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What is Acute Collapse?

Acute collapse is generally symptomatic rather than a standalone condition. Acute collapse may be caused by a number of conditions, including but not limited to shock, Addison’s disease, and diabetes.

Acute collapse is a rare but serious symptom in cats that occurs when a cat becomes suddenly weak and faints or collapses. This is not the same thing as lying down; acute collapse is similar to a person passing out, and is characterized by weakness and disorientation. Collapse may also be preceded by vomiting, diarrhea, or panting. In most cases, cats will collapse for one minute or less and may return to normal quickly. However, it is unwise to delay treatment based on this fact, as acute collapse may be a sign of a serious condition and can also cause sudden death.

Acute Collapse Average Cost

From 439 quotes ranging from $200 - $6,000

Average Cost

$1,200

Symptoms of Acute Collapse in Cats

Due to the myriad of conditions it may be attributed to, acute collapse should be treated as an emergency. By the time fainting happens, the underlying condition may have advanced to a serious state. Seek immediate veterinary attention if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Panting
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness or unsteadiness
  • Signs of anxiety and/or confusion
  • Loss of bowel and/or bladder control
  • Muscle twitching
  • Pale gums and tongue
  •  “Glassy” eyes

If your cat has suffered acute collapse and does not respond to you, this means it has lost consciousness and requires emergency veterinary treatment.

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Causes of Acute Collapse in Cats

The main cause of collapse – regardless of the underlying condition – is a disruption in the blood and oxygen supply to the brain. Your vet will be able to determine what has caused the disruption during diagnosis. The most common cause of acute collapse in cats is heart muscle disease. There are no breed, sex, or age predispositions for acute collapse in cats, and acute collapse can affect any cat. 

There are several underlying conditions that may cause acute collapse. They include:

  • Electric shock
  • Allergic reaction
  • Certain cancers
  • Internal hemorrhage
  • Poisoning
  • Seizures
  • Diabetes
  • Heatstroke
  • Choking
  • Abnormal blood pressure
  • Heart problems
  • Diseases of the blood
  • Addison’s disease (adrenal insufficiency)
  • Respiratory diseases
  • Diseases of the nervous system

In some cases, there may be no identifiable cause for acute collapse.

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Diagnosis of Acute Collapse in Cats

The vet’s first priority is ensuring that the cat has indeed experienced acute collapse instead of a seizure. Be sure to inform your vet of the extent and duration of your cat’s symptoms, as well as any allergies, current medications, or any exposure to toxic substances that you know of.

Cats may appear completely normal after waking up from a collapse; this can make it difficult for the vet to make a diagnosis. It is important that you let your vet know how your cat acted before, during, and after the episode, as this may assist in the diagnostic process.


Your vet will conduct a number of tests to identify the underlying cause of the fainting. The first will likely be an ECG, which may accompany an ultrasound and x-ray of the chest. Blood tests, CT scans, and MRIs may also be required.

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Treatment of Acute Collapse in Cats

Treatment of acute collapse will involve treating the underlying cause. Since so many conditions can cause acute collapse, a treatment plan will be created based on your cat’s individual needs. For heart conditions, your vet may surgically place a heart monitor or pacemaker.

In cases which no cause can be identified, your vet will be able to advise you on what to do when your cat suffers from acute collapse in the future. One thing you’ll want to do is practice preventative measures. Pay attention to what happens to your cat just before they have an episode of acute collapse – they may get extremely excited or frightened. This will help you avoid triggering an episode.

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Recovery of Acute Collapse in Cats

Always follow your vet’s post-treatment instructions carefully. Recovery and prognosis may vary depending on the underlying cause of collapse. However, you’ll want to follow some general advice for ensuring your cat is comfortable throughout recovery.

Ensure your cat has a warm, safe place to rest. Keep all cleaning products secured where your cat cannot reach them. You may want to restrict your cat’s outdoor activity, particularly if the cause of the collapse was exposure to toxic substances. If your cat has had surgery, do not let them irritate the surgery site. Always administer medications according to your vet’s instructions. Never give your cat any kind of pain medication made for human use unless explicitly instructed by your vet.

Your vet will schedule follow-up appointments as necessary to monitor the underlying condition, if there is one. If you have any questions, or if the condition is not responding to treatment, contact your vet immediately.

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Acute Collapse Average Cost

From 439 quotes ranging from $200 - $6,000

Average Cost

$1,200

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Acute Collapse Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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dog-breed-icon

Feline

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Sixteen Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Randomly Lost Balance

I heard this commotion in the bed room and found my cat lying on the ground. I then went over to talk to him and pet him but found he couldn’t stand up and almost immediately meowed as if he was in distress. I picked him up and set him on his feet and ended up regaining balance soon there after. After that he walked to his food dish to eat and drink, then jumped up on a bed for attention, then jumped off of it when he was done and walked down stair to the water dish and took 3 more trips to drink water. He just walked back up the stairs and seems normal right now.

July 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Cats can have strokes, vascular events, or neurological or muscle problems as they age. If this occurs again, it would be a good idea to have him seen by a veterinarian for a good checkup. There may be something going on that needs treatment. I hope that all goes well for him.

July 27, 2020

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Snicky

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Persian

dog-age-icon

9 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Breathing Difficulty

Hello, my cat has been experiencing several partial collapses over the last week. It starts out with a breathing episode. He is gasping for air, then slowly falls over. He is not unconscious. He is conscious the entire time, but gets week or loses ability in the legs to stand. After a few seconds, he is fine again. He is eating and drinking normally. My vet thinks it may be Hiatal Hernia. He is going for a CT scan on Friday. Do you think there could be a heart condition there also?

Aug. 28, 2018

Snicky's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Syncopal episodes don't usually involve consciousness. If Snicky is conscious during the event, a heart related issue is less likely. I hope that all goes well with his CT scan and you are able to get some answers.

Aug. 29, 2018

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Wendigo

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Dlh

dog-age-icon

6 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Passing Out. Not Drinking Or Eating

My cat has recently been groomed for which he needed to be sedated. I started noticing him collapsing when he gets up to go to the cat litter. In fairness I can't say for sure if this was happening before the grooming but it certainly is happening now. Also he won't eat, even chicken or drink much ....today after he collapsed he urinated while in that condition and he let out this really painful meow....

June 17, 2018

Wendigo's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Any case of collapse (or fainting) should be seen by your Veterinarian as this may be caused by a few different conditions including heart failure; this isn’t something you should be ignoring or waiting to see if it improves. Your Veterinarian will carry out a thorough examination to rule out possible causes for the collapse (or fainting) episodes. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 18, 2018

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Ben

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Domestic long hair

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4 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Anaemia
Hind Limb Paralysis
Fiv
Megacolon
Chronic Kidney Disease
Upper Respiratory Infection
Transitional Heart Murmur

What could be the cause of my cat's episodes of collapse? This has happened 3 times in as many months and each time we've rushed to the emergency vets. By collapse; I am referring to my cat having rapid breathing and then extreme difficulty breathing, causing him to collapse and be unable to right himself. On the 2nd occasion, the collapse was preceded by emptying of the bowels which turned to diarrhoea (following a much needed warm water and lactulose enema) plus vomiting 6 times in 1 hour immediately before collapse. The most recent time was preceded by around 4 vomiting episodes over a 15 hour period and emptying of the bowels after a lactulose and warm water enema. There was no vomiting, diarrhoea or enemas given preceding the 1st episode. The only thing I can find in common for each of these episodes is that they follow recent injections of Epogen or Aranesp, which have caused the PCV to rise several points in a week. After being hospitalised and receiving oxygen therapy, IV fluids and antibiotics, my cat has bounced right back to how he was in less than 24 hours.

June 4, 2018

Ben's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Aranesp (darbepoetin) is generally safer than Epogen (erythropoietin) however complications may occur with either and may be a trigger for collapse; however these medications are used as a last resort and because they are used ‘extra-label’ in animals there is little information about their side effects and adverse reactions in cats. I cannot really add anything else to what may be causing these episodes. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 5, 2018

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Simba

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ginger tabbie

dog-age-icon

4 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Collapses, Loss Of Consciousness,
Loses Power In Limbs

Hi, my cat has collapsed 3 or 4 times over the last couple of years. All times recovered consciousness within a few seconds, normally after coming in fro outside. Taken to vets but the vet dismissed my concern, said she'd never heard of such a thing at laughed when i bought up acute collapse research I'd done online. My cat loses the the strength in his limbs and howls after, but normally regains appetite quickly. Never seen this before in previous cats.

March 17, 2018

Simba's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

The collapse may be due to a lack of blood flow to the brain which may lead to a loss of strength and a loss of consciousness; this may be caused by heart disease, respiratory disorders, seizures, other neurological issues among other causes. You should have a thorough examination done by your Veterinarian (or another Veterinarian) with specific attention paid to the heart. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

March 17, 2018

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Klaus

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Unsure

dog-age-icon

3 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Diahrrea
Diahrrea, Vomting
Diahrrea, Vomting Collapsing When Vomiting
Diahrrea, Vomting, Collapsing

Not sure if my cat is experiencing acute collapse. However everytime he vomits right before he howls then vomits clear liquids. He falls over for a few seconds and regains his composure. He looks around like what just happened. I also recently have picked him up and he appears to go listless in my arms; I put him down and he comes back too. I notice recent ly some weightloss, diarrhea and possible the third eyelids appearing. He was a feral cat I have had him in the house for about a year. He was dewormed and fleas are gone. He has a great appetite and drinks water. I know he was outside for 2 years before he let us take care of him. Does he have something more serious going on?

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Too Quick

dog-breed-icon

Manx

dog-age-icon

8 Years

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Critical severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Collapse

I took my cat to the vet because I thought she was drinking too much water. The vet drew blood and when they bought her back into me she fainted. They put her in an oxygen tank and gave her fluids, the vet said she was throwing blood clots. I left saying to do everything possible to save her. The vet called me and said my dear cat went into cardiac arrest and they couldn't save her.

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Cody

dog-breed-icon

American Short Hair

dog-age-icon

11 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Uncoordination

Today my cat Cody had an episode of acute collapse - he was standing at the kitchen waiting for his breakfast, the he became uncoordinated and collapsed on his left side. I rushed to the emergency vet right away as I have had another cat that had heart desease and had the same symptoms. Cody didn't let the doctor make a XRay even with sedative medication. His blood test was normal though. He was sent home with blood thinner medication and I'll be taking him to see his regular vet in 2 days and hopefully he'll wil be able to perform an XRay and have a diagnostic. Cody has a history of being agrgrevisse towards strangers and hates veterinary clinics.

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Molly

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tabby

dog-age-icon

16 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Scared, Fell Over, Meowed

My cat unfortunately is an outdoor cat. We let her outside, I heard something in the leaves (which my mom thinks may have been another cat). My cat, Molly, climbed up a tree, I got her down with some treats, she walked in my house and it literally looked like she fainted. Kind of laid on her side suddenly and meowed, didn’t last long at all, but I’m not sure how long. Got up walked away and has been fine since?

dog-name-icon

Leo

dog-breed-icon

Russian Blue

dog-age-icon

6 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Collapse
No Appetite
Dyspnea

Hello, my cat Leo (6 months old) has recently collapsed twice in a few days to one side. He is responsive once i pick him up and put him back on all fours, but seems a bit dazed whilst on the ground. He will also often drop from walking normally and bend down with his elbows out trying to breathe. Our vet has done blood tests and prescribed a liquid antibiotic, but says he is otherwise healthy. He is also quite reluctant to eat.

Acute Collapse Average Cost

From 439 quotes ranging from $200 - $6,000

Average Cost

$1,200

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