Ataxia Average Cost

From 311 quotes ranging from $200 - 4,000

Average Cost

$1,200

Jump to Section

What is Ataxia?

Ataxia itself is a symptom of an underlying disorder negatively affecting the cat's sense of motion. There are a vast number of possible disorders that can lead to an unbalanced gait. Both the duration of the loss of control and the severity of the instability may vary, depending on what is causing the issue to exist. Ataxia may be a sign of something harmless, or of a life-threatening disease. 

When a cat experiences a period of limited or no muscle coordination, the condition is referred to as “ataxia”. Ataxia is the most common neurological issue found in cats.

Symptoms of Ataxia in Cats

The range and severity of symptoms associated with ataxia will vary greatly depending on the type of ataxia present, and the cause of the occurrence. Signs to watch for include:

  • “Wobbly” gait
  • Clumsy movements
  • Weakness
  • Swaying
  • Head tilting
  • Leaning
  • “Goose-stepping” (abnormally high steps)
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Abnormal eye movements
  • Behavioral changes

Types

There are three different categories of ataxia that can develop. 

Cerebellar 

Cerebellar ataxia involves the part of the brain in charge of balance and coordination. This lack of control is often present from birth, but may also be brought on by damage or inflammation to the brain. 

Vestibular 

Vestibular ataxia relates to the function of the inner ear. The nerves surrounding the inner ear send information to the brain to maintain balance. It is thought that endolymphatic fluid (the fluid in the membranes of the inner ear) can become abnormal and irritate receptors causing inflammation. 

Sensory 

Sensory ataxia often involves damaged nerves or compression of the spinal cord. This inhibits the cat's proprioception (spatial awareness of self).

Causes of Ataxia in Cats

A great number of diseases or occurrences can cause ataxia to develop in cats. The causes are generally divided by types of ataxia.

Cerebellar

  • Bleeding of the brain (from stroke or blunt trauma)
  • Genetic defects
  • Exposure to toxins before birth
  • Viral infection (such as feline infectious peritonitis)
  • Parasitic infection (such as toxoplasmosis)
  • Meningitis
  • Insect bites
  • Benign or malignant tumors
  • Decreased blood supply to the brain
  • Hydrocephalus (water on the brain)
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Hypocalcemia (low levels of calcium)
  • Immune system disorders
  • Glycogen storage disease
  • Central nervous system vasculitis
  • Encephalitis
  • Vitamin E deficiency

Vestibular

  • Bacterial ear infection
  • Fungal ear infection
  • Nasal cavity or soft palate polyps
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Bone cancer near vestibular nerves
  • Congenital disorders
  • Medication

Sensory

  • Spinal trauma
  • Tumor on the spine
  • Diabetes
  • Spinal stroke
  • Bacterial infection
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Exposure to toxins

Diagnosis of Ataxia in Cats

Because so many possible causes of ataxia exist making a proper diagnosis can be difficult, but is necessary to provide appropriate treatment. Provide your veterinarian with your cat's full medical history to assist in the diagnostic process. Answer any questions about medications your cat is on and possible exposure to toxins, and provides a detailed explanation of your cat's diet. If severe trauma exists, the most threatening injuries will be addressed and treated first. The vet will note all symptoms and attempt to match them to the closest fitting disorder.

Full blood work will need to be run, including a complete blood count, which can indicate possible cancer growth. A biochemical profile and urinalysis can reveal how the organs are functioning, if inflammation is present and if mineral levels are abnormal in the body. An otoscopic examination of the middle ear may be performed to look for the presence of polyps, infection or foreign objects. A cerebrospinal tap may also be performed. A CT scan of the middle ear can provide information on the parts which are not visible. X-rays or ultrasounds may be needed to look for brain or spinal tumors or abnormal fluid deposits. Parasites, bacteria, fungi and viruses should be tested for.

Treatment of Ataxia in Cats

The appropriate course of treatment will vary depending on the diagnosis and location of the underlying cause of the issue. Many conditions will require a period of hospitalization.

Supportive Care 

Many injuries and infections require supportive care to return stability to the cat. This often involves intravenous fluid administration, feeding tubes and maintaining the general comfort of the cat. 

Antibiotics 

If a bacterial infection has been found or if wounds exist, an antibiotic may be prescribed. These prescriptions often last from one to four weeks.

Surgical Removal 

If tumors or polyps are found to be causing the ataxia, they should be surgically removed if possible. This procedure requires the use of a general anesthetic.

Medication 

Certain conditions such as diabetes and mild cases of hydrocephalus can be alleviated with medication prescriptions. These generally do not cure the condition, but do provide symptom relief and improved quality of life.

Recovery of Ataxia in Cats

Recovery time and overall prognosis depend on the health condition that has been identified. Some issues are harmless and will not affect the cat's length of life, such as cerebral hypoplasia. Other issues are incurable and may lead to death, such as lysosomal storage disease, severe hydrocephalus, feline infectious peritonitis or glycogen storage disease. If the cat has experienced head trauma, any brain damage may be permanent.

During severe episodes of ataxia, it may be difficult for your cat to get to its litter box or food and water dishes. It is best to move these items close to the cat's bed so that it may access them. Clean your cat's bedding regularly, as it may soil it when it can not make it to the litter box. Dietary changes and supplement administration can alleviate certain conditions such as hypoglycemia or thiamine deficiency. Be sure to provide all recommended postoperative care if your cat has undergone surgery. Some cases of ataxia may spontaneously go away, while others will require life long treatment.

Ataxia Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Paint
Egyptian Mau
4 Weeks
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

tachypnea
dilated pupils
Tired
Stares blankly
Lethargy
Walking in circles

Medication Used

none

So last night, my four/near five week old kitten was stepped on. It was an accident as my boyfriend tripped and felt fur under his foot and immediately lifted up. The kitten made some convulsive movements before getting up and attempting to run under the couch. I managed to grab a hold of her and keep her in alignment as well as possible because I was worried about possible spinal injuries. While driving her to an emergency vet, I watched her breathing and she was able to meow and breath properly still. When we made it to the vet, he stated she was breathing okay, but she was dehydrated. We were unsure if her mother was producing enough milk and made a decision to begin weening her off, so the vet administered a subcutaneous injection of fluids and kept her overnight with some oxygen. We came to pick her up this morning, and the vet stated she was breathing fine, but she wasn't walking as well as he hoped for and her respirations were a little elevated. Upon bringing her back, we started giving her a mixture of pedialyte and milk replacer because she was having trouble walking to eat. I try to let her rest unless I get her up to eat, but when I do get her up, I notice that she will only walk in circles and sometimes even fall over. I have also observed her staring off at nothing, and both her pupils appear to be dilated. Her respirations were abnormally high this morning, but they have managed to slow down since. One issue she is also having after her return back home is the fact that she is unable to meow properly even though she is trying. Her legs begin shaking as well if she is up too long. The vet told me to really just let her rest and feed her as much food as she will take. I understand this will help, but I am just worried for her well being. I wanted to see if I could get a second opinion here before I make a decision to break the bank even more and take her back to the vet.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1159 Recommendations
A full grown human standing on a kitten could have caused instant death; luckily Paint is still with us. Spinal injury, brain injury as well in internal injuries are all possible in these cases; there is no quick fix and recovery is slow (very slow) and may still be unrewarding. Rest together with good nursing care is the best course of action; your Veterinarian would have stabilised her and would have been confident in discharging her. Just ensure she is rested. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to Paint's experience

Was this experience helpful?

"BUGS"
DLH Tuxedo
Approximately 10
Fair condition
1 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Crawling, holds head to one side when laying down,

I have a cat who had all teeth removed a year ago. He has never fully recovered his personality and health. He has slowly lost almost half his weight. I have taken him to the Vet many times and was given injections of nausea, antibiotics, steroids, etc. About 2-3 months ago he started walking wobbly, holding head at an angle and was starting to spit up white foam. (nausea injections again). Then while sleeping there were episodes of some type of seizures. Now he is barely walking but mostly crawling. I have taken him to 4 different Vets, 5 visits and cannot get a definite diagnosis. He has good days and bad days. He is constantly hungry and sometimes jumps on the food table with the rest of my cats by a small kitchen ladder to the table. He will eat mostly gravy from the food and then lays his head to one side. It is as if he cannot swallow or something lodged in throat even though all Vets have said no obstruction. Since his teeth were removed I thought this was an issue of swallowing maybe. He will lay his head down and I will pick him up again and he will try to eat again. He does go to the litter box but does have problems because he cannot stand up but uses the bathroom basically laying down and then he will crawl or jump out the best he can. Some days he will crawl to the outside where I am with the rest of the cats. Some days I have to lift him to the food table and then to my bed where sometimes he will jump. This is really frustrating to not know what it is and what is causing it in order for treatment. All Vets are "stumped" as to his diagnosis. He has had many blood work ups. Thanks!

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1159 Recommendations

I am guessing all the blood work shows liver and kidney (as well as all other parameters) within normal range. Problems with swallowing can be due to paralysis of the muscles at the back of the throat; head trauma, brain tumour, stroke, parasites, brain swelling and poisoning (the damage after a poisoning event) may all cause these symptoms as well as liver and kidney disease which would have shown up on blood tests. The next step would be a CT or MRI to check his brain, but this may be cost prohibitive. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Thanks! I really Appreciate the Input!

Add a comment to "BUGS"'s experience

Was this experience helpful?

Leo
mixed
8 Years
Moderate condition
1 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Uncoordination
Wobbly

My cat is wobbling, he's almost 8 years old he is falling over, active drunk and I'm very concerned. What should I do?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1159 Recommendations

Please visit your Veterinarian immediately as there are many conditions, some life threatening which maybe affecting Leo including infections, liver disease (hepatic encephalopathy), parasites, poisoning, toxins, tumours, hormonal disease to name a few. Treatment would be dependent on the underlying condition. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to Leo's experience

Was this experience helpful?

kitten
British Shorthair
15 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Ataxia

hi dr turner - my 15 year old male cat has ataxia. he has been to a neurologist, cardiologist along with his regular vet. his blood work from a few weeks ago show elevated liver enzymes - so the vet gave us denim. meanwhile, he has had a lung and chest exray and echogram of heart. nothing alarming was found - mild asthma in lung. need advise on next test, cardiologist recommend halter monitor to check electronic pulses from heart to determine if oxygen fluctuates affecting brain functions. also, ultra sound to see . my questions is what is the probably the heart is the cause of the alexia? we don't want the mri due to the concern of putting cat under. so should we ask the vet for an antibiotic to treat any potential for baterial infection that may be affecting inner ear - causing the ataxia? what other options should we consider to treat what we can without the mri?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1159 Recommendations

Ataxia can be caused by three main groups of conditions, either: vestibular (balance), cerebellar (brain) or sensory (the input from the surroundings are not being sent properly to the brain. There is a long list of actual possible causes including: head trauma, poisoning, infections, brain tumours, liver disease, kidney failure, stroke, nutritional deficiency, parasites, autoimmune disease, etc… In older cats, poor cardiac output can lead to a lack of oxygen reaching the brain which can cause symptoms; as an animal ages, organs become less reliable. A cerebrospinal fluid analysis may be useful as it would indicate inflammation or other cells or constituents which may give more information than a MRI. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to kitten's experience

Was this experience helpful?

snow
Persian
2 Months
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Ataxia

I just adopted a 1 month old cat that has been treated in a very ugly way, thrown from the second floor and left behind. He has spinal injury and ataxia, whenever he tries to rise his head he gets hyperextension of the neck. I toke him to the veterinarian and he advised me to put him down, but I do have faith that he will get better with a good support.
I just want to know what is the prognosis of such cases? and how to take care of him?
really, I don't want to give up on him, thank you

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1159 Recommendations

It is great that you want to give Snow a good life, but in some cases the kindest way forward is euthanasia if their quality of life isn’t going to be what a normal cat should have. I cannot comment on Snow’s particular case as I haven’t carried out an examination or taken an x-ray, it would be best to see another Veterinarian for another opinion. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to snow's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Pinki
domestic short hair
17 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Circular walk
Head Pressing
Head Tilt

Medication Used

Mirtazapine
Sulcrate suspension
Famotidine

My cat has developed vestibular ataxia two weeks ago after starting Mirtazapine. With every dose, it has become more pronounced. It began as a wobbly gait, and now she has a head tilt and walks in circles. She is 17 years old and has CKD and pancreatitis. One of the side effects of Mirtazapine is ataxia, which is a broad term. Could Mirtazapine in a hypersensitive cat cause a head tilt and circular walking? I should note we are operating under the assumption that she has suffered a stroke and are treating her appropriately.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1159 Recommendations

Mirtazapine (which is has a few uses including appetite stimulation) may cause ataxia in cats; I couldn’t find any direct scientific article relating to cats to link to, but there are plenty of articles in human medicine linking Mirtazapine to vertigo (generally in 7% of human patients, again I couldn’t find data on cats). Whilst the possible side effects of Mirtazapine should be considered, a geriatric cat would be at risk of other causes including progression of kidney disease, liver failure, hepatic encephalopathy, poisoning, tumours, stroke and trauma. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to Pinki's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Bandit
mixed
almost 5
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Ataxia

we found our cat as she suddenly appeared in our back garden, and after trying to find her owners, we too her in. she's lived with us for almost 4 years. in the past year, she's had 3 attacks of some sort. the 1st time, she stood up on the bed where she had been sleeping, fell off the bed, then walked almost like she was drunk. kind of sideways, staggering, and had some frothing at the mouth. the other 2 times, she's fallen from where she was lying, same walk with the sideways gait and staggering, but no frothing. what might be happening to our Bandit?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1159 Recommendations

There are various causes for ataxia in cats including infections, vestibular disorders, trauma, brain tumours, dehydration, poisoning, heart disorders (low blood flow to the brain), stroke, dietary deficiencies, low blood pressure, low blood sugar or hormonal conditions. Waking up suddenly may be caused by pain, heart disorders or neurological problems. Due to the varied number of causes, a neurological examination and diagnostic tests would need to be carried out by your Veterinarian to determine a diagnosis. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to Bandit's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Nemo
Shorthaired domestic
6 Months
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Head Tilt

My kitten who is 6 months old was walking yesterday and fell over immediately. His walking goes on and off. Sometimes he walks fine and other times he just falls over while walking. I noticed before he falls his back right leg goes sideways. Any advice?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1159 Recommendations

There are many different possible causes of an unsteady gait including trauma, congenital problems, nutritional deficiencies or infection. It would be best to visit your Veterinarian to check Nemo over as there are many different causes. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

My cat 6years old came back home with lump in left side of abdomen and lower legs weakness 15days ago. We called a doctor and he treated on injection kind of albendazole, and then my cat better worse and lay down. I think got blindness although have pupil movement. Later, his lump bursts and pus out. Another doctor gave antibiotics for 3days and cut of upper skin in that area and took dressing 2times for a day. Also gave antiobiotic powder. It lasts about 4days after treatment. But I dont like his condition so much. I think his wound doesnt heal much. He drink food and nutriments.Output also good. But still got tremer and not got enough normal conscious. Please give some advise.

Add a comment to Nemo's experience

Was this experience helpful?

chester
Himalayan
16 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Weakness

I have a 16 year old cat. wondering what to do about my cat. He is wobby and falling over. It just started yesterday afternoon. He has been on epogen and benazepril now since 2/9. I took him to the vet yesterday and she insists to continue with the meds scheduled for today as I suspended them both yesterday. He is more wobbly since I left her and just now I went to the closet where he decided to lay down and got there too late and he urinated on the blanket under him b/c he couldn't get up to walk to the litter box. I am worried! He has a kidney issue but never had an issue with peeing inside the box and walking around. He was fine over the weekend.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1159 Recommendations

If Chester is progressing with his incoordination, it may be worth visiting your Veterinarian again for blood tests to check liver (especially) and kidney function as waste products may accumulate in the blood and have an effect on the brain. Other causes include tumours, neurological problems and poisoning. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to chester's experience

Was this experience helpful?