January 2016 Issue

When Cats Lose Their Sense of Balance

Disorientation, darting eyes and tilting the head can result when vestibular syndrome develops.

Seeing your once-graceful cat suddenly stumbling with his head tilted and eyes darting wildly can be frightening. These signs are associated with vestibular syndrome, a fairly common problem with a variety of causes and occasionally only temporary signs. Darting eye movements can be present at birth in blue-eyed color point breeds those having a darker color on their tail, legs, ears and face, such as Siamese and Himalayan, but they are not related to vestibular syndrome. In the case of the syndrome, the eye movements are more likely due to an underlying condition such as infection, polyps, stroke, cancer, inflammation or drug toxicity, especially to certain antibiotics.

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