Cat Care: Understanding Signs Of Stroke
Your cat can suffer a stroke in the same way a human can, so it's important to be aware of the signs of stroke in cats. Stroke can occur when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel in your cat's brain or when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures and the resultant brain bleed damages brain tissue. It's not always possible to determine why a cat has had a stroke, but there are certain factors that can increase a cat's risk, such as being elderly, experiencing trauma to the head and having certain underlying health conditions that that can make their blood more susceptible to clotting. Here's an overview of the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment approach for stroke in cats:
Symptoms of stroke can vary depending on the area of the brain affected, but there are some common symptoms to be on the lookout for including abnormal eye movements, changes in pupil sizes, muscle weakness, poor coordination and confusion. Your cat may begin circling without any purpose and pawing at their head, which can indicate they are experiencing a headache. Some cats also become withdrawn and irritable, and some cats experience seizures and can fall into a coma immediately after experiencing a stroke.
Diagnosis And Treatment Approach
Your vet will diagnose stroke by taking details of your cat's symptoms and carrying out a thorough examination. Blood and urine samples will be collected to check organ function and identify signs of infection or inflammation, such as raised C-reactive protein or white cell count. Your cat will also undergo diagnostic imaging, such as an MRI or CT scan, to look for signs of bleeding and inflammation in the brain.
Treatment for stroke will depend on the severity of your cat's symptoms, and your cat will be treated as an in-patient for a few days to allow the vet to monitor them and assess how they are responding to treatment. Treatment may include oxygen therapy to promote tissue healing and corticosteroids to reduce inflammation. Anti-seizure medication may be required, and your cat may need to take blood thinning medication to reduce the risk of them having another stroke in the future. If your cat's coordination and gait have been affected, you may be shown physical therapy exercises to help them adjust.
If your cat has any symptoms associated with stroke, have them examined by your vet immediately to prevent them from suffering unnecessarily. Contact a local veterinary hospital to learn more.