Jump to section

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 Alzheimer’s disease or 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.

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 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
arrow-up-icon

Top

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
arrow-up-icon

Top

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 not experiencing any issues, 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 see 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 on 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. 

arrow-up-icon

Top

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 ventilator that provides 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. 

Some causes, such as head trauma, brain tumors, and heart failure may be untreatable. 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.

arrow-up-icon

Top

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 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.

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Stupor and Coma Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$5,000

arrow-up-icon

Top

Stupor and Coma Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

Petal

dog-breed-icon

Short hair domestic

dog-age-icon

1 Year

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

Critical severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

No Move
No Movement, No Sound, No Teactio
No Movement, No Sound, No Reaction

I found my one year old female farm cat laying on the ground this morning. She was cold, wet and not moving. Her eyes wouldn’t open and she made no sound. When I touched her, her head would arch towards her back. I brought her in, warmed her up and wrapped her in a towel. She still wouldn’t respond to me or open her eyes. My vet refused to see her because he said it was antifreeze poisoning and the other vet I called said they would have to run blood and fecal tests, plus X-rays of the whole body. She is laying on the heating pad and I’m trying to keep her comfortable. It’s like she is full on comatose. What could have caused this?

July 9, 2018

Petal's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

There are many possible causes for the symptoms presenting here which may include poisoning, trauma, exposure to the elements among other causes; without examining her I cannot say what the cause is, but if it is caused by antifreeze (ethylene glycol) there are treatments which could help. Farms are dangerous places for animals with machinery, poisons, falls from heights, wild animals, snakes, spiders etc… Without examining Petal I cannot really confirm a diagnosis (legally) but would continue trying to keep her warm and see if she starts to come round. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 10, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Bowie

dog-breed-icon

Burmilla

dog-age-icon

9 Months

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

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Stupor

Bowie had trauma to the head and was taken to vet. His throat was swollen so they inserted a port so he could be fed as had not eaten in about six days. He had a heart attack after surgery (apparently after tube in throat taken out). He was put on an oxygen mask after that and then in an oxygen room. His owner took him home and a week later is still waiting for him to wake up. He meows and opens eyes after stimulation but falls back to sleep. I worry that his muscles will waste as well as he has not pooed. is it dangerous that he doesn’t poo although he is asleep. I guess he won’t until he moves around but he not as yet. why do you think he has not woken yet. He is holding head up more and eyes open better but only when picked up and roused. Is it cruel to keep him going or do we give him more time to recover? I would like some advise if you can help? I am hoping owner will get him looked over again soon. I worry about a stretched colon. Is it normal and does it take this long for cat to respond more ??? Thank you

May 29, 2018

Bowie's Owner


answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

I cannot comment on Bowie's condition without knowing more about him. If he suffered a head trauma, it may be something that he never recovers from, or he may recover. Since he has been seen by a veterinarian, it would be best to ask them about his quality of life and expectation for recovery, as they know his condition and have seen him. There is probably a point where it is cruel to keep him alive this way.

May 29, 2018

Thanks for advice.

May 31, 2018

Bowie's Owner

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Yan

dog-breed-icon

Unknown

dog-age-icon

1 Year

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

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Lack Of Appetite

Hi my about 1 year old cat stopped eating and drinking yesterday. Physically she looks find. No broken bones or injuries that I can find. No discoloration in her eyes or abnormalities at all. She just lays down and she'll look at me when I touch her but otherwise she has no response at all. What could be wrong with her?

May 27, 2018

Yan's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Without examining Yan, it would be very difficult for me to determine the cause of her symptoms; trauma, poisoning, foreign objects, gastrointestinal obstruction among other issues may lead to this sudden change in behaviour. You should visit your Veterinarian for an examination on Monday for a check if there is no improvement. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

May 28, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Matti

dog-breed-icon

Siamese cat

dog-age-icon

4 Weeks

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

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Sweating Paws
Sweating Paws, Unconcious
Sweating Paws, Unconcious, Bumps

My 4week old orphaned kitten is unconcious,open eyes but breathing. Upper feet not moving. Paws are all sweating. No vets available by this time. What can we do?

April 28, 2018

Matti's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

At this point it is difficult to say what the underlying cause for these symptoms are, it is important to know why this is happening so that it may be managed or treated. For the time being you should monitor Matti and take him to any Veterinarian (emergency?) that you have within a two hour radius of your home for attention. I cannot give you any practical at home advice as there is none. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

April 29, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Rambler

dog-breed-icon

Unknown

dog-age-icon

Seven Years

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

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Twitching
Comatose
Unconscious

Hello I have a seven year old tuxedo cat adopted from a liquor store about two months ago. His eye sockets have been empty for as long as I've known him. Last n night he injestes very rusty water. I was able to get him to drink sweetened warm milk and he vomited and drank more but now he is completely unconscious. I'm keeping him warm but I've no clue what to do. I've no money for a vet.

Feb. 14, 2018

Rambler's Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. Without examining Rambler, I don't know what might be wrong with him. He needs medical attention. Many veterinarians offer a 'free first exam' that you may be able to use to at least have him seen. I hope that he is okay.

Feb. 14, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Fighter

dog-breed-icon

Not sure

dog-age-icon

2 Weeks

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

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Tired
Falling Over
Unstable
Falling In And Out Of Stupor

My kitten(maybe a couple weeks old) was accidentally stepped on. The room was dark and my niece didn't know he was in the floor. I think she squished his head, or maybe his middle. He's very off balance and falling in and out of stupors. He still responds to my touch. We couldn't get him to nurse off of his mother so we fed him ourselves. He took some milk and that seemed to give him enough energy to get up and move around,but he's very uncordinated. Can barely use one side of his body, and he tires out pretty fast. He's also twitching his tail a lot, like he's frustrated or maybe feeling playful. I can't afford to go to the vet, but I'm hoping I can nurse him back to health myself. Can anyone tell me what may be going on, advice on how to take care of him? I am so scared he's going to die, even though he seems to be fighting the pain and wanting to live.

dog-name-icon

Chairman Meow

dog-breed-icon

Siamese

dog-age-icon

12 Years

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

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Almost Permanent Sleep

Our cat (15lb Siamese hand me down farm cat, fixed) let out a loud shriek (or something did), ran out to find him laying on the backlawn (11pm) with some fur around him on the ground. Obviously hurt real badly, he let out a few gnarly meows and then went unconscious. I grabbed him like mother cats do as tho not to get clawed or bit, and brought him in. He had no obvious injuries but a tiny poke on his neck, possibly from another fight with the neighbors tom cat, which has been hanging around on account of this stray female which just recently showed up... He was barely breathing and he crawled under a chair, I figured to die. I put a little blanket on him and he actually crawled out from under it, just wants to be left alone. Shallow breathing continued and he made it through the night, I quit watching him at 3am... Read up some on the net and talked to the local vet, who said he might have a severe concussion or even cranial hemorrhage? He's been "sleeping" ever since, no food or water or bathroom functions, he's never even meowd once, this is such an amazing cat, always has been. I've got his head elevated in case of fluid, he's always loved a pillow anyway. Yesterday, all the sudden, he got up and wanted to go out in the sun, stayed out there til it rained. He's totally defenseless and any stray dog could kill him right now, not he doesn't appear to be in any pain, just sleeping. I know I've been to a vet, and they want to put saline in your cat like right now (read $$$), but the country farm vet I talked to said don't worry about water, he's seen cats trapped in buildings for over a week without water and they "conserve" their water. Also, never feed or water your cat in this state. We didn't know that and kept offering it to him, not interested. As always, the cat is smarter than we are. Just wanted to share this here. I don't know if he'll ever pull out of it, just gotta hope. The vet said about the only thing they could do is give him a shot of steroids, no thx... He's actually improving a little tiny bit at all times.

dog-name-icon

Roman

dog-breed-icon

domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

6 Weeks

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

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Eyes Won’T Open

My kitty is around 6 weeks old, still with mama, he was playing around an electrical cord and we think we might a bit he, he went limp and started freaking out on one side. Rushed him to a vet and they had no idea what was going on. Kept him over night but didn’t see much going on. He was breathing on his own, color looked good. He won’t open his eyes, his mouth is always open. He doesn’t like laying on side. He can barely eat. We have to bottle feed him.

Stupor and Coma Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$5,000

How can we help your pet?