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What is Loss of Balance?

Loss of balance can take place when a disease or injury disrupts the vestibular apparatus in the inner ear. The vestibular apparatus is the area that controls the balance and coordination for your cat. There are several causes of vestibular disease, but the disease is usually considered idiopathic because the cause is not always known without extensive testing.  

A loss of balance can occur when a cat is suffering from vestibular disease. Your cat may experience issues with standing on all four legs, and you may even notice your cat leaning or falling over at times, which can be a frightening sight.

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Loss of Balance Average Cost

From 584 quotes ranging from $200 - $4,000

Average Cost

$850

Symptoms of Loss of Balance in Cats

Once you notice your cat is having trouble standing up, it is important to watch for the other signs of vestibular disease. A cat who is suffering from loss of balance may also display the following symptoms:

  • Trouble standing
  • Falling down
  • Stumbling when walking
  • Head tilting to one side
  • Moving in circles
  • Rolling on floor
  • Weakness of limbs
  • Continual eye movements
  • Painful vocalizations
  • Difficulty hearing
  • Vomiting or lack of appetite
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Causes of Loss of Balance in Cats

There is not always a known cause to vestibular disease, but the following problems can play a part in this condition:

  • Middle-ear or inner ear infections
  • Disease or injury of the spinal cord
  • Damage or disease of the central nervous system
  • Neurological disorders
  • Cancer
  • Tumors in ear canal, especially in aging cats
  • Exposure to specific drugs or toxins
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Diagnosis of Loss of Balance in Cats

The signs of vestibular disease may be related to another condition, such as an inner ear infection or head trauma. A physical exam is usually performed to check the overall health of your cat. This includes a neurologic exam and an otoscopic (ear) exam. You should also expect to answer questions about the cat's medical history and current signs.

Your veterinarian may run a number of tests to check for an underlying cause of your cat's loss of balance or to rule out other conditions. Your veterinarian may order a blood test, urine test, and ear cultures to check for diseases that may cause a loss of balance. Your cat may have to undergo an MRI, spinal tap, and head x-rays to check for injuries or infections that may have caused the condition. The tests also allow your veterinarian to ensure the loss of balance has not caused a more serious condition, such as injury from falling down.

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Treatment of Loss of Balance in Cats

Treatment options depend on whether or not the loss of balance is idiopathic. Your veterinarian will treat the underlying cause if it is known, and they will focus on relieving the symptoms if there is not a known cause.

Treating the Underlying Cause

The loss of balance may be caused by an ear infection, tumor or exposure to toxins. When this is the case, your veterinarian will treat the underlying cause of the condition. Your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics for an infection or treat for a drug toxicity. The type of treatment depends on the underlying cause itself.

Treating Idiopathic Vestibular Disease

If the loss of balance or vestibular disease is considered to be idiopathic, your veterinarian will focus on treating the signs and bringing comfort to your cat.

  1. Dizziness can cause your cat to lose its appetite or vomit, so your veterinarian may prescribe medication to treat the vomiting, nausea and motion sickness. Your cat may require help with feedings, fluid administration, and changing position during recovery from this condition. Your cat may be restricted to cage rest in a well-padded area to avoid injury when trying to stand up or walk. The good news is the signs usually resolve, and they don't tend to recur. 

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Recovery of Loss of Balance in Cats

Your veterinarian can treat the underlying cause or signs of the loss of balance, but it is still important to schedule a follow-up appointment after the treatment. A follow-up appointment allows your veterinarian to make sure the underlying cause has been treated or eliminated. Your veterinarian will also make sure your cat has not become sick or injured due to the loss of balance.

It is important to follow the instructions given by your veterinarian, from assisting with feedings to administering medication. You may need to continue to restrict your cat to cage rest until the signs have completely disappeared. Your veterinarian will tell you when to discontinue the treatment.

The underlying cause may be treatable if it is caught early, and idiopathic vestibular disease usually disappears over a short period of time. 

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Loss of Balance Average Cost

From 584 quotes ranging from $200 - $4,000

Average Cost

$850

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Written by Darlene Stott

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Published: 10/12/2016, edited: 03/22/2021

Loss of Balance Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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i dont know

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Thirteen Years

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Unknown severity

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10 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Falling Over

I’m worried because my 13 year old cat has been randomly falling over lately. Specifically after he gets up from walking. I also find him in the basement shower or other weird places meowing at nothing. I’m scared he is feeling sick.

Jan. 5, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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10 Recommendations

I’m sorry your cat is not doing well. If he is falling over, he could have arthritis or something called vestibular syndrome which is similar to vertigo in humans. I recommend that you take him to a veterinarian for an exam. They will want to run labwork and possible xrays. Good luck.

Jan. 6, 2021

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tabby

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14 Years

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Unknown severity

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5 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss, Depressed, Falling, Loss Of Balance, Vomiting

Hi, I am at a loss here with my 14 yr old cat, she isn't up to date on her shots and has NEVER been ill up till now. This started a little over a week ago when I noticed she was losing weight. I thought she was trying to adjust to opening our home to a new kitten...but all the symptoms I listed above are leaving me to believe it's more. I took her to a vet today who was unable to even touch Aubree so I got no peace of mind. I thought it was an ear infection but she said she thinks kidneys without being able to run tests because she was combative. I gave her 2ml of amoxicillin and she got sick

Dec. 8, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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5 Recommendations

Hello, So sorry to hear about your cat. Older cats commonly get kidney disease. Amoxicillin could have made her vomit. Usually, cats with kidney issues will need IV fluids. Could your vet give your cat a mild sedative to help them get the blood needed for testing? This would be the best way to determining what is wrong. There are kidney supplements that you could also try but from the sound of her symptoms, she really needs more aggressive treatment.

Dec. 8, 2020

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tabbi

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Five Months

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Unknown severity

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3 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Eobbly, Fell Over, Not Moving Inmy Arms Now. Mouth A Little Open

She out-of nowhere started to look wobbly and lose balance. She then fell over to me to get her and been laying lifeless in my arms since.

Nov. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Kate D. MA VetMB MRCVS

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3 Recommendations

Hello, Thank you for contacting us about your cat. I'm sorry to hear she is so sick. From what you describe, it is clear that she is unwell, but it's difficult to say exactly what has happened -- it could be that she's had a kind of seizure. Certainly your description of her laying lifeless in your arms is worrying, and I would recommend you take her to a vet immediately so that she can be fully examined and have any treatment that might help her recover. I hope things go ok for her.

Nov. 26, 2020

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n/a

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Sixteen Years

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Unknown severity

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4 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Stumbling

My cat (adopted from shelter) has recently started stumbling. It is more frequent when it is hot outside, but we have kept our house cool and it now happens 1-2 times a day. That we have noticed. We don't see any other symptom. She does have a tendency to sit under our couch after one of her episodes. But her appetite and thirst haven't changed. Neither has her litter box habits.

Sept. 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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4 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It is not uncommon as cats age for them to become less coordinated, or to have neurological or muscular problems. They can also develop systemic diseases that affect they're balanced. This may be something that your veterinarian can prescribe medication to help with, and I think that would be the best idea, to have her seen by a veterinarian. They will be able to examine her, see what might be going on, and let you know what sort of treatment options there may be for her. I hope that she continues to do well

Sept. 29, 2020

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Catahoula mix

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Stumbling

My cat has been walking like she’s drunk and I’m not sure why

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It would be best to have them seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine your pet and see what might be causing this, and let you know what treatment might help.

Oct. 11, 2020

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Cookie

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domestic short hair

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2 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

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Hearing Loss
Loss Of Balance
Tongue Out
Vision Loss
Wet Nose
Dilated Eyes

This just happened a couple hours ago. My grandma's cat was in perfect condition earlier. We suspect somebody hit her (she sometimes goes out my grandma's to get to our place). She has lost her balance, her sight and hearing. We're hoping this is temporary. Her ears are not moving only when touched. She does not respond to sound at all. And her eyes are fully dilated. We gave her food and she could barely see where it is that she had to sniff around. She binged on the food and then pooped where she was. She still hasn't gained her full vision and hearing after 2 hours. Vets are closed right now due to quarantine and we don't know what to do.

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Oreo

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Tuxedo

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6 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Shaking
Vomiting
Limping
Wobbly

If someone could please help or offer advice that would be very much appreciated. My cat Oreo is acting weird the first time a couple months ago he fell down the stairs and started shaking and then got up like nothing happened. Then last week my mom noticed he was walking weird and looked like he was about to fall down the stairs(was wobbly) but he made it down fine. Then he tried to walk back up but he couldn't do it so my mom picked him up and put him down and he sat their doing nothing not moving for about 10-15 min and then he vomited and wobbly walked a few feet away then sat down again. I then picked him up so he could rest on my bed and he did for 5 min and then wobbly jumped off and walked to a bench by the window and I picked him up and put him there to rest and he slept for a few hours and woke up fine and back to normal. Tonight he walked into my room and jumped like something scared him and then started to walk wobbly a few steps and then vomited. Now he is preceding to sit on the ground not moving(but alive)in the same spot for about an hour. Also when you pet him he does not purr which is very unlike him. My mom and me think it may be some sort of seizure.

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Casper

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white

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7 Years

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Critical severity

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0 found helpful

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Seizures
Loss Of Balance
Loss Of Appetite
Eye Darting

My 7 year old Casper started with waking up from naps and losing balance. This would last for fifteen seconds and he would be back to normal. After a vet visit, ear check, quick neurological exam we were sent home and told to monitor. One week later I was seeing this more frequently and returned and sent to a cardiologist. Everything was fine with his heart. One week later he began to have seizures and on thanksgiving day had a total of fifteen all under one minute. He would alert me one would be happening by crying out and his head would go back while his limbs would point straight out. A couple days later I got him into the neurologist (soonest possible) fully prepared to say goodbye but they said we were not there yet. They put him on two antibiotics for possible infection. An MRI was recommended but because of the cost, $3500 it could not be done. One week later, Casper has completely lost all ability to walk. Has not ate in 48 hours, eyes dart back and forth and has the “drunk” demeanor many speak of. Average of 5-15 seizures a day. I am waiting to hear back from the neurologist on what he believes the next step should be, but am also trying to be the best advocate for my cat. A tough decision needs to be made. He is currently on a steroid, anticonvulsant, clindamycin, meclizine and doxycycline

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cry baby or flash

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Siamese mixed with a little bit of tabby

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26 Weeks

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Not Eating
Cant Walk
Trouble Standing
Cant Move Legs
Difficulty Hearing
Keeps Falling Side To Side
Head Bobing
Sneazing
Hard Time Sleeping
Feet Roling Under It
Eyes Get Bogerd Up
Sometimes Cant Get Up
Rolling On Floor
Weakness Of Limbs
Moving In Circles

my kitten keeps falling every time it tries to walk it cant eat cuz of its head bobbing he has been sneezing a ton his eyes are always a mess and they are closing upon him i am really worried for the lil baby I have noticed she is no longer herself he sneezes a lot sometimes Ive noticed he had a scratch on the inside of his right ear

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Paddy

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domestic short hair

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Ten Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Severe Muscle Contraction Causing

10 year old male cat Paddy was treated for total urinary blockage in February 2019 and vet recommended Royal Canin SO cat food. I also have his sister Lilly. Within the first 3 days of eating this food Paddy had what looked like a type of seizure. We were walking in the house and suddenly his hips slammed onto the floor. I rushed him back to the vet for observation, they didn't notice him have any of these attacks while he was there. The female was also eating the Royal Canin SO and within 2 weeks went to 1/2 her size. I took them off the Royal Canin and now they get Darwin's Natural raw food and Tiki Cat Sardines and Mackeral. Lilly hasn't gained weight back. Paddy had no episodes of seizure all summer. This October 2019 he's having at least 10 per day. He eats well. Never loses bowel or bladder function, doesn't drool. It's like his muscles contract and cause him to fall down. He stays conscious and alert.Just had both to vet and Lilly has Thyroid level of 19. Normal is 4.7. Can't help but think these conditions were caused by the SO food. What to do for paddy? He gets Animal Essentials Heart Health and Skullcap for seizure activity but that doesn't seem to be helping at all. He was diagnosed with Obstructive Cardio Myopathy when he was treated for the bladder struvite crystal blockage

Loss of Balance Average Cost

From 584 quotes ranging from $200 - $4,000

Average Cost

$850

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