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What are Brain Tumors?

Tumors are a collection of cells that grow in an abnormal way. Veterinarians place brain tumors into two different categories. If a tumor originates in the cat’s brain and its membranes, it is known as a primary tumor. Tumors that begin elsewhere in the body and spread to the brain are known as secondary tumors. 

Cats can develop medical conditions similar to humans. While most cats are generally healthy, there are some conditions that can pose a threat to their health. Brain tumors are such a condition. While this type of cancer is more common in dogs than cats, cats can still develop tumors that can be cancerous.

Brain Tumors Average Cost

From 591 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $10,000

Average Cost

$8,000

Symptoms of Brain Tumors in Cats

Cats that develop brain tumors can exhibit a variety of symptoms. Below are some of the most common symptoms seen in domestic cats:

  • Sudden onset of seizures
  • Head tilt
  • Pacing
  • Circling or chasing the tail
  • Increased or diminished hunger
  • Increased or diminished thirst
  • Pressing the head into the floor or furniture
  • Decreased sensation on one side of the body
  • Diminished vision
  • Staggering
  • Drunk appearance
  • Vomiting
  • Problems swallowing
  • Tremors
  • Swaying of the body
  • Inability to move the eyes
  • Increased vocal sounds
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Causes of Brain Tumors in Cats

While some brain tumors occur with no known cause, veterinarians believe there are certain factors that place cats at an increased risk of developing them. Some conditions that are believed to contribute to brain tumors include:

  • Genetics
  • Diet
  • Environmental factors
  • Chemical exposure
  • Taking certain medications
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Diagnosis of Brain Tumors in Cats

In order to diagnose brain tumors in cats, doctors take a detailed history from the cat’s owner. This questionnaire includes information such as unusual birth history, pre-existing conditions and when symptoms first appeared. After taking a medical history, the doctor will examine the cat thoroughly. He will observe the cat’s gait, demeanor and motor skills. Most veterinarians suspect brain tumors in cats over five years of age if they exhibit neurological symptoms. 

A sample of blood will be taken from the cat and examined for any abnormalities. Routine tests such as a biochemical profile and a CBC, or complete blood count, are performed. A urinalysis will also be performed and examined. Doctors typically take an X-ray of the head to see if a tumor is visible. However, many tumors are difficult to see on routine X-ray films. Additional images may be taken of the chest and abdomen to see if cancer has spread to any vital organs. If additional images of the brain are necessary, doctors may order an MRI or CT scan to help confirm the diagnosis. Doctors often perform a biopsy of the tumor if possible to determine if it is malignant. 

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Treatment of Brain Tumors in Cats

The treatment recommended for brain tumors in cats depends on several factors, such as the location and type of the tumor. If the veterinarian feels the tumor can be successfully removed, he may perform surgery. Meningiomas are the easiest type of tumor to remove and typically offer the best outcome for the pet. Gliomas are the most problematic, because they often lie deep within the tissues of the brain. 

Radiation and chemotherapy can also be performed in an attempt to treat brain tumors in pets. Again, the type of tumor dictates the outcome of the treatment. Typically, cats that have advanced symptoms will not have as favorable an outcome as those who just began exhibiting symptoms. Larger tumors also have a reduced success rate. In cats that are very ill, doctors may opt to use palliative care to keep the symptoms under control. This may include medications to control seizures or administering steroids. Palliative care does not provide a cure, it merely keeps the cat comfortable and gives him time with his owners.

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Recovery of Brain Tumors in Cats

The recovery of this condition depends on the placement of the tumor, the health of the cat and whether it is benign or malignant. If caught early and the cat is young, treatment may have a favorable outcome. Cats that are older or in poor health, often do not recover as well from this type of condition. In some cases, veterinarians may recommend euthanasia as the most humane way to treat very sick animals. While this is not the desired outcome, it keeps owners from watching their beloved pet suffer from an incurable condition.

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Brain Tumors Average Cost

From 591 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $10,000

Average Cost

$8,000

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Brain Tumors Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Sam

dog-breed-icon

domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

1 Year

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

Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Seizures
Head Tilt
Loss Of Balance

My daughter's cat suddenly began losing his balance n his hind legs also became weak back in Feb. He couldn't stand or walk. The vet couldn't find any explanation after bloodwork, xrays, and an exam. He was given a steroid shot and antibiotics incase he had gotten inured or there was something not showing up. He improved. Then soon as the antibiotics wore off, he got sick again but worse. This time he couldn't hold his head up, it dropped to one side and his head shook, almost like Parkinson's. We rushed him back to the vet and he wasn't doing well. To be honest, I didn't think he was going to make it. By the way, he was barely a year old at this time. Again, the vet ran tests, completed xrays, found no explanation. Gave him another steroid shot, gave him iv fluids, gave him an antibiotic shot this time and bam, before we left he was up n walking around, little drunk walk, but up and moving. It made no sense to anyone. It is now July and he has done fairly well. Still has the head tilt n shake, and from time to time his back legs randomly give out on him. Now today out of nowhere, he has had 2 seizures. I don't have $2,000 for a spinal tap 😢. Vet says that is next step to figure out what is going on. Are there any other ideas/options

July 29, 2018

Sam's Owner

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1 Recommendations

In cases like this where all other tests have come back normal, a spinal tap or MRI would be the next logical steps; a spinal tap would show whether there are any cells or inflammatory processes or infections which may be causing these symptoms. It can be very difficult to get a diagnosis since any diagnostic test would cost well over a $1,000. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 29, 2018

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Cracker

dog-breed-icon

short hair

dog-age-icon

15 Years

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

Mild severity

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2 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Dialated Eyes
Dialated Eyes, Occasional Circling
Dialated Eyes, Circular Walk, Separ

Last fall my cat started vocalizing more and "demanding" us to pay attention to her. We took her to the vet and they did a urinalysis and checked her out and said she was getting older (she's 15) & sometimes older cats start behaving differently. In December when traveling for the holiday, she got very upset in her cage, crying to get out and then threw up and peed in her cage, which she has never done. When we returned in early January, I noticed her eyes were very dialated. She has always acted somewhat skiddish around other people and noises....so i took her to the vet again. The vet said she could still see and again told me that her age would start affecting some of her behavior and also could affect her eyes. They did xrays and bloodwork and all came out fine but they thought possibly she was hypertensive so put her on a low dose of BP medicine. I ended up taking her back to the vet in March because I saw her struggling to eat her dry food...she had lost most of her teeth early on and we had her mouth checked several times and her gums were healthy. This time they were bleading some...her tongue had been sticking far out while she struggled to chew. The vet gave her an anti-inflammatory shot and she came home and ate a whole plateful. The vet wasn't sure that she might have some arthritis causing discomfort also. The shot obviously helped but were not advised to change anything since her mouth healed and she was eating better. Shortly after that we noticed she was getting constipated so gave her pumpkin food a couple times a day. We had to travel to our other home for the summer so had her get checked at the vet prior to travel to get her something to help her stay calm. They gave her gabapentin which she did fairly well on. 3 wks after arriving at our other home, she got constipated again, and slowed down om eating and drinking because of it. I took her to the vet here and they ran all sorts of tests, blood, Cray, sonogram and now believe she has a braim tumor....we are devastated. They did an enema before doing testing and she was fine and started eating better, they gave her a new high fiber food. They have us a steroid to give her and after 3 days, I do see her eyes looking a little better but otherwise, she is her normal self...she's loving, sweet...she purrs...she's eating and drinking and going to the bathroom. After all tests ruled out everything they asked me if there was anything else I could tell them...first, was that a yr ago she was put on a new flea med (Revolution)..which I will never give her again..June was her last dose since it could have contributed to this, and that a couple times over the past 6 mos I saw her walk in a circles twice....but this only happened a couple times...it is not regular...and she has walked in a circle for me to pet her back since she was a kitten (we have had her since she was 3 mos.) They told me if the steroids helped then she has a brain tumor. This Tuesday we are off to a Neuro consult to see about possibly doing an MRI. Until this whole thing started, she was a super healthy cat...and all indications Dr her tests show her as being very healthy. About 12 yrs ago she had 1 crystal in her urine and was on food for that. Could the Revolution have caused this? & Most importantly, have we waited too long for her to possibly get treatment since it all started last fall and they are just telling me this now?? And how much will her age (15) factor in to her getting an MRI and possibly needing surgery, chemo or radiation? We are so sick about all of this...she is a part of our family and we cannot handle losing her...she still loves us and seems happy with us. She does seem to get depressed when we leave her...go to work or out for the day and she gets a scared when she thinks we will put her in the car. I have to drive her 3 hours to the neurosurgeon and I am just hoping they find out the vet here was wrong but I am seeing things online to make me think they are right. I am holding out hope that they can help her and she will be with us alot longer. Please give me any insight you can so that we may have some hope.

July 27, 2018

Cracker's Owner


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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

I think that it is unlikely that the Revolution caused these signs to start, and that that timing was coincidental... I do think that things start to happen as cats get older, and Cracker may be starting to show signs of things that need treatment. With her behavior, it is possible that she has a brain tumor, and the MRI will give you a better idea as to whether surgery is an option, if that is something that you want to put your elderly cat through, or if there are other options, as many animals do respond quite well to steroids and that may be an alternative for her. I hope that everything goes well for Cracker.

July 28, 2018

My cat was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor last week, and I've been giving him revolution also for the first time the last two months. He was completely healthy before and I noticed that it wasn't really working but gave it another try a month later and within a couple days he was in a very bad state. I wish I had seen this sooner because this makes me very concerned.

Aug. 22, 2018

Emilie C.


It is quite interesting you mentioned flea medication. Within the last 2 months I had given my 8 yr old big boy (17 lbs) frontline for the first time. He is an indoor cat 90% of the time, but I do allow him outside supervised if I am out in the backyard. Wanted to prevent any fleas and ticks just in case those 20 mins a week he was outside, caused any critter hitchhikers.. Well after about a week from putting the frontline on him he became very lethargic, his vision seemed off and he was not himself. Two months later and now his vision is clearly not as reactive to light and he is circling like crazy, never before. I truly believe i poisoned him with that freaking frontline. I feel awful and I cannot stress to other pet parents to stay away from those medications

Aug. 1, 2018

Kate K.


Thank you for your input.....I do know that until we get an MRI, if they can do one, we won't know for sure....and if I'm faced with making a decision about surgery, I wont be able to make that decision without guilt no matter what I decide to do. I think at this point, prayer is my only hope...but thank you anyway. The vet here was very cold and demeaning....I will NOT be euthanizing her....I have experienced that choice and have brought a cat home to pass with their family....the latter was a much better way to handle it....animals are much calmer and happier at home...they shouldn't have to die in a sterile hospital environment surrounded by strangers. I read many success stories about brain tumors in cats of all ages including older ones than mine...that doesn't mean I will opt to go that route if faced with that decision...but I will not let her die away from her family. The vet here indicated just having a brain tumor was cause to put her down and i totally disagree. I know someone personally who had an 18 yr old cat that had a brain tumor and was advised to put her down and she just couldn't do it...not could she afford surgery or any other treatment....6 mos later she took her in for her check-up and the tumor had shrunk all on its own...she lived another 4 yrs until she was 22. I realize that is probably a very unrealistic hope to have for my cat...but not all brain tumors are cancerous and she shows nothing else anywhere in her body...I won't put her down...I won't end her life prematurely just because I (or the vet) "thinks" she might die. No offense...but I disagree with that way of thinking. Animals can't talk...so they can't tell us their level of pain...so who am I to decide that they would rather die that live with some pain. I suffer from lupus and am in pain every day...I am not ready to call it quits. I will continue to pray and hope that she will continue to be with us for a long time.

July 30, 2018

Cracker's Owner

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Rain

dog-breed-icon

Calico

dog-age-icon

10 Years

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

Moderate severity

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2 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing
Bloody Nose

My cat rain has been sneesing long green mucas that has blood mixed in it at times. He has trouble breathing due to a injury as a kitten he is 10 years old now. Ive taken him to the vet they did blood work came back normal they put him on antibiotics and an anti fungal. The anti fungal did not work but the antibiotics started to. My vet says he most likly has a tumor or cancer but csn not do futher testing to find out as he does not havetheh right equipment and it would cost thousands of dollars to get these test done. My cat acts normal just sneezing alot and sleeping alot more. I cant figire out if he is in pain or not and i dont want to have to put him doen prematurely. Help please

June 15, 2018

Rain's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

2 Recommendations

Without examining Rain I cannot start to confirm whether or not there may be a tumour present; however if your Veterinarian doesn’t have certain equipment it may be worth visiting another Veterinarian just for a more in depth examination to see if you can get more information on the issue. Pain is hard to determine in cats since they are stoic by nature and hide it well; however, generally when they are in pain you may see behavioural changes including distancing from yourself and spending a lot of time hiding. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 16, 2018

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Leo

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Tabby Cat

dog-age-icon

13 Years

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

Serious severity

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2 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Blind
Decreased Thirst
Mostly Deaf
Injury Right Above Eye

What are ways to know if your cat is in pain? I was told when they don’t eat/drink for a few days on end then you know its time.. but what else? I want to make sure when we say goodbye, he would probably agree if that makes sense? I want to know when he is suffering, basically.

April 11, 2018

Leo's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Without being able to assess or examine Leo, I can't comment on whether he is in pain, but I do understand your concern. We never want out pets to suffer. If he is not eating or drinking, it may be a sign that he is painful, and it would be a good idea to have him examined by your veterinarian, as they will be able to look at him and give you their honest opinion. I hope that everything goes well for him.

April 12, 2018

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Jon Snow

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Snowshoe Siamese

dog-age-icon

3 Years

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

Serious severity

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2 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
Increased Thirst
Seizures
Excessive Saliva

My cat has recently started having seizures. We immediately went to the vet and they are running a full blood pan on viral diseases. He is showing signs of feline leukemia but also showing signs of a brain tumor, He is usually very disoriented and has been losing weight rapidly and drinking more water than usual. His seizures last from 1-3 minutes and have progressively been getting worse. My instinct is telling me it's leukemia, but could it possibly be a brain tumor?

Feb. 18, 2018

Jon Snow's Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

2 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. He is young to have a brain tumor, but it isn't impossible. You'll know more once you get the test results back. I hope that he recovers from this sad problem.

Feb. 18, 2018

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Rocky Balbowie

dog-breed-icon

domestic short hair

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

Dilated Pupils
Low Body Temperature

A couple of nights ago, when I got home I heard my cat howling from the living room (not normal). I ran in and found him laying on the floor but upright. He seemed to be ok when I pet him. He went and ate a TON of food and water, and we played and cuddled for a while. He seemed ok, but I noticed he may have dilated pupils. About 30 min later, I heard howling from the closet and he was awkwardly laying on my shoes meowing. He started dry heaving, so I moved him out of the closet and he heaved hard and kind of fell to the side. I immediately took him to the ER vet. He seemed ok - just super subdued and a little out of it. Quiet, and he usually screams at the vet. Blood tests and x-rays all came back normal. But, his body temp was 97°, dehydrated, pupils super dilated, and intermittently disoriented. He was not responding to IV fluids (heated) or a heating pad. Vet said it was likely neurological, but would need a prohibitively expensive MRI to confirm. She said since he wasn’t warming up and was disoriented, that I should start thinking about euthanasia. Rocky hates the vet (and this building was awful) so I insisted taking him home, and scheduling home euthanasia. They gave him a steroid shot before we left. However a few hours later, he seems ok. He’s warmed up, is oriented, and his pupils go back to normal. He’s walking around, jumping on furniture, and eating a small bit. So I don’t schedule the euthanasia. Now, he is way better - BUT he’s super tired and low energy. Moving at half speed. Still interacts and cuddles with me, and explores the house. Not drinking much water and dehydrated. What could it have been? And what can I expect? He was so youthful and energetic before the other night. I am praying it was one of his 9 lives and he’ll be back to his energetic self after some rest. Is that reasonable? Do cats ever recover from and episode like he had?

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Puma

dog-breed-icon

Simease

dog-age-icon

9 Years

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

Serious severity

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2 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Circling
Loss Of Balance
Lack Of Sensation On Right Side

My wife and I were having a New Years party on Dec. 31st and had our two cats and their litter/food/water in our room with the door closed. We checked on them at one point and noticed that one of them was circling counter clockwise. We tried to settle her down into a comfy place for her to sleep, and assumed the strange behaviour was due to stress from the music/sounds of guests. After our guests left, we opened our door and let the cats roam the house. The next morning (Jan. 1) we found our cat hiding downstairs, acting lethargic, and still circling. She was only looking to her left, even when resting. We monitored her condition all day and planned to bring her to the vet on Jan. 2 when it opened. However as we were going to bed the night of Jan. 1, we noticed she was extremely lethargic and wouldn't lift her head when scratched. We called the on-call vet who ran a physical and noted abnormal reactions on the right side of her face and said she had vestibular disease. She was still eating/drinking, but doing so sloppily (dropping food/splashing water). The next day (Jan. 2),we brought her back to the vet for a second assessment and blood work. The blood work came back relatively normal. The conclusion from the vet was that the likely cause of her symptoms was a tumor in her left forebrain due to the counter clockwise circling, a loss of functionality in her front right arm, loss of motor function with tounge/jaw, normal white blood cell count (ruling out infection), and normal platelet size (ruling out stroke). MRI imaging is not available in our area (closest is 2 hours away); for this reason and the large expense we have opted to not pursue diagnostics/treatment. We are currently giving her steroids/anti-inflammatories once a day with the hope of shrinking the size to reduce her symptoms. It has been 3 days of steroids and we are seeing some minor improvements (increased energy, particularly in the morning; improved pupil response, slightly better control/balance, slightly less head tilt). However, as we digest the fact that she has a brain tumor, she could be in pain, and the symptoms will resurface at some point (potentially when we are away from home) we are very much struggling with how to proceed.

dog-name-icon

Baby Cat

dog-breed-icon

Domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

15 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

Aggression
Sneezing
Coughing
Hearing Loss
Eye Discharge
Needy
Howling

My cat Pumpkin had chronic eye infections for years. After tons of triple antibiotic ointment, we did surgery to take out her eye. At that time the vet found a tumor. They removed it but it grew back quickly. Fast forward 10 plus years. Pumpkins daughter had what appeared to be a scratch on her eye. The vet prescribed triple antibiotic ointment. After about six months, she now has many of the same symptoms as her mother. Her eye is almost always goopy, she holds it part way closed, she has lost her hearing, she howls sometimes, she is aggressive to the other cats, more needy for attention than she used to be, she sneezes and coughs like her mother. My vet agrees that the daughter probably has the same type of tumor as the mother did.

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Max

dog-breed-icon

Tuxedo cat

dog-age-icon

13 Years

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

Serious severity

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2 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
Ataxia
Listless
Little Appetite
Hiding In Closet

This past summer I took my cat to the vet because he wasn’t acting himself. He was hiding a lot in my closet. The vet did tons of tests and said he was completely fine. Fast forward a few months and he started stumbling when he walked. I knew something was for sure wrong when he tried to jump on the couch and fell. The vet said it was vestibular disease and gave him steroids. This helped a while but he “crashed” this week. Back to the vet. This time we did an MRI (yesterday). It showed a very large meningioma. Since there are no veterinarians near here that do brain surgery we decided on palliative care. We are giving steroids twice a day to try to keep the swelling down and make him feel better. I pray he can have a good quality of life for some time.

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FatChance

dog-breed-icon

tabby

dog-age-icon

1 Year

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

Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Vision Problems
Increased Thirst
Seizures
Aggression
Trouble Walking

My baby FatChance had his first seizure at 6months old. His back legs have always been kinda weird and i always tease him about being so clumbsy he can fall off the floor. As time went on he got to be 1 year old and the seizures are worse now. For a few months he would have 1 or 2 a day about 10months old he was haveing up to 8 a day. By 1 he was having a seizure every 3 hours on average. Also his personality fully changed. He went from a bottle fed mommas cuddle bug who always slept with me to where just walking past him your likely getting your ankle cut. He hisses and growls something new for my FatChance. He also seems to need glasses. He swats at things 3 feet away as if he is gonna hit them. He became almost autistic. Looking through ypu rather than making eye contact. All blood test and urine test are negative. I even tried gluten free diet. Organic diet everything possibly or even thought to help seizures in cats with 0 results. Calming collars and seizure drops and everything inbetween and nothing even helped. Finally phenobarbital 2 mg every 12 hours and he has only had 2 seizures since and both times his meds had been forgotten or wrongly administered by someone. As long as he gets them in full on time or within the hour hes doing great.

Brain Tumors Average Cost

From 591 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $10,000

Average Cost

$8,000

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