Ataxia in Cats (Loss of Balance in Cats)

This is a comprehensive overview of ataxia in cats, covering its types, symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment. Here’s a breakdown of the content:

Title: What Is Ataxia in Cats?


The introduction briefly defines ataxia as a loss of coordination and balance in cats, emphasizing its impact on the nervous system and its association with various diseases.

Types of Ataxia: Explains the three main types of ataxia in cats:

  1. Vestibular Ataxia: Affects the inner ear and brainstem, leading to a head tilt, leaning, falling, and rolling.
  2. Sensory (Spinal or Proprioceptive) Ataxia: Caused by lesions in the spinal cord, resulting in the cat not knowing the placement of its feet.
  3. Cerebellar Ataxia: Involves the cerebellum, leading to uncoordinated movement, wide stance, and exaggerated steps.

Symptoms of Ataxia: Describes how ataxic cats may exhibit a wobbly gait, increased drowsiness, subtle symptoms like a mild head tilt or toe curling, abnormal eye movement (nystagmus), rolling or falling to one side, and potential nausea.

Causes of Ataxia: Categorizes the causes based on the type of ataxia:

  • Vestibular Ataxia Causes: Infection, inflammatory/immune-mediated issues, toxicity, ear infections, metabolic conditions, cancer, trauma, and idiopathic vestibular disease.
  • Sensory Ataxia Causes: Spinal cord degeneration, loss of blood flow, birth defects, compression by tumors or abscesses.
  • Cerebellar Ataxia Causes: Cerebellar tissue degeneration, inflammation, thiamine deficiency, structural changes, brain tumors, infections, metronidazole toxicity.
  • Miscellaneous Causes: Anemia, oxygen issues related to cardiac or respiratory disease, electrolyte disturbances, hypoglycemia.

How Veterinarians Diagnose Ataxia: Highlights the importance of seeking immediate veterinary attention, mentions the role of a thorough medical history and physical exam, and explains that additional tests like blood work, urinalysis, radiographs, and advanced imaging are crucial for diagnosis.

Treatment for Ataxia: States that treatment depends on the underlying cause, provides examples like antibiotics for infections, supportive care for idiopathic ataxia, and mentions that some types may not have a cure, requiring only supportive care.

Ataxia in Cats FAQs: Answers common questions about the duration of cat ataxia, its curability depending on the cause, and the diagnostic process.

Conclusion: Summarizes the key points and emphasizes the importance of close monitoring and veterinary guidance in managing cat ataxia.

This content provides a thorough understanding of ataxia in cats, catering to both pet owners and those seeking general knowledge on the subject.

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