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What is Stroke?

Strokes in cats can be either ischemic (the blood supply is cut off) or hemorrhagic (blood is leaked out into the brain). Blood vessel blockages often occur because materials have broken off elsewhere in the body and become stuck in the veins or arteries leading to the brain. Blood clotting problems can also create obstructions of blood to the brain. Trauma from injury may lead to the rupturing of blood vessels, allowing them to bleed out into the cranial area. Both genders seem to be affected by strokes equally. A stroke is a medical emergency and immediate veterinary care should be sought.

The brain of all mammals needs constant and consistent blood flow to operate properly. When a rupture or obstruction decreases the amount of blood supply to the brain, this depletes the brain's oxygen levels and leads to brain damage. In cats, this occurrence is often referred to as a Feline Ischemic Encephalopathy (FIE), or a stroke. It was long thought that cats did not experience strokes, however, advances in medicine have made it very clear that feline strokes do happen and are not uncommon. However, they can be over diagnosed by owners and it is important a cat is seen by a veterinarian to confirm the diagnosis.

Stroke Average Cost

From 238 quotes ranging from $500 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,500

Symptoms of Stroke in Cats

The signs of a stroke happening in a cat differ greatly from symptoms commonly noticed during a stroke in a human. Symptoms will rapidly manifest, with conditions holding steady after 24 hours. Signs to watch for are listed as follows:

  • Loss of balance 
  • Ataxia (unbalanced gait)
  • Circling
  • Confusion 
  • Depression 
  • Head tilting 
  • Aggression 
  • Fearfulness 
  • Behavioral changes 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of vision
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Causes of Stroke in Cats

For a number of reasons, strokes happen more often in outdoor cats during the summer. There are many underlying diseases that increase a cat's risk of stroke including:

  • Trauma to the head
  • Trauma to the body that dislodges fat or cartilage parts 
  • Genetic defects
  • Heart disease
  • Liver disease 
  • Kidney failure 
  • Diabetes 
  • Parasitic infection 
  • Ingestion of toxins
  • Hyperthyroidism 
  • Hypertension 
  • Hyperadrenocorticism 
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Diagnosis of Stroke in Cats

If you suspect your cat is exhibiting signs of a stroke, take it to a veterinary clinic or animal hospital at once. Be sure to provide the veterinarian with your cat's full medical history to assist in identifying possible underlying causes of the stroke. If your cat has suffered significant trauma from an injury, multiple life-threatening problems may need to be addressed at once to stabilize the animal. The veterinarian will perform a physical examination, checking for other injuries, enlargement of organs and other symptoms that may be present. 

Full blood work including a complete blood count and a biochemical profile will be needed to assess the cat's condition and identify potential underlying problems. Urinalysis can help reveal issues with the kidneys or the liver. Thyroid levels in the blood should be measured to see if hormonal disorders exist. Blood pressure must be measured. For a complete diagnosis, a CT scan or MRI will be needed to get a close and clear view of the compromised blood vessels. This may not be available in some areas. If a parasitic infection is suspected, a fecal sample may be collected for microscopic examination.

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Treatment of Stroke in Cats

The cat may need to be kept for observation to watch for possible signs of a second stroke occurring. If an underlying cause has been diagnosed, further treatment is generally required to address the issue. 

Supportive Care 

During the stroke and in the hours that follow, keeping the cat's condition stable can greatly affect the outcome of a stroke in a cat. This may involve administering intravenous fluids and giving anti-inflammatory medications to the cat. Hospitalization is required for this process. The goal is to keep the cat as comfortable as possible to promote healing.

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Recovery of Stroke in Cats

The prognosis of a cat who has experienced a stroke will vary depending on the primary issue that has caused the event to happen. Many health issues such as heart or liver diseasehyperthyroidism and diabetes will require life-long treatments. Kidney failure can carry a very guarded prognosis. Long-term medication prescriptions may be needed and the costs can add up. Any damage to the brain that has taken place in the first 24 hours is often permanent. If a vital area of the brain has been destroyed, the cat may need to be euthanized.

If the stroke has been identified and treated quickly, there is a good chance of a full recovery taking place. It may be best to keep your cat indoors to lower the chance of injury or parasite and poison exposure. Ensure all toxic materials are kept out of your cat's reach within the home. The recovery process may take a prolonged period of time and include a lot of vigorous physiotherapy and ongoing at-home care. 

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Stroke Average Cost

From 238 quotes ranging from $500 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,500

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Stroke Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Feline

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Fifteen Years

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Unknown severity

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4 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Hearing Loss

A few days ago my cat slept in the better part of the day, which is usual for her and woke to looking, acting groggy and weak. Walked in circles, could not jump or walk up a stair, head down, walked into walls, could not see my hand in front of her face and suddenly deaf. Took her to the vet who checked her eyes and gave her a couple of shots and said it could of been a stroke. Took her home and monitored her. Next day her vision was better but she still struggled, hearing still gone. Walking and managing steps and eating fine. Been to 2 more vets for tests.

Sept. 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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4 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay in my reply, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I'm sorry that happened, and it does seem likely that it may have been some sort of vascular event as it happened so suddenly. It would be best to follow up with your veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 20, 2020

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Grace

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tabby

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16 Years

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Moderate severity

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5 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Excessive Drinking, Not Eating

We recently had to put my cat down. 16 years old. Was very healthy 5-6 days before this whole thing happened. All of a sudden she started drinking a lot two bowls if possible then not eating and lost 2 pounds within 2 days. She didn’t act as if she was in pain at all but lost muscle in butt and looked sick in in the flanks. And acted not like her typical self. I just want to know if you think a stroke could have caused this. Also when we took her to vet she had a fever on top of that.

Sept. 24, 2018

Grace's Owner

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Stroke Average Cost

From 238 quotes ranging from $500 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,500

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