Feline Vestibular Disease – stroke-like symptoms

My cat, Simon, had a lot of health issues toward the end of his life. One of them was that he developed feline vestibular disease around age 14. This issue made him act as though he either had a stroke, an ear infection, a balance issue or was just completely uncoordinated. His symptoms started with walking into walls – with the side of his body – like he would fall over into them. He would cry and wail and be completely unresponsive when I would call him or try to comfort him. He would also cock his head to the side and walk in circles.

At first, I suspected a stroke, but he recovered from the episode within a few hours so the vet ruled that out. It is expensive to try to diagnose a stroke and there isn’t much that can be done about it, so I chose not to pursue that line of testing. Simon did not have an ear infection and blood work was good so by process of elimination, the vet gave the diagnosis of vestibular disease. Unfortunately, these episodes would happen every once in a while, but knowing that the condition had a name and it was not life threatening was a huge relief. It seems that this disease may run in the DNA of Siamese cats and I always suspected Simon was part Siamese.

It seems that vestibular disease is not a diagnosis that first comes to mind for many vets. If your cat is experiencing these symptoms, you may want to mention this disease as a possible cause.

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