Neurological Disorder in Cats: A Helpful Guide

Is your cat displaying abnormal symptoms, but you aren’t quite sure what is causing them? A neurological disorder in cats can lead to an array of symptoms that can progress swiftly and affect some of your cat’s most vital bodily processes. Whether it is affecting a human being or a cat, a neurological disorder can be frightening and perplexing. The brain is extremely complex and controls the cat’s ability to breathe, move, respond, and more.

If you think that your cat may be suffering from a neurological disorder, but aren’t sure what symptoms to look for or the different types of neurological disorders in cats, you’re not alone. As a pet owner, it’s helpful to arm yourself with the foundational knowledge needed to recognize that there is an issue so that you can get your cat the help he needs as quickly as possible. Below is an introductory guide to neurological disorders in cats. This article will break down what symptoms to keep an eye out for, some of the types of nervous system disorders, and the basics on diagnosing neurological disorders in cats.

What Is a Neurological Disorder?

Have you heard of neurological disorder in cats, but aren’t quite sure what that means? Neurological disorders affect a cat’s nervous system, which is made up of several different components. The peripheral nervous system is the spinal, cranial, and other nerves and muscles in the body. The central nervous system, on the other hand, is made up of the spinal cord and the brain. The autonomic nervous system is the neurons in your cat’s body that direct the organs to work, such as for the heart to pump blood out to the rest of the body. When you look at these three distinct and vital components of a cat’s body, it’s easy to see why neurological disorders can be extremely serious.

The feline nervous system controls a cat’s ability to do many basic functions, such as being able to walk and open his mouth to eat. Just as with human beings, neurological disorders can affect various aspects of the nervous system, which determines the symptoms that neurological disorder will present. For example, a neurological disorder that targets the cat’s central nervous system may present differently than one that affects his peripheral nervous system. When it comes to neurological disorders in cats, back legs could be experiencing paralysis or the cat could have lost his vision, it depends on what part of the nervous system is being affected. Because of this, it is vital to be vigilant about tracking your cat’s symptoms if you suspect he may be suffering from a neurological disorder. By doing so, you will enable your veterinarian to be able to have accurate information and a timeline of the onset of symptoms to use to base their diagnosis on. In order to make sure your cat gets veterinary attention quickly, it is useful to know the common symptoms of a neurological disorder in cats.

Symptoms of a Feline Neurological Disorder

Knowing what symptoms to keep an eye out for will allow you to get your cat medical attention and the treatment he needs. As mentioned above, your cat may only be experiencing one or a few of these symptoms since the signs vary depending on the type of neurological disorder and what parts of the nervous system it affects. Below is a compilation of symptoms of various brain disorders in cats to help you know what to look for.

  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Loss of balance
  • Blindness
  • Pacing
  • Coma
  • Lack of coordination
  • Hyperactive reflexes
  • Weakness
  • Stupor
  • Walking in circles
  • Loss of sense of smell
  • Paralysis of the face, limbs, or body
  • Muscle twitching
  • Abnormally rapid eye movements (nystagmus)
  • Disorientation
  • Confusion

If you see your cat displaying any of the symptoms above, it is important to call your veterinarian and make an appointment for a full physical examination as soon as possible. These symptoms could be signs that your cat is suffering from a neurological disorder, which can be terrifying and uncomfortable. Once you take your cat to the veterinarian, they will be able to do any necessary tests once they have examined your cat and taken a medical history in order to form a diagnosis. To diagnose your cat, the veterinarian will need to determine what type of feline neurological disorder he is suffering from.

Types of Feline Neurological Disorders

There are many different types of neurological disorders in cats that could be the potential culprit of the symptoms you have observed. Neurological disorders in cats can be congenital, meaning that they are born with a neurological problem, or can be infectious, which is when a cat becomes infected with a virus or disease that causes the neurological disorder to develop. Cats can also develop neurological disorders from trauma, such as being hit by a car or from aging. No matter what category the neurological disorder falls into, it is vital to get an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible so that your cat can begin receiving treatment. Below are a handful of different types of feline neurological disorders as well as a brief description of each disorder.

Epilepsy and Seizures

Did you know that cats can also suffer from epilepsy and seizures just like their human counterparts? Feline epilepsy can stem from an injury, such as a significant trauma to the brain, tumors, or metabolic irregularities, but in some cases, veterinarians are not able to determine why a cat is epileptic. In these instances, it is referred to as idiopathic epilepsy. When a cat is epileptic, his brain is not able to transmit nerve signals within his cerebral cortex, which is the part of the brain that controls a cat’s voluntary muscle movement, as well as the memory, thoughts, and sensations. If a cat is diagnosed with epilepsy, a veterinarian will use medication to attempt to reduce the frequency and severity of the seizures.

Meningitis and Encephalitis

Meningitis and encephalitis are two very serious brain conditions. Meningitis is when the membrane that surrounds the spinal cord and covers the brain becomes inflamed. Encephalitis, on the other hand, is when the brain becomes inflamed. What causes these two dangerous neurological conditions to develop? These brain conditions are often caused by infection, which can be parasitic, viral, fungal, or bacterial. When these conditions occur at the same time it is called meningoencephalitis. If a cat is diagnosed with one or both of these neurological conditions, a veterinarian may utilize corticosteroids to help lessen the inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord, the brain, or both. In addition to the use of corticosteroids, a veterinarian may also prescribe antifungals, antiparasitic, or antibiotics in order to fight off the infection that causes meningitis and/or encephalitis to develop. As the cat is undergoing treatment, he may also be given medication to help control his pain, fluids to keep him hydrated, and nutritional supplements to maintain vital nutrient levels.

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