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CVA (cerebrovascular accident) in cats

Although rare in cats, stroke is a possible serious pathology. Our friends the tomcats do not show the same symptoms as dogs or humans in the event of a stroke, but it is necessary to act very quickly at the slightest suspicious sign, because the animal’s survival is at stake and the sequelae can be very serious. In this dossier, discover the risk factors for stroke, the clinical signs, the possible treatments, the treatments to be implemented and the follow-up of the tomcat after remission.

What are the risk factors for stroke in cats?

If the cat is less prone to strokes than humans or dogs, it may be affected. It is difficult to identify the profiles of cats at risk, but it seems that certain factors are considered to favor this type of extremely serious pathology:

  • high blood pressure,
  • blood clotting disorders,
  • feline infectious peritonitis (FIP),
  • a complication following anesthesia,
  • a hepatic problem,
  • vitamin B1 deficiency,
  • the migration of a parasite in the body,
  • heartworm disease (heartworm disease),
  • granulomatous meningoencephalitis (brain infection),
  • a vascular malformation.

How to identify a stroke in cats?

As in humans, stroke is a very serious problem that requires immediate reaction and emergency treatment. In cats, any abnormal behavior observed in the eyes of the animal, its diet and its gait should alert you. In this case, it is imperative to go immediately to the nearest veterinarian, because the urgency is absolute and the vital prognosis of the tomcat is engaged.

When the cat has a stroke, it may show the following clinical signs, depending on the area of ​​the brain that is affected:

  • difficulties in finding one’s bearings, in orienting oneself;
  • the animal does not respond when called or spoken to;
  • his head tilts to the side;
  • he may be paralyzed;
  • he has difficulty swallowing;
  • he suffers from tremors, convulsions;
  • he does not walk straight, he staggers, loses his balance, even stumbles;
  • the cat struggles to control its limbs which move in all directions;
  • its tongue is blue, white or purplish in color;
  • his pupils are very dilated;
  • his eyes move rapidly from side to side, uncontrollably;
  • the animal no longer blinks reflexively when approaching an object in front of it;
  • the animal may suffer from blindness due to excessive blood pressure in the brain;
  • he may lose his hearing;
  • he may lose his sense of smell.

The cat does not present facial paralysis or sagging of the face unlike the man, nor the same symptoms as the dog, because the vascularization of their brain is different from his.

What to do in case of suspected stroke?

Stroke is an absolute emergency. If you notice one or more of the symptoms mentioned above or if you suspect a stroke, it is important that your animal is taken care of as quickly as possible.

Reassure your animal and try to isolate it in a quiet place. Stay close to him and pet him, talk to him in a soft voice. Try, as much as possible, to remain calm, so as not to transmit your stress and worry to him.

Note all the elements that seem abnormal to facilitate the diagnosis of the veterinarian and go as soon as possible to your practitioner or to the practice closest to your home.

Once there, explain to the specialist all the symptoms you have observed, their duration and their intensity, but also all the signs and changes that you have observed in your little companion and which can help the veterinarian to establish his diagnosis. . Indeed, stroke presents clinical signs identical to those observed in cases of infarction or pulmonary embolism, which are serious illnesses, but which require other treatment. Consequently, the more precise you are in your observations, the more the veterinarian will be able to identify the pathology in question and put in place a rapid treatment.

The veterinarian must also identify the form of stroke involved:

  • a cerebral hemorrhage, which is due to a large amount of blood released in the brain after the rupture of vessels. Accumulated blood increases pressure in parts of the brain and compresses tissues and neurons. As soon as it is massive, the survival of the animal is rare;
  • impaired blood circulation due to the presence of a clot, which blocks access to the brain of oxygen, glucose and nutrients it needs.

First of all, the practitioner must identify the form of stroke from which the cat is suffering in order to set up his care protocol. He must also immediately reduce the cerebral edema of the tomcat and oxygenate it in order to slow down the stroke and limit the complications.

What is the treatment for stroke in cats?

In the event of a stroke, the veterinarian can set up two forms of treatment:

  • a symptomatic treatment which consists of placing the animal under oxygen in order to limit the deterioration of the cells of the brain, to reduce the cerebral edema and to inject it with a drug intended to facilitate blood circulation;
  • a preventive treatment which requires the identification of risk factors in cats. To do this, the practitioner performs several examinations (blood analysis, MRI, blood pressure measurement, chest X-ray, ultrasound, etc.). He must then set up an appropriate treatment to avoid recurrences.

The sooner the animal is taken care of, the less risk it has of sequelae and the more its chances of survival increase.

How to live with a cat after a stroke?

After a stroke, the cat remains exposed to the risk of recurrence and it can retain more or less significant and disabling sequelae (neurological disorders, kidney and/or heart problems, liver diseases, etc.). It is important to give him constant care and attention.

Reassure him constantly as soon as he is stressed, worried, struggling to perform certain common gestures or actions. Take good care of him and stay attentive to his needs, his difficulties in order to make his daily life easier by readjusting what needs to be.

It is important that the animal evolves in a calm, serene environment, which he knows well, which is easily accessible and usable, in which he feels confident.

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