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Ataxia in cats – Symptoms and treatment

Anyone who has a cat as a companion in life, should try to offer maximum welfare. It is therefore good to stay well informed about their basic needs and the most common diseases they may suffer.

We always seek to offer you all the possible information about the animals that live with us.

In this new article we are going to talk about a health problem of domestic cats, more common than we may think in principle. Keep reading if you want to discover what is the Ataxia in cats, their symptoms and treatments Possible.

What is ataxia?

Maybe you’ve ever seen a kitten with a peculiar gait, with an uncoordinated gait and wobbling. That happens because he suffers from something known as ataxia. This can be defined as the lack of coordination and precision in movements of an animal. It affects the sense of movement and balance, the position of the body, especially the extremities and the head, and the stability that the animal that suffers it can feel. If the steps that the cat takes are rather short, that is to say if it advances with a shorter march so it seems that more than walking is jumping, we will say that it suffers hypometry. On the other hand, if the steps are longer and it seems that rather it is dragged to advance, we will be facing a case of hypermetry.

This condition occurs when it occurs a problem or a injury in any of the areas that control the movements and for this reason, ataxia is considered to be rather a symptom and not a disease in itself. These main areas responsible for the movements of the body of an animal are:

  1. La proprioception or sensory system, is found in the peripheral nerves and in the spinal cord. Help the animal to detect the position or movement of its muscles, tendons and joints. So a problem or injury in this system causes the loss of control of the position and movement.
  2. El vestibular system It serves to maintain the correct position of the extremities, the trunk and the eyes of the animal when it moves the head, so it confers the sensation of balance. Normally the problems occur in the middle-inner ear, in the vestibular nerve and in the brainstem. The lesions are usually unilateral so, generally, we will watch the cat turn its head towards the affected side.
  3. El cerebellum It has several functions that affect the coordination and precision of movements. First, it receives information from the sensory system, the vestibular system, and the visual and auditory systems. Then, the cerebellum processes the information received about the position and movements, compares the information with the movement that is wanted and gives the order, coordinating the muscles necessary to carry it out.

It may be that the kitten has had an accident or complication of some kind and due to an injury occurs the ataxia, but it is also possible that he was born with the problem or may appear a few weeks or months of life. The best we can do for our little one is to contact our trusted veterinarian so that the sooner the problem is diagnosed, since there are other diseases that produce a similar picture. Once the problem and its cause have been detected, the specialist will indicate how to proceed so that the feline can recover if possible, or to recover the maximum normality, according to the seriousness of the problem.

Causes and types of ataxia

Ataxia has various causes, the most important ones are indicated below:

  • A lesion in one of the three aforementioned systems (vestibular, sensory and cerebellum)
  • Nervous system conditions
  • A high weakness caused by other problems such as starvation, anemia, etc.
  • Muscle problems
  • Problems in systems that affect brain function and peripheral nerves
  • Orthopedic conditions that affect bones and joints

Some of these problems and injuries can come from accidents, poisonings, serious problems in the diet, tumors and serious infections, among many other possibilities.

Also, ataxia can be divided into three types different, depending on the area that affects:

  1. Cerebellar ataxia: It is the one that affects the cerebellum, weakening its control over balance and coordination of movements. The felines that suffer from this type of ataxia can stand, but they walk in an uncoordinated and exaggerated way, with their legs separated, bouncing and trembling, they have the precision very affected by what they have a hard time jumping and when they do it turns out to be a jump exaggerated and clumsy.
  2. Vestibular ataxia: Caused by some problem in the middle-inner ear or in some nerves that connect the ear with the brain. Normally the problem is unilateral, towards the side that the cat inclines the head. They tend to wobble and fall to the affected side. On the other hand, when it occurs bilaterally, an oscillation is observed from side to side, as they lose balance. They present all the symptoms of vestibular disease.
  3. Sensory ataxia: Also known as generalized proprioceptive ataxia. It is the one that occurs when there are problems in the brain, in the spinal cord or in the peripheral nerves. Therefore, the information does not reach the central nervous system well and as responsible for the movement and position of the body, due to lack of information, it can not act correctly. The felines that suffer from it can stand and walk with their extremities widely separated because, generally, there is a delay in the extension of the extremities when wanting to walk and therefore a longer step than normal occurs. There are cats that even walk with the dorsal part of their legs, dragging their fingers. In addition, they have muscle weakness due to the fact that there are problems in the nerves of the muscular system.

Symptoms of ataxia in cats

In ataxia the symptomatology is very varied. Depending on the type and, therefore also according to the cause of the ataxia, some of the symptoms will vary, but the most important are the following:

  • Incoordination
  • Disorientation
  • Weakness
  • Tremors
  • Stagger, lose balance and fall easily
  • Strange steps (smaller or larger than normal)
  • He sits more than usual for fear of moving
  • Difficulty to eat and drink, to urinate and defecate
  • Drag the legs, supporting the fingers to walk
  • Moves stuck to the ground
  • It moves by jumping
  • His jumps are exaggerated and uncoordinated
  • Twist your head to one side
  • Uncontrolled movement of the eyes
  • Go in circles to the same side
  • Little precision in movements
  • Loss of appetite and vomiting
  • Stress and constant meows

It is vitally important that in the presence of any of these symptoms, especially if several occur at the same time, that Let’s go directly to our trusted veterinarian. This way we will begin to carry out tests until we find the reason for the symptoms to be able to arrive at a diagnosis and start the treatment as soon as possible.

Diagnosis for ataxia in cats and possible treatments

Once we go to the veterinarian, he will have to perform various tests. You must make a physical exploration where you can perceive how the kitten moves and what reactions it has to different stimuli, this will help you to think if it can be a type of ataxia or another.

In addition, blood tests, urinalysis, x-rays, some neurological tests, an ophthalmological examination and all kinds of tests that the specialist may require to be sure of being able to rule out other diseases and to correctly diagnose what kind of ataxia is the one suffered by our faithful feline companion.

It is true that many of the causes of ataxia in cats have no remedy, so our cat will have to learn to live with this condition. Luckily, most times ataxia occurs at very early ages so the kitten can learn to live with it perfectly in most cases.

But, it is also true that some of the causes do have a solution. For example, some of the causes of vestibular ataxia are treatable. You have to know how to deal with the main damage in the vestibular system and study if it really is a correctable problem or not. If the problem is due to a tumor, it is necessary to study if it is operable or not and if there is an infection or a poisoning, it will be necessary to see if it is reversible and what damage can be left to the cat. It is for this reason that it is of vital importance for the future of our kitty puppy, that for the minimum symptom or anything out of the normal in its behavior, we approach a veterinarian to review it, since taking the health problems to time, there is less chance that they will get complicated.

This article is merely informative, in .com we do not have the faculty to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any kind of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian in case of any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Ataxia in cats – Symptoms and treatment, we recommend that you enter in our section of Other health problems.

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