Referred to as cerebrovascular accident, strokes are a prevalent medical condition affecting your feline friends.The most common reason of strokes in cats is a sudden reduction in the supply of oxygen to the brain which causes damage to the brain cells. This type of stroke is referred to as an ischemic stroke.
In addition to this, strokes can also be caused by bleeding in the brain, which are known as hemorrhagic strokes. With the disruption of the blood supply to the brain, the brain functions are hampered, and parts of the cat's brain might also be destroyed. This can lead to the occurrence of stroke symptoms in cats and kittens.
8 Stroke Symptoms You Should Look Out For
Head Tilting: If you observe the cat walking with its head tilted at an odd angle, often towards one side, then it might indicate a stroke. The cat may also move its head from one side to the other. This is usually caused due to the muscle weakness and can last for a few weeks after the stroke has occurred.
Loss of Balance: Your usually agile and light-footed cat would suddenly become quite clumsy. Tipsiness, losing balance, staggering, and falling are some of the obvious signals that your cat has suffered a stroke. You might also see it walking quite slowly and circling uncontrollably around a place.
Ataxia: The loss of the control of the muscles due to the stroke can cause ataxia in cats. This would result in the cat not being able to carry on with its normal routine. This is often accompanied with weakness in the legs.
Temporary Blindness: Cats may also suffer from temporary blindness. You might find it bumping into things, startling easily, and having trouble finding food and water dishes. However, unless you monitor your cat quite closely, blindness is not quite apparent in the cat as it has other strong sense organs to aid it.
Behavioral Changes: There is a significant change in the cat behavior and personality after suffering from a stroke. You might find it confused and easily frightened by activity or other people. It might also shun the owners and other pets at home.
Lethargy: Your usually active cat would suddenly become quite lethargic and look exhausted. It would also stop paying heed to all those things which would previously attract its attention.
Loss of Appetite: Due to the weakness of the facial muscles, it might be difficult for the cat to chew properly and the food may fall out while eating. The weakness of the throat muscles can make it difficult for the cat to swallow food, thus resulting in gagging and choking.
Sudden Loss of Bowels: A portion of the abdominal muscles could also be affected by the stroke. This would result in a sudden loss of bowels without even realizing it or struggling to pass stool.
Strokes are usually the result of certain health problems such as feline kidney disease, heart disease, hypothyroidism, Cushing's disease, diabetes, or hypertension. Hemorrhagic strokes are associated with blood clotting disorders like thrombocytopenia, inflammation of arteries or vasculitis, or bleeding from a tumor.
In order to diagnose the strokes and the type, the veterinarian would recommend computed tomography scan (CT scan) or a magnetic resonance image (MRI) tests. Immediate treatment of the stroke symptoms drastically increase the outlook for a full recovery. For treating strokes, anti-inflammatory and anti-seizure medication may be prescribed. Treatment and the process of recovery might take weeks and even months. The best way to avoid brain damage due to the stroke is by identifying the symptoms early on and providing the appropriate treatment for it.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of a veterinarian.