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Sudden onset wobbling/staggering

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

My 12-13 y/o kitty, Layla, presented staggering and falling behavior this morning around 11:30 AM (just a few hours ago). She was 100% fine last night at 2AM. She was in the other room sleeping on the couch, and came in to the room I was in when she heard me putting out food for her. She was able to leap up on to the counter to get to the bowl, but then started wobbling and staggering. I had to right her a couple of times. She was fully conscious while this was happening, still went to her bowl (and did stumble while at her bowl).

I, of course, was very alarmed by these symptoms and changed all my plans and took her to the vet. $250 later, we're doing a urinalysis (checking to see if an old infection finally cleared up) and blood work. He checked her eyes and rolled her over on to her belly to see if she could right herself (she could) The vet did hear a heart murmur - she's had one in the past and thinks it might be a bit stronger now. He checked her ears and thought it was too soon to say if it was an inner ear infection.

He told me to watch her today, call him if she does it any more (which she has been, so I'll call him this afternoon), and he'll call me tomorrow with the test results. He said I might need to take her to a neurologist.

To me, it's definitely some kind of balance/rear leg issue. I held a treat over her head and she tried to stand up on her hind legs to get it, and she wobbled and couldn't really do it (she normally loves to do that). She seems hesitant to jump now and really just wants to lay down, so I'm just keeping her next to me and will feed/water her in a little bit.

I researched a little bit online and saw something called geriatric vestibular syndrome - could that be what this is? What else could it be? My poor girl.
post #2 of 22
Thread Starter 
She seems a bit better today - I wouldn't say 100% but she's definitely looking better than yesterday. Anxious to get the lab results.
post #3 of 22
Vestibular syndrome is an inner ear infection. Often mimic symptoms of stroke, which also could be. My first thought reading your first post is Stroke.

I hope your vet ordered thyroid checked too, t-4 is very important. Blood pressure should also be taken.

hyperthyroid disease and high blood pressure can lead to stroke. Vestibular disease is usually treated with antibiotic.

I'm not a vet, but have experience with all of these.

Please keep us posted on your Layla

Layla
post #4 of 22
I ve had a couple cats with the feline vestibular syndrome. It is scarey to watch, but was treated successfully.

I hope you get to the bottom of what is wrong.
post #5 of 22
she seems to better today
post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 
Blood work came back OK except for one slightly elevated liver enzyme. Vet doesn't think it's related, just an incidental finding. She still does have a bit of a UTI, doesn't think that's related, either.

I don't know if the thyroid was included on the bloodwork.. next time I talk to my vet, I'll ask.

He said I should take her to an internal medicine specialist at one of the veterinary hospitals for the whole battery of tests and stuff (MRI I guess?). I brought up vestibular, and he said it could be that, but if it was his cat, he'd just go ahead and take her for the tests. He mentioned the words "brain tumor" which definitely freaked me out..

She is definitely better today but still not 100%. Definitely walking and jumping better, but still wobbly. Isn't falling down as much. Still prefers to just stay in one spot (she's usually walking all over, walking up the stairs, etc). I wouldn't say she's disoriented.. but she's just not "right." She's eating and drinking, but hasn't pooed since Tuesday night.. definitely having trouble in the litterbox making the tight turns and stuff.
post #7 of 22
Uti in humans has some odd symptoms like making the perosn"crazy" happens alot in women... So it could be connected
post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 
We're doing 1 week of Clindamycin to treat for a possible ear infection as the cause (her ears are EXTREMELY itchy and painful, I think it's due to the food she's on - but more on that another time). After a week, we'll re-do the bloodwork (her ALT liver enzyme is what was high). If she's still not 100%, we'll go to a neurologist. I was all set to make the appointment for this weekend but the vet didn't think that waiting a week would be a bad thing, so we're treating for the most benign thing first.

She's not stumbling as much today, but still not right. Are there any possible orthopedic/physical reasons? The one thing I will say is that my vet didn't really check her legs or neck or back or anything. She took a fall the night before after jumping off of an unsteady surface (she was fine), I'm just wondering if they could be connected.. do cats get slipped disks or things like that?
post #9 of 22
I'm glad Layla is on the antibiotic for the ear infection, and the Clindamycin will treat the urinary tract infection too.

Did your vet notice any nystagmus in the eyes? (they eye will be moving back and forth or up and down).

If it was a stroke she may recover, though it might take some time, my Ootay recovered fully from her first stroke, and if it is vestibular disease I think they usually start showing improvement in a few days.

I'm glad the blood work is okay. Did they take her blood pressure? Don't forget to ask about the thyroid. Ask for a copy of the blood work for your own records, too.

Keep us posted on Layla.
post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaylaCat View Post
She's not stumbling as much today, but still not right. Are there any possible orthopedic/physical reasons? The one thing I will say is that my vet didn't really check her legs or neck or back or anything. She took a fall the night before after jumping off of an unsteady surface (she was fine), I'm just wondering if they could be connected.. do cats get slipped disks or things like that?
A fall could certainly cause some bruising or a muscle strain. If she has arthritis it could be aggravated by a fall. If you think back have you noticed her not being as active, or maybe not jumping up on things as much as she used to? Hesitating before a jump? And there is that fall.


And yes cats can get spinal injuries.
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
Otto, he did look in to her eyes with a light, but didn't mention seeing any weird movement. He asked me several times whether I had noticed anything up and down movement, and I told him I hadn't. He told me to watch really closely any time she stumbled or fell to see whether her eyes did anything like that. I haven't seen anything. I feel like I may have noticed a dilation of her pupils but it could just me from her getting nervous/trying to regain her balance.. I don't see her eyes randomly alternating between being dilated and not dilated or anything like that.

They didn't take her blood pressure but I am going to write myself a note to mention it at the next visit, as well as doing a thyroid panel on the next blood test.

I haven't really noticed any reluctance or hesitance to jump - the night before all of this happened, she was acting normal, climbing the stairs, jumping on to the table and countertop, etc. I didn't know about the falling incident she had until my sister told me about it. I mentioned another fall-type incident to him (my sister and Layla kind of ran in to each other on the stairs - she didn't fall down them, but it kind of propelled her faster) but I guess based on her symptoms he didn't think it was anything like that.

One thing I did notice and I told my vet about was an on and off weird movement of her front wrist area. Like when she was standing, it'd "teeter" back and forth a little. It didn't hinder her movement at all, though, and she didn't seem stiff or arthritic, so I didn't think much of it.

I really, really appreciate your responses. I'm trying not to be, but I'm upset and worried about her. I can't even imagine something happening to her.
post #12 of 22
Thread Starter 
4 days later, and Layla is doing a whole lot better. I wouldn't say she's 100%, but she's walking upright (not crouching), moving around more, eating better, etc. She didn't stumble much yesterday and just stumbled a little this morning. Unfortunately, she threw up last night, but that's not surprising for her.

I guess that this either means that a) the antibiotics are working or b) she has something that's intermittent. Vet appt. on Thursday.
post #13 of 22
Thanks for the update. If I had to guess I'd say she had Vestibular disease and the antibiotic is helping.

Keep us posted on Layla.
post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 
I sure will keep you posted! The only problem I'm running in to now is that she seems to be vomiting right after receiving the Clindamycin. I really don't want her to keep vomiting up her food because she's underweight as it is but she also does need to get these doses of medicine. Going to try to give her another dose later after she digests some. If that doesn't work, we'll be on the phone with the vet again..

Either way, I am relieved that it doesn't seem to be anything like a brain tumor or neurological disease. We're probably going to have to wind up switching her food as it has contributed to the build up in her ears, which IS a pretty daunting task for a cat with several food intolerances, but we'll manage, I think.
post #15 of 22
There is a certain very specific B vitamin that helps cats with weak legs. It might be worth looking into if the problem returns.
post #16 of 22
Talk to your vet about compounding the drug.If you have a pharmacy in your area that will compound drugs they can change the form of the drug into a paste that you just rub on the ear flap.
post #17 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the ideas, guys.

I went to the vet today, he gave me Mometomax drops to put in her ears. He said she has no nystagmus in here eyes and "doesn't look neurologic at all."

She looks a LOT more comfortable after getting the first dose - no itching and scratching and very, very active, jumping all over the place!

RE: The antibiotics.. I told him I was giving her Pepcid before giving the antibiotic and that it seemed to help some. He said I can cut the dosage in half, just as long as she finishes all of the pills.

He repeated the ALT liver enzyme test to see if that number is still high. He DID test her thyroid the last time, and he said it's 100% fine.

Said he'd like to see her back in a couple of weeks. He said NOT to change the food right now until we are 100% sure that she's fine.

Will keep you guys posted.
post #18 of 22
Thread Starter 
Vet called with ALT repeat results and said the value did not change (unfortunately, I didn't ask how high it was, he said it was "slightly elevated"). He kept asking me about her appetite - but she is eating normally and meowing for food like she always does.

He wants to start her on 90 mg of Denosyl. I know nothing about it, just that it's a supplement that's supposed to aid in liver functioning. He wants to repeat the blood work in 2-3 weeks.

He said not to worry about the wobbling/stumbling episode if it doesn't come back, and said that it could very well be caused by a middle ear infection, which the Clindamycin should take care of.
post #19 of 22
Thanks for the updates! I always ask for a copy of the blood work for my own records, you might want to do that too.

Tolly takes Denosyl for his liver damage. His liver damage is caused by the medication phenobarbital and his numbers were crazy high. He's been on the Denosyl for 11 months now and his last two blood works, all the numbers have been normal.

The liver is a regenerative organ, and the Denosyl can really help.

Here's what you need to know: Denosyl must be given on an empty stomach, and no food for a full hour after. It's best to use a chaser of water after giving the pill to make sure it washes down, it is very important that the Denosyl make it where it needs to be before starting to dissolve.

So if you free feed (I don't remember if you do or not) you will have to start taking the food up at night before you go to bed.

Tolly gets his Denosyl first thing in the morning, and then I get a spoon full of water and tip it down his throat. If I don't do the water right away he comes and reminds me.
post #20 of 22
Thread Starter 
We don't *exactly* free feed.. we feed her several small meals throughout the day. If we leave too much food out, she gorges and throws it up. If we feed her set meals at say 2 or 3 times a day, we generally get the same. So, she eats very small amounts very often. I'd definitely prefer to get her on a schedule, but it just doesn't seem to be feasible (unless perhaps I get an automatic feeder.. HMM).

Taking the food up at night is not a problem at all. You're saying I should have her stay on an empty stomach all night, give it to her in the morning, and then feed her an hour later, right? Syringing water in to her mouth would work too, right?

Should I expect the ALT number to improve after she's on the Denosyl for 2-3 weeks? That's when he wants to repeat the test.

I guess this isn't the worst thing! This was really a coincidental finding, so I guess it's a good thing we caught it when we did. Too cute about Tolly reminding you to give him his water.
post #21 of 22

I appreciate your post it has helped me with some concerns with my cat Boo boo Last night my cat was on the counter and i asked her to get down she did but i didn't see how she landed. Afterwards she seemed to have problems walking or even standing. She was able to do both but she wobbled a lot and was crouched when she walked and she seemed jumpy. She would flinch at shadows. I  started to get worried. She still climbed on the couch and was able to run, but she teeter todded a lot. Even when she was sitting down her head was slightly moving from side to side like her balance was off. Boo is able to walk straight , but her body wouldn't remain still. Today she was laying on the foot stool under a blanket and she seemed fine no movement. She was still but when i called her out to feed her she got down and walked to her bowl but still crouched and skulking. She would not eat her food and i even tried to get her to drink some milk but she sniffed it and did not drink it. This sounds a lot like your issues. If you have any insight on this please tell me. She seems to be doing a lil better than last night. 

post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by draqoonious View Post

I appreciate your post it has helped me with some concerns with my cat Boo boo Last night my cat was on the counter and i asked her to get down she did but i didn't see how she landed. Afterwards she seemed to have problems walking or even standing. She was able to do both but she wobbled a lot and was crouched when she walked and she seemed jumpy. She would flinch at shadows. I  started to get worried. She still climbed on the couch and was able to run, but she teeter todded a lot. Even when she was sitting down her head was slightly moving from side to side like her balance was off. Boo is able to walk straight , but her body wouldn't remain still. Today she was laying on the foot stool under a blanket and she seemed fine no movement. She was still but when i called her out to feed her she got down and walked to her bowl but still crouched and skulking. She would not eat her food and i even tried to get her to drink some milk but she sniffed it and did not drink it. This sounds a lot like your issues. If you have any insight on this please tell me. She seems to be doing a lil better than last night. 

Hi and welcome to TCS!

 

The thread you are replying to is three years old so it would be better to start you own thread. It is very dangerous for cats not to eat and you will need to start syringe feeding her if she refuses to eat. Here is a helpful thread on how to do it (http://www.thecatsite.com/t/227858/syringe-feeding-lucky-video-if-your-cat-is-not-eating). It sounds like your cat is very ill and needs to be seen by a vet right away. From the symptoms I worry she ingested something poisonous but she really needs to see a vet in order to find out what is wrong.

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