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What are Brain Disorders?

Veterinarians classify brain disorders in cats as neurological conditions. When a neurological problem exists, your cat may have difficulty sensing the environment around him. These conditions can be acquired from traumatic injury, infections, or they can be present from birth.

Brain disorders in cats are neurological conditions that can have a variety of causes. Your cat’s nervous system is complex, consisting of the brain and spinal cord as well as the peripheral nervous system. There are a variety of neurological disorders that can affect your cat’s brain. While some disorders cause minor symptoms, others can have serious consequences to your cat’s health.

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Brain Disorders Average Cost

From 362 quotes ranging from $200 - $4,000

Average Cost

$1,200

Symptoms of Brain Disorders in Cats

The symptoms experienced depend on the cause of the condition. The most common symptoms of brain disorders include:

  • Loss of balance
  • Weakness
  • Tremors
  • Stupor
  • Lack of coordination
  • Hyperactive reflexes
  • Blindness
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Walking in circles
  • Pacing
  • Loss of sense of smell

Types

There are several different types of neurological disorders that can occur in cats. Below are some of the most common that affect domestic cats: 

  • Infections caused by viruses or bacteria
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Tumors in the brain or nervous system
  • Epilepsy
  • Injury from chemical poisoning
  • Effects of insect bites, snake venom, and ticks 
  • Traumatic injuries such as being struck by a car
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Causes of Brain Disorders in Cats

The causes of neurological disorders can vary. Here are some of the most common:

  • Inflammation in the brain caused by infectious diseases such as meningitis or encephalitis
  • Viral infections such as rabies, a condition that is fatal
  • Birth Defects
  • Neoplastic disease causing tumors or growths in the brain
  • Progressive degenerative disorders caused by advancing age
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Diagnosis of Brain Disorders in Cats

In order to diagnose your cat’s brain disorder, your veterinarian may run a battery of tests. During the visit, it is important to relay as much information regarding your cat’s behavior to your doctor. After taking a brief history, your veterinarian will perform a physical examination. He will look at your cat’s gait, behavior, posture, and motor function. In addition, a neurological examination may be performed which examines your cat’s motor functions in detail. Nerve function, characteristics of your cat’s walk and tail motions are part of this exam.

The cranial nerves are also examined to determine the extent of your cat’s issues. Some things looked at during this examination are eye movements, control of facial muscles, balance, chewing, hearing and vocal sounds. 

Blood tests are typically ordered when a brain disorder is suspected. After a blood draw, your veterinarian will send the sample to a laboratory for evaluation. He is looking for signs of metabolic conditions, infections or autoimmune diseases. 

X-rays are usually the next step in the quest for a diagnosis. These can give the veterinarian a good look at the structure of the brain. He will be looking for tumors, fractures or signs of infection in the brain. Doctors may also order more detailed imaging tests such as a CT scan or an MRI. These provide a more in-depth view of your cat’s brain. A CT scan may be performed with contrast dye, which makes abnormalities easier to see.

Tests to examine the fluid around the spine are not the first to be performed, but they may be done if a diagnosis proves elusive. The fluid is collected during a needle puncture of the spine, known as a spinal tap. The extracted fluid is tested for cancer, infection, tumors, fungal infections and brain abscesses.

Electroencephalograms are not commonly used to diagnose brain disorders in cats. However, they may be used to record the electrical output of your cat’s brain. It can also reveal any damage done from seizures.

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Treatment of Brain Disorders in Cats

The treatment of brain disorders depends largely on the cause of symptoms. Here are some of the most common treatments used in veterinary medicine today:

Medications

Antibiotics are often given to cats suspected of having infections such as meningitis or MRSA. These drugs work to eliminate the source of the infection to relieve symptoms. Anticonvulsants are often used in cats with seizure disorders. These medications can greatly reduce the amount of seizure activity in some cats. 

Surgery

If your cat has a tumor, your veterinarian may perform surgery to remove it. Some veterinarians refer these cases to a specialty clinic for treatment. 

Comfort Measures

In some cases, cats have conditions that are potentially fatal and untreatable. In these instances, doctors administer IV fluids and medications to keep the cat comfortable. Severe cases may require euthanasia.

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Recovery of Brain Disorders in Cats

The recovery of cats being treated for brain disorders depends on the cause and severity of symptoms. It is important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions to the letter. Report any changes in behavior as soon as possible. This is especially important if your cat stops eating or urinating, or becomes lethargic.

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Brain Disorders Average Cost

From 362 quotes ranging from $200 - $4,000

Average Cost

$1,200

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Brain Disorders Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Nino

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Mix

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2 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

Back Twitching Attacks Tail

I have a neutered male cat who runs from his tail and tries to literally bite it. I believe it to be a neurological disorder where the animal believes it's own tail is attacking it. I cant spell it but I think is is ....hyperstinesis? Any advice?

Aug. 24, 2018

Nino's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Common causes for hyperesthesia include parasites, bacterial or fungal infections, allergies, or phantom nerve pain. There are medications that may help for each of those things, but they are all treated quite differently. Since I can't see Nino or examine him, it would be a good idea to have him seen by a veterinarian to differentiate what might be happening and see if you can get the right therapy for him.

Aug. 24, 2018

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Cicero

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Domestic shorthair/Brown tabby

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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

Vocalization
Lethargy
Urinary Blocks
No Friction During Catheterization
Behavior Change

Options going forward for cat with urinary blocks caused by suspected central nervous system damage? One vet says there were indicators during a catheterization that suggest the problem lies within the brain, and confirmed euthanasia would be a reasonable option. Another says she refuses to euthanize based on the cat’s current condition unless he blocks again and the catheterization does not resolve the issue. My problem with this is that I don’t want Cicero to be in pain with a urinary block, and my roommates and I work long hours so we may not notice he is blocked until it’s too late. I also can’t afford to pay for the whole procedure again. The bigger problem is, I am moving out of the country soon and having trouble re-homing my baby due to the high medical costs. I can’t take him with me as I’d be moving back with my family and they are very allergic. If I surrender him to a shelter I fear he will be euthanized anyway due to his medical needs, while he is alone. He is already separated from other cats in the house so we can monitor his urine output, so he spends a lot of time alone, and is recently extremely lethargic and just seems so sad all the time. Hes usually very friendly and affectionate but now spends several hours at a time sitting under my bed (not even napping, just laying there). He’s not himself. Can I get another opinion here about how reasonable of an option euthanasia is in this situation?

Aug. 19, 2018

Cicero's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

I'm sorry that that is happening to Cicero, that is very sad. I would not surrender him to a shelter, as he would be alone and scared. If he were healthy, that would be a different situation, but it seems that he has a problem. If the veterinarian that you saw thinks that he has a neurologic problem causing his urinary blockages, euthanasia might be the best option for him, albeit very difficult, as it seems that he is not doing well otherwise in addition to these other problems.

Aug. 19, 2018

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Brain Disorders Average Cost

From 362 quotes ranging from $200 - $4,000

Average Cost

$1,200

Vet bills can sneak up on you.

Plan ahead. Get the pawfect insurance plan for your pup.

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