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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. 

Loss of balance in cats can be expensive to treat. If you suspect your cat has loss of balance or is at risk, start searching for pet insurance today. Brought to you by Pet Insurer, Wag! Wellness lets pet parents compare insurance plans from leading companies like PetPlan and Trupanion. Find the “pawfect” plan for your pet in just a few clicks!

Curious about which health plan is right for your dog? Head over to our breakdown of the best pet insurance plans.

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Loss of Balance Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$850

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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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tabby

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14 Years

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Unknown severity

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4 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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4 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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n/a

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Sixteen Years

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Unknown severity

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7 found helpful

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

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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7 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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Loss of Balance Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$850

Vet bills can sneak up on you.

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

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