Neurological disorders in cats involve the nervous system and the brain. Certain neurological disorders are genetically predisposed. Others may develop due to environmental factors such as toxic reactions, trauma and injury. Since cats suffering from neurological disorders exhibit unusual symptoms, pet owners often fail to recognize these symptoms as neurological problems and reprimand the pet for behavior issues. Neurological disorders vary in severity and some may cause sudden collapse and death. Pets diagnosed with neurological conditions require additional attention and supportive care. Appropriate medication also helps control the symptoms to a great extent.
Types of Common Neurological Disorders in Cats Include:
- Diabetic neuropathy
- Myasthenia gravis
- Hyperthyroidism associated neurological disorders
Feline Diabetic Neuropathy
Feline diabetic neuropathy develops in cats susceptible to diabetes. Due to prolonged high blood glucose levels, the pet suffers from nerve damage and chronic nerve degeneration. Pets suffering from diabetic neuropathy exhibit visible symptoms such as weakness of the hind limbs, difficulty walking and walking on the toes. This disease can be controlled with medication, prescribed to control diabetes. Since high blood glucose levels can lead to emergency situations, the blood glucose should be monitored regularly. Pets may also benefit from dietary modification and supplementation.
This condition can be either acquired or genetically inherited. Pets suffering from myasthenia gravis experience muscle weakness due to improper nerve impulses. They also develop overall weakness and lethargy and may be at higher risk of developing pneumonia. Pets suffering from myasthenia gravis are treated with medicines such as ACh esterase inhibitors, prednisone and pyridostigmine bromide. Surgery may also be necessary if the condition is severe or unresponsive to medication.
Hyperthyroidism Associated Neurological Disorders
Cats suffering from hyperthyroidism may also develop certain neurological imbalances such as fatigue, tremors of the muscles, muscle pain and ventral neck flexion. Cats suffering from such symptoms are subjected to various diagnostic tests to rule out underlying health concerns. The pet may be prescribed corticosteroids or potassium supplements to treat the primary cause.
Epilepsy in Cats
Pets suffering from epilepsy develop seizures in varying intensities. Seizures occur due to abnormal nerve function in the brain. Cats may suffer from sudden collapse, stare blankly or exhibit uncontrolled muscle movement during the seizure. Pet owners should learn techniques to handle pets during seizures. Most cats are prescribed anticonvulsant medication for life to avoid future occurrences of seizures.
Diagnosis of Neurological Diseases in Cats
The vet will perform a thorough physical examination of the cat and look for any external abnormalities present. MRI scans may be necessary to determine internal abnormalities. However, since MRI scans are expensive and not readily available at every vet center they may not be performed on all pets. X-rays and ultrasounds also help identify internal tumors or health conditions that go unnoticed in blood tests. If the cause of neurological diseases such as seizures isn’t determined, the vet will prescribe medication to control the symptoms and recommend supportive care.
Cats suffering from neurological disorders require frequent follow up vet checks to evaluate response to treatment. Pets should also be kept in a stress free environment to increase their quality of life.
Oregon Veterinary Specialty Hospital (OVSH) has been serving the Portland and Beaverton area community since 1979. Drs. Steven F. Skinner (Neurology, Neurosurgery) and Robert T. Franklin (Internal medicine.) We welcome referrals from veterinarians all over the Pacific Northwest. Our goal is to help your pet regain health and live a long and happy life.
Oregon Veterinary Specialty Hospital
9339 SW Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy,
Beaverton, OR 97005.