her feel less dizzy and start eating again, then take it from there.