Feline Vestibular Syndrome

The feline vestibular syndrome is a condition that will affect the pet’s balance and spatial orientation. In most cases, the vestibular syndrome is only a temporary condition and the cat can gain back his balance.

Symptoms of Feline Vestibular Syndrome

If the nerves that send signals to the brain controlling the balance of the cat are damaged, the cat will display different symptoms such as:

  • Staggering
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Head tilting and shaking
  • Rolling and spinning
  • Sudden falling
  • Rapid movement of the eyes from one side to the other
  • Nausea
  • Uncoordinated walking
  • Seizures
  • Fainting

Types of Vestibular Syndrome

The vestibular syndrome may be of 2 types: 

  • Central vestibular syndrome, which means that the problem originates in the brain and the brain is not able to control the cat’s balance
  • Peripheral, which involves the nerves in the inner ear, which are the ones that send impulses to the nerves in the brain; these nerves are part of the vestibular system

Causes of Feline Vestibular Syndrome

The vestibular syndrome in cats can be triggered by several factors that may either affect the brain or the nerves in the inner ear, which make up the feline vestibular system. Some of the known causes of vestibular syndrome in felines include:

  • Inner ear infections
  • Brain tumors
  • Trauma involving brain damage
  • Injuries of the inner ear
  • Toxicity due to the ingestion of different foods, materials or plants

Meningitis In some cases, the causes of the vestibular syndrome are not known.

Feline Vestibular Syndrome Diagnosis

The vestibular syndrome is difficult to diagnose. However, if your cat displays tell tale signs of the condition, the vet will perform a few tests to rule out other possible diseases that may cause similar symptoms. The vet will also consult the cat’s ears, to determine if there are foreign objects, injuries or infections inside the ear. The brain will be also checked for tumors: x-rays, CT scans or MRI tests will be required.

Treatment for Vestibular Syndrome in Cats

The treatment will be determined according to the cause of the vestibular syndrome. If the ears are affected, the cat will receive antibiotics for the infection and topical ointments to heal the possible ear injuries. If the brain is affected, the vet may recommend different types of treatments. The tumor should be removed. If the condition is idiopathic, the vet will only recommend rest, so that to allow the cat to recover and to avoid possible injuries. The condition will typically go away without other treatment.

Vestibular Syndrome Prevention

The vestibular syndrome may only be prevented by keeping your pet’s ears clean and avoiding ear infections. The brain tumors cannot be prevented. In other cases, the vestibular syndrome may not be prevented, as the causes are not known.