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What is Unintentional Eye Movement?

The technical term for unintentional eye movement in cats is called nystagmus. Nystagmus as a symptom of vestibular syndrome in cats is typically caused by mild trauma to or a disease of the vestibular apparatus, located inside the cat’s ear. The vestibular apparatus is responsible for helping cats maintain their balance and coordination.

Involuntary eye movement in cats is often part of feline vestibular syndrome. This disorder of the nervous system will cause your cat to become less coordinated than usual, and may result in your cat falling to one side, walking unsteadily, or struggling to balance normally.

Unintentional Eye Movement Average Cost

From 441 quotes ranging from $200 - $4,000

Average Cost

$1,000

Symptoms of Unintentional Eye Movement in Cats

If your cat is suffering from involuntary eye movement, it is likely that the eye movement is indicative of vestibular disease or another type of trauma disease. Look for the symptoms to occur suddenly and often over the course of one hour. The symptoms can include:

  • Ataxia, or the sudden loss of control over body movement
  • Tilting of the head
  • Vomiting
  • Eyes darting rapidly back and forth
  • Drooping of the face (usually associated with tumors or an inflamed inner ear)

Types

While the symptoms may not seem very serious, it is important to take your cat to the vet as soon as you begin to notice them. Nystagmus is not fatal, but it can be indicative of a more serious health problem, such as:

  • Progressive retinal atrophy (deterioration of the retina)
  • Hyperviscosity syndrome (thickening of the blood)
  • Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)
  • Fungal infection
  • Head trauma
  • Nasopharyngeal polyps (growths in the throat, ear, and mouth)
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Causes of Unintentional Eye Movement in Cats

The causes of unintentional eye movement in cats are not entirely understood at present. Most diagnoses of vestibular disease are determined to have an unknown cause. However, it appears that nystagmus as a symptom of vestibular syndrome is primarily caused by ear infections. For older cats, tumors may also be a potential culprit. It is also important to note that several cats that are affected by the syndrome are deaf.

Additionally, Siamese and Burmese cats can exhibit symptoms of vestibular syndrome, as it is often inherited at birth for these breeds.

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Diagnosis of Unintentional Eye Movement in Cats

Currently, there are no special tests that your vet will conduct in order to determine whether or not your cat is suffering from vestibular disease. The vet will likely want to watch your cat try to move around, and is likely to ask how long your cat has been showing symptoms. They will also want to know your cat’s medical history, so be sure to provide them with this information.

Standard procedure for diagnosing vestibular syndrome is to perform neurological and ear examinations. If tumors or a more serious health problem are suspected causes, the vet may utilize other tests, including an MRI, an X-ray of the skull, cultures of the ear, or blood and urine tests.

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Treatment of Unintentional Eye Movement in Cats

The appropriate course of treatment will depend on the underlying cause, if one is discovered.

Tumors

If nystagmus and overall vestibular syndrome are a result of a tumor, the vet or surgeon will likely perform a biopsy, followed by surgical removal of the tumor, if required. In some cases, laser surgery is used. Malignant tumors may also be treated with chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Tumors usually affect middle-aged and older cats.

Ear or Fungal Infection

Feline ear infections are typically treated with a course of antibiotics. Anti-fungal medications are also available to treat fungal infections. Severe and recurring cases of ear infection may require surgical treatment.

No Known Cause

A course of treatment will be prescribed based on the severity of symptoms. If your cat is vomiting or having trouble eating, your vet may prescribe medications that reduce vomiting. It is also essential that you monitor your cat while they eat, as they may experience difficulties.

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Recovery of Unintentional Eye Movement in Cats

Fortunately, vestibular syndrome that has no known cause is usually a temporary condition that resolves on its own. The unintentional eye movement should clear up within a few days. In most cases, it won’t come back.

However, if your cat’s involuntary eye movement is a symptom of a more serious disease, the prognosis will depend on the method of treatment and the disease itself. For cats that experience recurring ear infections, invasive surgery may be required. This surgery may involve removing important parts of the ear, which can result in a loss of hearing.

If nystagmus is a result of a tumor, the prognosis is relatively good compared to that of other types of tumors. Cats that have ear tumors and are treated with a thorough surgery typically won’t have a recurring tumor for about three and a half years. The tumor recurrence rate is 25 percent.

If the nystagmus does not resolve on its own within a week, take your cat back to the vet immediately.

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Unintentional Eye Movement Average Cost

From 441 quotes ranging from $200 - $4,000

Average Cost

$1,000

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Unintentional Eye Movement Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Jezebel

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Domestic long hair

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9 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Eye Twitch

My cat randomly got a really bad eye twitch. She's been overly sneezing and they eye twitch just started and she had no control over her right side of her face.

Sept. 5, 2018

Jezebel's Owner

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Shadow

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Long leg short domistic cat

dog-age-icon

2 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Dizzy ,
Dizzy , Eye Movement

Yesterday morning ihad woke up to find my cat looking drunk dizzy and her eyes were staring at me but also moving back and forth . I rang the vets and she is in there care now but I'm so worries as she is only about 1 and a half years of age . And was so happy and healthy the day before . She was responding to her name and knew who I was and where she was before she went but just knew she wasn't right .

Aug. 27, 2018

Shadow's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

It is difficult to say specifically what has occurred to Shadow since these symptoms may be attributable to a few different conditions which may include head trauma, poisoning, neurological conditions among other conditions; without examining Shadow I cannot start to narrow in on a possible cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 27, 2018

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Felix

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DOMESTIC

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4 Months

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Blindness
Eye Twitching
Eye Ulcers

My 4 month old kitten had mild trauma to the head during a car incident when I picked him up. He had severe ulcers in his eyes, and in the right eye he is blind. I just noticed that the whole right eye is twitching, and I don’t know if it just started or if I just started noticing it.

July 1, 2018

Felix's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Any case of head trauma should be seen by a Veterinarian immediately, some symptoms or issues from a traumatic head injury may not present right again and may be delayed weeks or months. Without examining Felix, I cannot determine the overall severity; so you should keep an eye on him for now and visit your Veterinarian on Monday morning. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 1, 2018

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Snowball

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No idea

dog-age-icon

3 Months

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Sudden Eye Movement

I recently just got a kitten from a bad home life. He is not social at all but that’s not really my concern right now. His eyes seem to move from left to right quite often but he isn’t having any trouble eating , nor is he throwing up. We are going to take him to the vet sometime soon but I would really like some feedback on this. Thank you !

June 30, 2018

Snowball's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Some kittens are born with cerebellar issues, or he may have had a trauma that caused a brain injury. If he is eating well and not vomiting and seems to get around okay, it may not be anything that you need to treat and he may adapt to it. It would be important if he does have a neurologic problem that he stay inside, and your veterinarian can let you know what might be going on when you have his appointment.

June 30, 2018

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Smokey

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Man coon

dog-age-icon

2 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Head Tilt
Eyes Shaking Not Eating Or Drinking

We have a cat that is about 2 years old. Today we noticed his eyes shaking from side to side and he can't stand . His head is also tilting from side to side. He refuses to eat or drink. Even with a syringe. What do I do and what could be causing this.

June 18, 2018

Smokey's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

It sounds like Smokey may have a vestibular issue which may be caused by an ear infection, inflammation, trauma, poisoning among other causes; however without examining Smokey I cannot say for certain. You should keep an eye on him, but I would recommend visiting your Veterinarian if you are unable to get him to eat or drink. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 19, 2018

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Momma

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Tortoiseshell

dog-age-icon

5 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Falling Over
Not Eating Or Drinking
Rapid Eye Movement
Unable To Stand Or Walk
Not Using Potty

My cat age unknown started walking funny and falling over. She had just been to the vet for sinusitis and finished her meds. A week later is when she started this new stuff. She hasn't gone potty since this morning I did get her to eat very little and drink very little. Her eyes are darting left to right fast and her nose is wet. I also noticed some scabs in her right ear, but not sure how or when it happened. I have put her in a dog kennel to keep her safe from falling. It presents as a Neuro issue.

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Ashes

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Siamese

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4 Months

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

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Uncontrollable Eye Movements
Crosseyeed

I found a four-month-old Siamese cat outside my house one day since I brought her in she has had uncontrollable Eye movements I have a feeling there’s nothing wrong with her because I read Siamese cats are usually cross side and have uncontrollable eye movements but just in case I am taking her to the vet today

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Mya

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Siamese

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1 Year

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

Eye Bleeding
Eyes Dart

Our cats eyes dart back and forth very slightly but it is all of the time whether she is resting or concentrating on something. She is a Siamese/torti mix only a year and 4months old. I got her when she was 6 weeks old and she was fixed at 4months old. We have noticed her eyes moving in the past few months but could have been her whole life. She came from a rescue that got her family from a kill shelter just after she was born, no history of abuse the they know of before they were rescued. No lose of coordination, no head shaking, beautiful cat but can be skittish and easily startled but she can hear me opening cat treats bag from anywhere in the house.

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Marco

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domestic short hair

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6 Months

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

Nystagmus, Seizure,Instability

I took my 6 month old kitten in to be neutered and vaccinated, he seemed to do well, I brought him home within 5 hours of surgery, he seemed fine. after being home 21/2 hours he had a seizure and remained curled to the right for an hour, he finally straightened out, but then had nystagmus and listed to the right with right sided weakness. I was told the anesthetic was Isoflurane and he had a Rabies and CVR plus feline Leukemia booster. Have you ever heard of these vaccines causing these symptoms? Dm/Casper

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Aries

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Short hair domestic

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3 Months

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

Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Dizziness

I adopted my 3 month old Aries 2 weeks ago. She went to the vet Friday and they said she had an ear infection and a yeast infection. I got antibiotics for her ears. This morning Monday she was shaking and her balance was off and she hadn't eaten or pooped.I took her to the vet and they couldn't pin point the issue. They switch her antibiotics and showed me how to force does her this high calorie food. I just hate seeing her like this. I wish I knew what was wrong.

Unintentional Eye Movement Average Cost

From 441 quotes ranging from $200 - $4,000

Average Cost

$1,000

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