Cat stroke can be treated successfully as long as the owner responds in a timely manner. If the cat shows signs of a possible stroke he or she must be taken for veterinarian care as soon as possible; the faster the response, the greater the chance of recovery and minimal damage occurring.
Signs of a Stroke
A cat will exhibit the following symptoms if having a stroke:
- Loss of or impaired vision
- Lack of appetite
- Head tilting
- Lack of energy
- Change in appearance of the pupil
Strokes can be caused by brain or head trauma but also can occur if the cat has health issues such as diabetes, kidney or heart disease or blood clots. Fortunately, strokes in cats, is not a common occurrence.
Types of Stroke
The types of strokes which occur are ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes. An ischemic stroke is the result of a blockage preventing the proper amount of blood to flow freely to the brain. Hemorrhagic strokes are caused by a bursting blood vessel in the brain , usually due to a weak area in the vessel, which in turn causes bleeding, or hemorrhage, in the brain.
Treatment for Cat Stroke
When a cat has a stroke the treatment is not aimed at treating the stroke itself, but is more focused on the prevention of further episodes and the supportive care needed to help the cat recover from the stroke. Depending on the cause of the stroke a veterinarian will prescribe a variety of drugs to address the symptoms, such as, sedatives to help settle disorientation, antiemetics to control any vomiting, or an anti- inflammatory to reduce and manage swelling to the brain tissues.
In addition to medications, the cat owner will need to be prepared to offer intensive nursing and physical therapy care. The cat will need to be re-hydrated either intravenously or with subcutaneous injections (injection of fluids just under the skin,) and kept in a soft bed that is warm and dry, preferably in a room with low to moderate noise and traffic. Until the cat is able to physically move itself, he or she will need to be moved from one side to the other, to prevent pressure sores from forming on the body. To prevent the leg muscles from becoming atrophied (weak and tightening up), body and leg massages will make the cat feel emotionally better and will aid in keeping circulation and stimulation to the muscle groups.
In most cases the cat’s diet will not need to be changed unless a health issue such as kidney or heart disease were the initial cause of the stroke. Clinical signs usually show improvement within three days from the preliminary onset of the stroke. Unfortunately, permanent disabilities may occur and it is possible that the cat may have additional strokes, although this is rare. On average, most feline patients recover and return to normal in two to three weeks after the stroke. Depending on various factors, for example, age and previous health conditions, some cats may take longer to have a full recovery.