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Feline Vestibular Syndrome

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Published on Jul 27, 2011

A series of video clips taken of my cat having an episode of feline vestibular syndrome (FVS). Although she's walking around in the video, she shortly thereafter became nearly immobile from the dizziness (actually falls down at 2:51). The closeups of her face around 3:00 display nystagmus (involuntary eye movement), one of the classic signs of vestibular syndrome. Other signs are head tilting (my cat is favoring her right shoulder here), staggering and falling, disorientation. There could be several causes (inner ear infection or polyp, mini-strokes, brain tumor/lesion, thiamine deficiency) including idiopathic (undetermined) which may resolve on its own. Taking the cat to a veterinary neurologist and having an MRI, though very expensive, may be the most conclusive method of treatment; however, the majority of cases are considered idiopathic.

During an episode, cats tilt their heads TOWARD the side of the brain that has a lesion or clot. Conversely the eyes may shift AWAY from that side of the brain. The neurologist only took an MRI of Cleo's right side of the brain because the symptoms indicated that's where the problem lay. When one side of the brain is affected, it is called Peripheral Vestibular Disease. It supposedly has a better prognosis for recovery than Central Vestibular Disease (more likely to be attributed to cancer or hemorrhaging).

I apologize for the terrible video quality. I have an old cell phone and it was the only handy thing available when Cleo was having this episode. Please see my Feline Vestibular Syndrome II video to see Cleo's condition 6 months later: https://youtu.be/kXw6QCybVi0

UPDATE 4/3/2014: I am sorry to report that Cleo passed away early this morning.

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