What are the signs of stroke in cats? As pet parents we do everything we can to keep our fur babies healthy, but what are the chances of your cat suffering a stroke? It’s only in recent years due to modern technology it’s been shown that cats and dogs have strokes.
You may be familiar with strokes if a family member or even yourself have had one. As a stroke survivor myself, I’m all to aware of the speed at which it strikes, and any resulting damage. In this post you’ll learn all about cat stroke, including signs, causes, treatments, and recovery.
What is a stroke?
There are basically 2 different types of stroke, ischemic or hemorrhagic. Ischemic is the result of a blockage in the blood supply to the brain, whereas a hemorragic stroke is caused by a bleed in the brain. Both are traumatic events, and can be very debilitating.
However, strokes in people are a lot different to those in cats. If your kitty suffers a stroke you shouldn’t feel scared. It can be frightening to see your cat in pain, but In many cases you can expect a full recovery. In contrast a of of people who suffer strokes are left with life changing disabilities.
How do you know your cat has had a stroke?
You’ve probably seen the ads on tv, telling you to look for facial droop, inability to lift arms, slurred speech, and general weakness. Symptoms in cats are entirely different. If your kitty is showing the following signs she could be having a stroke. Head tilting, circling, changes in facial movements, staggering, seizure, or passing out. Just as in people, a stroke is a medical emergency, and you need to get your cat to a veterinary surgery as quickly as possible.
Diagnosis for stroke in cats
Your vet will carry out an mri or ct scan for brain imaging. He or she will also take blood and urine samples. Blood tests can show if the heart is enlarged by including thyroid checks. Though these tests can be expensive, mri scans show clear images of any signs of stroke. They can also help in creating a treatment plan for your pet.
If your cat has had a severe stroke you may be given the option of oxygen therapy. This helps promote healing, and improves oxygen supply to blocked arteries. It can help with faster recovery but there’s no definite proof. Your vet will also prescribe medication, and your kitty may be kept in intensive care during the first few days. This depends on the severity of stroke as caring for her at home may be a much better option.
The type of medication your vet will prescribe depends on the type of stroke. Your kitty may need blood thinning medication to break up clots, or prevent further clotting. Physiotherapy may also be recommended for improving weakened limbs.
What are the chances of recovery?
Strokes in cats are rare compared to those in dogs and humans, but can be alarming for the owner. Most feline strokes aren’t benign though, with underlying causes. Cats fare far worse than people and can experience extreme pain and distress. The first 24 hours are critical and sadly, too many cats are euthenased to prevent further suffering.
Your kitty may never have another stroke and make a full recovery but, as most have an underlying cause, your vet will need to make further tests. This is well worth the cost as you could be saving your cat’s life.
Just as in people, there’s no way of knowing how your cat will recover following a stroke. A lot more research needs to be done, as it’s still early days in acknowledging this condition in cats. As you can see in the video below, this cat has made an amazing recovery just 12 days following a stroke! So, never give up, whether you’re a human or cat!!
What causes a stroke in cats?
There can be a variety of reasons why your cat had a stroke including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and kidney disease. All of these diseases can be treated and should never be ignored.
Cardiomyopathy is the most common form of heart disease in cats, and affects the muscle. If it’s picked up during routine tests it can be managed to avoid risk of complications such as a stroke. An annual physical examination can pick up a heart murmur, a symptom of cardiomyopathy.
Diabetes and high blood pressure are frequent causes of strokes in people, and can also be a leading cause in cats as well. Many veterinarians routinely check blood pressure in older cats. This has been common practice in human medicine for decades, with people aged over 40 given yearly blood pressure tests. Kidney disease is one of many common health problems in older cats, over half of which have high blood pressure.
The worst type of stroke your cat could suffer
This isn’t to alarm you as strokes are fairly rare, but the worst type your kitty could suffer is a saddle thrombus. This is when a blood clot forms in the heart, dislodges, then gets stuck in one one of the arteries supplying the legs. The resulting stroke can be excruciatingly painful for a cat.
Depending on the clot and if any further ones have formed, your vet may suggest surgery. In elderly cats this can be very risky, but if successful can save the cat’s life. Euthenasia should always be a last resort as cats do make very good recovery from strokes.
Can you prevent your cat from having a stroke?
Stroke prevention in cats is the same as in people. If you want to keep your cat healthy and prevent her from having a stroke you need to make sure she has a healthy diet and gets enough exercise, as well as regular check ups.
Feeding your cat quality food that’s high in protein and lower in carbohydrates will help keep her in good condition. Keep high fat treats to a minimum, and if you’re feeling ambitious, try your hand at making your own cat food. This isn’t as hard as it sounds, and it’s becoming a growing trend.
If your cat is elderly and has mobility problems, you’ll need to encourage gentle exercise through play. It’s important to keep her active otherwise not only will she be at risk of joint problems, you’ll also increase the chances of a stroke.
Regular check ups are important for all cats, especially middle age and older. It’s much easier and cheaper to treat diseases in their early stages than wait until they become advanced. Plus, you don’t want your precious kitty to suffer pain or discomfort in silence. Remember, your cat can’t tell you if she’s feeling poorly.
A person can tell you she or he feels dizzy, has lost feeling on one side of their body, or can’t see properly. Your cat will go off and hide somewhere instead, which is a natural response. Though extremely unlikely, you don’t want to find your cat staggering around, unable to stand, or having a seizure.
Is your cat at risk of a stroke?
Now you know the signs of stroke in cats, is your kitty at risk? Hopefully, you’ve learnt a little bit about stroke, and it’s helped understand the importance of monitoring your cat’s health. Just as we need to take more care of ourselves as we age, the same applies to our pets. We’ve looked at prevention and some common causes of stroke to help better understand your cat’s needs
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article and found it useful. Please share if you have, and don’t forget to leave a comment below if you have any questions. Also, I’d love you to share any experiences you may have had on the topic of stroke in cats.
Wishing you a purrfect day:)