Stupor and Coma in Cats

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Stupor and Coma in Cats - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Stupor and Coma in Cats - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What is Stupor and Coma?

There’s a big difference between a deep sleep and a complete loss of consciousness. If you notice your cat losing consciousness, take him to a veterinarian right away, even if he recovers after a few minutes. The underlying health condition could be life-threatening, so it’s important to seek immediate medical attention to protect your cat.

At any time, cats are in one of five levels of consciousness, including normal, depressed, disoriented, stupor, and comatose. Although depressed states can result from minor illnesses, and disoriented states may be a sign of toxin ingestion or feline dementia, stupor and coma states are much more serious. A stupor is characterized by a temporary loss of consciousness that can be disrupted when the cat is exposed to strong stimuli, while a coma is a more long-term form of unconsciousness in which the cat does not respond to any type of stimuli. Both of these conditions indicate there is an underlying health condition that needs immediate treatment.

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Stupor and Coma Average Cost

From 337 quotes ranging from $200 - $10,000

Average Cost

$5,000

Symptoms of Stupor and Coma in Cats

A coma is the complete loss of consciousness, while a stupor is a decreased level of consciousness. If your cat is in a coma, he will be completely unconscious and unresponsive to sounds or touch. In a stupor, your cat may be slightly responsive to sound or touch, however, the stimulus must be strong, such as a hard pinch. Stupors are temporary, so your cat may snap out of it after a short period of time, while comas are generally long-lasting. Besides loss of consciousness, some other symptoms you may observe include:

  • Low body temperature
  • Breathing abnormalities
  • Heartbeat abnormalities
  • Nervous system abnormalities
  • Discoloration of the skin
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Causes of Stupor and Coma in Cats

Falling into a stupor or coma signals an underlying health condition that needs to be addressed by a veterinarian immediately. Some of the causes your vet may need to test for include:

  • Head trauma
  • Seizures
  • Heart failure
  • Kidney failure
  • Reaction to drugs
  • Poisoning
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Brain infections
  • Side effects of diabetes
  • Brain tumors
  • Low blood pressure
  • Abnormal levels of sodium in the blood
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Diagnosis of Stupor and Coma in Cats

You should bring your cat to a veterinarian the moment you begin to notice him losing consciousness. Tell your vet when the cat began to lose consciousness, and any other symptoms you may have observed. If your cat is fading in and out of consciousness in a stupor, try to estimate how long each incident lasts and how many times he has been unconscious. If your cat has recently started taking any new medications or using new products, mention this to the doctor so he knows whether it could be a reaction to something the cat has been exposed to. It’s also important to tell the doctor if it’s possible your cat has consumed something toxic—for example, if he had access to an open bottle of household cleaner.

The vet will first determine what state of consciousness the cat is in: normal, depressed, disoriented, stupor, or comatose. Normal means the cat is reacting to their environment as expected, while depressed means the cat prefers to sleep, but is still responsive. A disoriented state is characterized by excessive sleeping with abnormal responses to stimuli. Cats in a stupor only respond to strong stimuli, while cats in a coma do not respond to any form of stimuli. 

Once the level of consciousness has been determined, the vet will most likely test the cat’s reflexes. The vet will look at the pupillary light reflex by shining a light into each of the cat’s eyes and observing the reaction of the pupil. Other reflexes that may be tested include the spinal reflexes and oculocephalic reflexes.

The vet may then suggest a complete blood count, urinalysis, and biochemistry profile to assess the cat’s overall health. The results of these tests could show if the cat is suffering from an infection, organ failure, or sodium or blood sugar imbalance. In addition to these tests, the vet may perform a CT scan or MRI of the head to look for signs of trauma or tumors. An EKG may also be done to check the cat’s heart health.

All of these tests will help the doctor determine what is causing the stupor or coma so it can be properly treated. 

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Treatment of Stupor and Coma in Cats

Treatment will depend on the cause of the stupor or coma. Short-term treatment to stabilize the cat’s consciousness may include inserting an IV with fluids, monitoring the cat’s heart rate closely, and supporting the cat with a constant stream of oxygen.

After the cat has been stabilized with this short-term care, the treatment will focus on resolving the underlying health condition. If the loss of consciousness was a result of some sort of imbalance, such as low blood sugar or sodium, the vet may be able to resolve the issue with the IV fluids. Seizures will need to be treated with anticonvulsant medication, which can be given to the cat in the vet’s office, but will then need to be administered on a daily basis by the cat’s owner afterward. 

If the vet believes the cat has ingested a drug or toxic substance, activated charcoal may be administered. Charcoal will enter the cat’s system and begin to absorb the chemicals before they make it into the bloodstream to do more harm. The vet may also induce vomiting to remove the toxic substance or harmful drug from the cat’s body. However, these interventions can only occur when the cat is no longer in a stupor.

Some causes, such as head trauma, brain tumors, and heart failure may not be something we can cure. If the vet suspects head trauma is the cause, the cat’s head will be elevated at a 20-degree angle to prevent fluids from building up in the brain. Surgery may be able to treat these causes, but the success rate will vary, so it’s important to speak with your veterinarian to learn more before you make a decision.

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Worried about the cost of Stupor And Coma treatment?

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Recovery of Stupor and Coma in Cats

The time it takes for your cat to recover will depend on the cause of the stupor or coma. The vet will most likely ask that you leave the cat with them so they can continue to monitor his vital signs and help him regain consciousness. While under the vet’s care, the cat will be hooked up to ventilators, IVs, and feeding tubes if required, to ensure he is properly taken care of. The cat may regain consciousness while under the vet’s care, but that doesn’t mean he will be released to you right away. Vets will usually continue to monitor the cat’s vital signs until they are confident the cat has fully recovered.

Once your cat is back home with you, it’s important to administer medication as advised by the veterinarian. Make sure the cat is comfortable in your home while he continues to regain his strength. If you have other pets, keep them away from the cat until the vet says it’s ok for them to interact again. The vet may advise you to move the cat’s water and food bowls closer to limit the cat’s activity. 

You will need to keep a close eye on your cat so you can monitor his behavior and call a veterinarian if you notice anything unusual.

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Stupor and Coma Average Cost

From 337 quotes ranging from $200 - $10,000

Average Cost

$5,000

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Stupor and Coma Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Half-'Stash

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stray

dog-age-icon

10 Months

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7 found helpful

thumbs-up-icon

7 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Seizures, Coma

Our 10 month old male cat was diagnosed with FI P on Tuesday. He already had some balance use issues but he was still eating, drinking,peeing,pooping. He was wobbly but running, jumping.The vet gave him prednisone and an antibiotic and said maybe this will give him a little help as far as pain,etc. But there is nothing more that can be done. This was his second trip to get vet in less than 2 weeks. 1st time they said he was anemic and had conjunctivitis but didn't see anything wrong and didn't see anything wrong with his walking. After he had a seizure on Wednesday we carried him back and got the dry fip diagnosis. After his first dose of prednisone the seizures got worse. Supposed to take it every 12 hrs. Beginning at 230a.m. On the 19th until mid night Stash had 16 seizures. Didn't give him any med on the 20 th seizures dropped in intensity and plenty to 11that day. He was walking better, eating,etc with the meds but I did call get to see if we couldn't give him something for the seizures because we know he's terminal. Was basically told no. Friday I think he went into a coma. Seizing every 30minutes to an hour( after restating prednisone), limp, eyes put unresponsive to anything. Only sounds made are at the end of the seizures which are not as intense or long. We've been using an eyelash solutions to keep his eyes from crying out, giving him water with a dropper, and giving him a high caloric suplement. By midnight last night by started moving his eyes a little, a little more responsive to touch and will close his right eye. He has had fevers, and we have had to really look to see if he was breathing. How is this little guy still alive? I know that he is aware of me sometimes because after he settled after a seizure,he reached with his law until I hold it. He would do this before he got sick. I'm pretty sure there is brain damage. Sometime his eyes are dilated at different sizes of one is and the other isnt. I'm not looking for a miracle cure. I've had cats with fi P before but they had set fip. 1st time to see dry. Can we do something for the seizures? I know euthanasia would be kinder, but he is still fighting, otherwise he would be gone besides my husband doesn't want to because he sees it as giving up. He doesn't want him to die in a place he's terrified of. What now?

Sept. 22, 2018

Half-'Stash's Owner

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Mishmish

dog-breed-icon

british

dog-age-icon

4 Years

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0 found helpful

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0 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Eye Bleeding

My cat had an eye surgery and during the surgery he reacted to porpofol anesthesia and died after cpr he went into a coma at first he used to react to touch but now he does not react and he cannot breathe on his own and then a few hours later he started twitching and having seizures. The seizures are gone now it is the second day he is unconscious but still cant breathe on his own and does not react to anything. His eyes are open but they twitch a bit. Mind you a couple of years ago he had a surgery and a dif vet did anesthesia and the cat did not react to it at all he was fine. Why did this happen now and what are the chances that he will come out of it and regain consciousness? Help

Sept. 5, 2018

Mishmish's Owner

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Stupor and Coma Average Cost

From 337 quotes ranging from $200 - $10,000

Average Cost

$5,000

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