With our sedentary life strokes becoming one of the significant problems, and it is a scary topic; everyone avoids to talk about these days. As a cat owner, you may wonder and ask yourself as well questions such as “what is a stroke in cats?” or “what are the signs of stroke in cats.”
According to the CDC (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), “Stroke kills about 140,000 Americans each year—that’s 1 out of every 20 deaths. Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. Every 4 minutes, someone dies of a stroke. When you look at this as a human, these numbers are scary! Fortunately, strokes in cats are nowhere near that frequent.
However, veterinarians are starting to realize that strokes in cats occur more often than they used to think. The question here is, why is it more than before? It is a controversial topic, and some say because of the lifestyle and its problem. Others suggest that it is probably because there are better diagnostic tests necessary to reach this diagnosis. (What Do You Think? Write your opinion below!)
Therefore, today we will know better about strokes in cats. We will begin with knowing about strokes in general and answer the question “what is stroke in cats,” then we come to explain the symptoms of strokes in cats and its treatment.
What Is Stroke In Cats
Strokes in cats are two types; they can be either ischemic and hemorrhagic. The type depends on what happens; if the blood supply is cut off, we call that ischemic, and if the blood started to leak into the brain, that is called hemorrhagic.
Thus, two circumstances cause most strokes in cats:
1. A Clot In A Blood Vessel In The Brain.
Blood clots can be formed away from the brain and then travel to the blood vessel inside the brain to cut off the blood supply, which is called an embolism. Or it can be formed inside the brain locally, and that is called a thrombosis. In both cases, this type of stroke is called an ischemic stroke.
2. Leaking Of Blood Due To Rupture Of A Blood Vessel In The Brain.
Hemorrhagic stroke type is about oozing from the ruptured blood vessel within the brain, which results in the presence of blood around the brain and then starts pressing on and damaging nearby brain tissue. Trauma from injury is a well-known example that may lead to the rupturing of blood vessels inside the brain, allowing them to bleed out into the cranial area.
So, What Is Stroke In Cats?
To sum it up, according to The Dictionary of Veterinary Terms: Vet-speak Deciphered for the Non-Veterinarian defines stroke as “impairment of blood flow through blood vessels in the brain leading to the destruction of brain tissue.”
The result from both a rupture or obstruction is the same, which is decreasing the amount of blood supply reaching the brain, and this means depleting the brain’s oxygen reaching the brain’s cells, which leads to brain damage.
In cats, this event from strokes often is referred to as an FIE (Feline Ischemic Encephalopathy), which is the same meaning as a stroke. Also, both male and female cats can be affected by strokes equally. This condition is an emergency one, and it is vital to take your cat to the vet immediately if you suspect it.
After understanding and answer the question of what is stroke in cats, it is time to know what causes strokes in cats and all the symptoms of strokes in cats.
What Causes Strokes In Cats?
The median age of cats that got strokes was around nine years, which leads us to the conclusion that not only old cats get strokes.
There are several underlying health problems in cats that increase the risks of getting a stroke. These problems are from different organ problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, and cancer that spread to the brain. Also, some conditions affect the blood and make the clot more easily, such as liver disease, lung disease, diabetes, parasites (migrate to the brain), trauma, and infections.
Signs Of Stroke In Cats
Whatever the reason or type of stroke, the signs of stroke in cats is determined by how much damage the cat’s brain sustained. Also, it depends on the location of the damage in the brain. The possible signs of stroke in cats include:
- Abnormal eye movements
- Unequal pupil sizes
- Altered mental status
- Unsteadiness when walking
- Severe Muscle spasms (May cause the head, neck, and body to arch backward)
- Head pressing due to the headaches
- A head tilt
You also need to know that strokes, most of the time, happens suddenly. Your cat may seem perfectly fine and healthy one minute and then be in a dangerous situation the next. That because all of the changes in the brain develop quickly and show these alarming signs to give you a heads up to solve the problem as soon as possible.
However, in most cases, symptoms of strokes in cats don’t get significantly worse within the first 24 hours unless there is bleeding, and it continues to bleed all this time.
Diagnosis Of Strokes In Cats
Your veterinarian will begin by examining a cat who may have had a stroke by checking first the history and what happened to the cat. Also, there will be different questions about past health issues. This history will give the veterinarian an idea of the possible cause for the stroke.
After taking a fast history, a physical and neurological examination is done next by your vet, followed by different lab tests, which may include blood tests, liver profile, urinalysis, etc. These various tests are necessary to exclude different causes we mentioned before to pinpoint the reason that caused this stroke.
The veterinarian will have a good idea about the possible causes of this stroke after all this. However, the vet would carry advanced testing to confirm the diagnosis and assess the damage that is done to the brain from the stroke.
Therefore, Radiological imaging such as MRI or CT scan for the brain can be a great option to identify any abnormalities in the brain as well as the damage caused bu the stroke. Other tests that may be included by the vet include the D-dimer blood test (helpful to look for the breakdown of abnormal blood clots within the body) or the Analysis of cerebrospinal fluid.
Can A Cat Fully Recover From A Stroke?
Strokes in cats are not a common condition as that in humans. Also, strokes in cats come as a result of another problem, such as heart diseases or cancers. So, the first 24 hours of the cat’s condition is critical, and finding the cause is the ideal way to solve the problem as soon as possible.
Fortunately, full recovery for the cat is achievable with proper treatment and diagnosis, and it is unlikely to have another stroke after that.
Treatment Of Stroke In Cats
The treatment of the cat’s stroke starts after determining the cause; then, the veterinarian will begin helping the cat after stroke with supportive and symptomatic therapy. Also, the vet will treat the underlying condition that may cause this stroke, such as heart and liver diseases.
These supportive and symptomatic therapies include various measures include:
- Management of any underlying conditions.
- Maintaining proper hydration and adequate nutrition.
- Physical therapy to improve any persistent neurologic lacks.
- Oxygen therapy to improve oxygen delivery to damaged brain tissue and promote the healing process.
- Seizure management.
- Help with urination, cleanliness, defecation, and comfort.
Cats tend to go through the worst during the first 24 hours of the stroke after that full recovery is possible, depending on the underlying cause. Also, cats who have had less severe symptoms and otherwise were healthy before this troke are more likely to recover fully.
Is It Worth To Monitor Your Cat’s Health?
After going through all the details about strokes in cats and we understood and answered the question of what is stroke in cats and the signs of stroke in cats, some cat owners would still feel worried about facing this problem!
Monitoring your cat’s health and life and making sure your cat is happy and playful is an admirable thing to do. Your cat is your family. So, don’t overthink about all this too much. By reading this article, it means you are making all those efforts that are needed to protect your cat from such conditions.
Learn how to communicate with your cat and have a close relationship with it! That will give you a huge difference in understanding your cat better.
So finally, I hope you found this article useful and informative. Let me know your answer down below. What do you think about this disease? Do you have more information or tips about What Is stroke In Cats and the signs of stroke in cats? Write them down below.
If you have any other questions or different opinions about it, leave a comment below.
“No amount of time can erase the memory of a good cat, and no amount of masking tape can ever totally remove his fur from your couch.” — Leo Dworken
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