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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 most 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.

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
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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 greatly. All known causes are listed below.

  • 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. 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 disease, hyperthyroidism 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

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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dog-breed-icon

Feline

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Fifteen Years

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Unknown severity

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0 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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0 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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Persian cat

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Two Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Cat Had Stroke. Difficulty Eating And DrinkIng On Her Own

Hello The left side of my cats face seems to be paralyzed (unable to close one eye, no ear movement, left side of her mouth hangs lower) I’ve been administering eye lubricant, feeding by hand and water by syringe daily. She has so problem eating when it’s by hand, and seems excited. However when I set her food in front of her she will try to lower her head, wobble and tilt her head and sometimes make sneezing noises. I’ve seen her attempt to drink water on her own and then turn away. My question is, will she regain her ability to drink/eat on her own? It’s been 1 week.

Sept. 8, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello It sounds like your cat may have Horner's syndrome. This syndrome which is when there is a disruption of the nerve pathway from the brain to the face and eye. It can be the result of a stroke. It is recommended that you take her to a veterinarian for an exam. It can be temporary or permanent depending on the cause. Good luck.

Sept. 10, 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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0 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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Oliver

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short hair

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13 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Circling
Incontinence
Loss Of Balance
Loss Of Appetite
Trouble Walking
Engorged Organ
Behaviour Change

My cat oliver has been acting different for the past month or so, not cuddling or begging for food like usual and will lie on the couch in the same spot for hours on end. Sometimes he'd be unresponsive and recently obsessively cleaned himself. Seems that overnight something had happened, where he peed and pooped everywhere in the house and would sort of pee as he walked. He wouldn't eat, and hadnt drank water in two days. He seems to be dragging his back legs and cannot sit or lie down comfortably. We brought him to his vet and his condition appeared to deteriorate. His bladder was the size of a grapefruit and he was completely unresponsive, just stared blankly and seemed confused. He wouldn't even notice or smell food placed in front of him, respond to voice, or respond to pats. The vet thinks he has some major neurological issues possibly from stroke or disease. Oliver seems to be in quite a bit of pain too. Would you think that these symptoms could be from stroke? How likely do you think recovery would be?

Aug. 22, 2018

Oliver's Owner

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0 Recommendations

Stroke is a possibility but other conditions including trauma, poisoning and neurological disorders should be ruled out; without having a specific diagnosis I cannot give an indication of prognosis since we’re not sure what is causing these symptoms. Once a diagnosis has been made, you’ll get a better picture of the long term prognosis; it may be worth consulting a Neurologist to help narrow in on a diagnosis. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 22, 2018

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Ferris bueller

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Mix

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15 Years

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Moderate severity

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3 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Losing Balance, Walking In Circles,

Last night my cat I believe had a stroke. He lost his balance fell off a table and could only walk in circles. Today he’s eating and drinking a lot walking fine. Is it possible there’s something else wrong that would cause those systems?

Aug. 19, 2018

Ferris bueller's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3 Recommendations

A loss of balance and circling may be related to a few different conditions which may include vestibular disorders, inner ear infection, head trauma, stroke, poisoning, liver disease (hepatic encephalopathy) among other causes; keep an eye on Ferris Bueller for the time being and visit your Veterinarian if the symptoms persist or other symptoms present. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 20, 2018

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Squeaky

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DOMESTIC

dog-age-icon

15 Years

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Serious severity

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Crying, Back Legs Not Moving

I don't know what to think. Two days ago, I found my cat laying next to her bed and crying. I realized her back legs couldn't move and I think she had a stroke. I rushed her to the animal hospital. She was quiet in the car on the way there, almost like she wasn't in pain. When I got her to the hospital, they took her in and gave her a sedative to examine her. The doctor came out and told me that I was right, it was a stroke. She said the prognosis was not good. She said my cat had a heart murmur and the prognosis was not good. She said it was likely she would have another stroke again and that they could try to keep her there and give her blood thinners and treat her, but didn't know what would happen with her back legs and that she might have another stroke within 24 hours. They said the prescription would be $700 and the treatment $2000. They said the other option was to euthanize her. This cat was my child. I had her for 15 years and she never had any health problems prior to this. I did not have to money to pay for treatment, so I let them put her down, but I am questioning now if I did the right thing. My heart is broken and I will always wonder if she could have been saved. Has anyone else had this experience? I don't think I made the right decision and I am sick about it.

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Sebastian

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White Persian cat

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18 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Right Side Weakness

My 18 year old cat is a fearless, playful, life of the party type of cat. He loves everyone. I noticed he was acting strange. He was becoming very defiant with me and bullying my other cat. I was cooking chicken and he repeatedly tried to jump on the hot stove. The next evening when I came home from work he did not greet me. I found him hiding and covering his face. I asked him what was wrong and he looked surprised to see me. I had clearly startled him. Now this is another odd thing. For 18 years this cat has always waited for me to walk in the door and feed him. How on earth did I sneak in and scare him? Oh my goodness after I pulled him out of hiding I noticed his right eye was droopy, and he also had trouble with his front right leg . He vomited but tried to eat a little. I carried him around until I could get him to the vet the next day. His doctor noted 3rd cranial damage which correlated with his Ataxia. She also suspected an ischemic stroke. His urine and fecal sample was fine. They didn’t see any infection and no sign of dehydration. Kidneys and liver are also fine. They found a clot in his CBC lab which depleted his platelets. His vet recommended I pick up some multivitamins. It’s been four days since his stroke. He’s walking a lot better, but his appetite is poor . As soon as he eats a little I give him his vitamin. He seems to like them . His right eye is fully open again. He’s sleeping a lot more than usual. He wants to drink a lot of water and that’s really concerning me. Anyway I am sitting here crying my eyes out as i type this. I know my time is limited. I love him so much. I am not ready to say goodbye.

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Bells

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Orange tabby

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4 Years

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

Moderate severity

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Seizures
Vomiting
Loss Of Balance
Loss Of Appetite

I have a 4 year old orange tabby. He is normally an outdoor/ indoor cat. He has always been healthy, eats normal, plays normal, sleeps normal, ect. 2 days ago, I noticed he was hanging on to the edge of the porch swing with his head hung over, so I went to pick him up, and his back started to bend backwards and convulsing. I held him and calmed him down, and then took him to the vet. As I had suspected at the time, it was seizures. His toxicology report and urinalysis came back good. However, because I could not pay $600 upfront for him to be observed overnight, they sent him home. Yesterday, I noticed he had poor gait and balance on his left side, eyes going back and forth as though he had just jumped off a merry go round, no interest in water, very little appetite, projectile vomiting, and very little bathroom (litter box) use. He is aware of his surroundings, knows who me and my family are, very clingy (not so normal), and refuses to sleep anywhere besides the bed between my husband and I. He has tried to get up and walk and trying to maintain balance. I would suspect this would take a little while longer, but I let him try in minimal increments. Read more at: https://wagwalking.com/cat/condition/stroke

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Stoney

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tabby

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10 Months

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

Irritation
No Balance
Won’T Eat Or Drink.
Can Hardly Walk

My cat is 10 months Old so it was really out of the blue when it happened. She outright stopped eating and would drink a little. Could barely walk and would just lay in a ball. I took her to the vet and he said he thinks she had a stroke and there wasn’t anything I could do for her but put her down. I felt that wasn’t necessary. I didn’t want to give up on her. He gave her miritaz to try to get her to eat but nothing worked. I started force feeding her and giving her water. She gained all of her weight back, was starting to walk a little more, although wabbly. But she seemed happy and healthier. She started to seem better and then a month later the symptoms came back. Could hardly walk or even hold her head up, started having accidents and her eyes would twitch occasionally. She would make aweful cranky cat noises when we moved her. I think it was a stroke but I don’t know. I really don’t want to put her down but I don’t want to make her suffer. I’m so torn. She is so young

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Oreo

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Domestic shorthair

dog-age-icon

12 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

Lack Of Coordination

My 12yr old female cat was fine yesterday early morning and by yesterday at noon she quit eating and drinking. She could barely raise her head. When she had the strength last night to get up she was staggering around and would just fall down. She hasn't used her litter box in 24 hours and she doesn't seem to know who I am. Vet says if she doesn't improve in 72 hrs I will probably have to put her down.

Stroke Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$2,500

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