Please follow and like us:

Treating Vestibular Disease in Cats: Causes, Symptoms & Care

The feline vestibular syndrome is a condition that affects the vestibular system of cats, causing balance and coordination issues. This disorder can be caused by various pathologies such as ear infectionstumors, and IVD. Certain breeds may be more prone to developing feline vestibular disease than others.

If your cat shows clinical signs such as vomiting or difficulty feeding, pet parents must seek veterinary care from a neurologist or vet as soon as possible. This is because feline vestibular syndrome can be a serious condition affecting animals.

So, what exactly is feline vestibular disease? It’s a disorder that affects the vestibular apparatus in cats, which is responsible for maintaining balance and spatial orientation. In some cases, this condition can be temporary and resolved independently. However, severe cases can lead to permanent damage and affect your cat’s quality of life. Therefore, a veterinary neurologist should evaluate the clinical signs of the disease as they may indicate underlying pathologies in animals.

As pet parents, it’s essential to understand the signs and symptoms of feline vestibular syndrome so you can seek prompt medical attention for your furry friend. This condition affects cats of all breeds and ages, and various pathologies can cause it. If you notice any signs of vestibular disease in your animal, it’s crucial to consult a veterinary neurologist. They can diagnose the condition and recommend appropriate treatment options for your cat.

Understanding the Anatomy of Balance in Cats

If you’re an animal owner, you know how graceful and agile felines can be. They can jump from high places without losing their balance and land on their feet easily, thanks to their highly developed sense of balance that relies on the coordination of their eyes, ears, and vestibular apparatus. However, if your cat is experiencing feline vestibular disease, which affects their vestibular apparatus, they may have trouble with balance and coordination. It’s important to consult a veterinary neurologist for proper diagnosis and treatment in such cases.

The Inner Ear is the Area Responsible for Maintaining Balance in Cats and Other Animals

The inner ear, also known as the vestibular apparatus, is crucial in maintaining balance in cats. This area contains tiny structures called otoliths, which detect the head position and movement changes. When a cat moves its head or body, these otoliths also move, sending signals to the brain about the cat’s position in space. Feline vestibular disease is a condition that affects this area and can cause vestibular disease symptoms such as loss of balance, disorientation, and head tilt. Idiopathic vestibular disease is a feline vestibular disease with no known cause.

In addition to otoliths, the inner ear contains three semicircular canals filled with fluid. These canals are arranged at right angles to each other and are responsible for detecting rotational movements of the head. When a cat turns its head, the fluid inside these canals also moves, sending signals to the brain about the direction and speed of movement. Feline vestibular disease, or id, can affect these canals and cause symptoms of vestibular disease.

Vestibular Disease in Cats Can Cause Symptoms Such as Head Tilt and Loss of Coordination Due to Fluid Buildup or Nerve Damage in the Ear

Vestibular disease is a condition that affects a cat’s sense of balance and coordination. There are two types of vestibular disease: peripheral vestibular disease (PVD) and central vestibular disease (CVD). However, it is important to note that there is also a third type of vestibular disease known as inner ear vestibular disease (IVD).

PVD occurs when damage or inflammation to the inner ear or vestibular nerve connects it to the brain. This damage can be caused by infections, tumors, trauma, or even certain medications. Symptoms of PVD include head tilt, loss of balance or coordination on one side of the body, circling or falling to one side, and rapid eye movements.

On the other hand, CVD occurs when there is damage or inflammation to the brainstem or cerebellum, which are responsible for processing information about balance and coordination. Strokes, tumors, or infections often cause this type of vestibular disease. Symptoms of CVD include a wide range of neurological signs such as weakness, tremors, seizures, and changes in behavior.

Causes and Symptoms of Vestibular Disease in Cats

Vestibular disease is a condition that affects the vestibular system, which is responsible for maintaining balance and coordination. In cats, this condition can be caused by various factors that affect the inner ear or brain. Therefore, identifying the cause of vestibular disease in cats is crucial to determine the appropriate treatment.

Treating Vestibular Disease in Cats

Causes of Vestibular Disease in Cats

One common type of vestibular disease in cats is idiopathic vestibular disease, which has no exact cause. This vestibular disease usually occurs suddenly, and its symptoms may resolve within a few days to weeks.

Other causes of vestibular disease in cats include:

  • Ear infections: Infections affecting the middle or inner ear can cause inflammation and damage to the structures responsible for balance.
  • Trauma: Head injuries or trauma to the neck can damage the inner ear or brainstem.
  • Tumors: Benign or malignant tumors affecting the brainstem can disrupt signals from the inner ear.
  • Toxins: Exposure to certain toxins such as insecticides, heavy metals, or medications can affect the vestibular system.
  • Hypothyroidism: Low levels of thyroid hormones can cause neurological symptoms such as loss of balance.

Symptoms of Vestibular Disease in Cats

Symptoms of vestibular disease in cats are often sudden and severe. They may include:

  • Loss of balance
  • Head tilt
  • Nystagmus (involuntary eye movements)
  • Vomiting
  • Circling or falling over
  • Difficulty walking or standing
  • Disorientation

In some cases, these symptoms may be mistaken for a stroke. However, strokes are uncommon in cats and usually occur in older cats with underlying health conditions.

If you notice any signs of vestibular disease in your cat, it’s essential to seek veterinary care immediately. Your veterinarian will perform a physical exam and may recommend diagnostic tests such as blood work, imaging, or ear cytology to identify the underlying cause.

Motion Sickness and Vestibular Disease in Cats

Motion sickness can also cause vestibular disease in cats. In addition, some cats may experience nausea and vomiting during car rides or other types of motion. This condition is known as motion sickness or kinetosis.

Symptoms of motion sickness in cats may include:

  • Drooling
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If your cat experiences motion sickness frequently, it’s essential to consult with your veterinarian. They may recommend medications or behavioral modifications to help reduce symptoms.

Diagnosis of Feline Vestibular Syndrome

If your cat shows signs of vestibular disease, seeking veterinary consultation for an accurate diagnosis is important. Various underlying health issues can cause feline vestibular syndrome, and a thorough examination is necessary to determine the cause.

Clinical Signs and Physical Examination

Clinical signs such as head tilt, loss of balance, and abnormal eye movements are important indicators for diagnosing vestibular disease in cats. During a physical examination, your veterinarian will check for these signs and evaluate your cat’s overall neurological function.

Your veterinarian may conduct tests to help identify the underlying cause of vestibular disease in cats. In addition, urine tests may be conducted to rule out other potential health issues causing similar symptoms. Ear cultures may also be taken to check for bacterial or fungal infections in the ear canal.

Accurate Diagnosis

An accurate diagnosis is crucial in determining the appropriate treatment plan for your cat’s condition. Depending on the underlying cause of feline vestibular syndrome, treatment options may include medication, surgery, or supportive care.

It’s important to note that not all cases of feline vestibular syndrome have a clear underlying cause and may resolve on their own with time and supportive care. However, seeking veterinary consultation is still recommended to ensure proper management of your cat’s symptoms and monitor any changes in their condition.

Safe Treatment Options for Vestibular Disease in Cats

If your cat has been diagnosed with vestibular disease, you may wonder what treatment options are available to help alleviate their symptoms. Fortunately, several safe and effective treatments can help your feline friend feel better.


One of the most common treatments for vestibular disease in cats is medication. Two medications that are effective at alleviating symptoms are meclizine and diazepam.

Meclizine is an antihistamine that helps reduce nausea and vomiting. It also has a mild sedative effect, which can help calm your cat if they are feeling anxious or agitated.

Diazepam, also known as Valium, is a muscle relaxant that can help reduce the severity of head tilts and other balance-related symptoms. It can also help calm your cat if they are experiencing anxiety or stress.

Both meclizine and diazepam should only be given to your cat under the guidance of a veterinarian, as they can have side effects and interact with other medications. Your vet will determine the appropriate dosage based on your cat’s weight and overall health.

Physical Therapy

In addition to medication, physical therapy can also benefit cats with vestibular disease. This may include head tilting, walking on uneven surfaces, and eye-tracking exercises.

Physical therapy can help improve your cat’s balance and coordination over time. However, it’s important to work closely with a veterinarian or veterinary physical therapist when performing these exercises to ensure they are done safely and effectively.


In severe cases of vestibular disease where there is an underlying condition causing the symptoms (such as a tumor or infection), surgery may be necessary to treat the underlying cause.

Surgery should only be considered after other treatment options have been explored and ruled out. Then, your veterinarian will discuss whether surgery is viable for your cat and the potential risks and benefits.

Medication for Nausea and Dizziness in Cats with Vestibular Disease

If your feline friend has been diagnosed with vestibular disease, you may wonder what treatment options can alleviate their symptoms. One of the most common symptoms of vestibular disease is nausea and dizziness, which can be managed with medication prescribed by a veterinarian.

Medications for Nausea

Nausea medication such as Cerenia is commonly prescribed to manage symptoms of vestibular disease in cats. Cerenia contains maropitant citrate, which works by blocking the signals in the brain that trigger vomiting. Depending on your cat’s needs, this medication can be given orally or injected under the skin.

Other medications that may be prescribed to manage nausea include metoclopramide and ondansetron. These medications work by increasing the movement of food through the digestive tract and reducing the activity of certain chemicals in the brain that cause nausea.

Antibiotics for Infection-Related Vestibular Disease

In some cases, vestibular disease in cats may be caused by an underlying infection. If this is the case, antibiotics may be prescribed to treat the infection and alleviate symptoms.

It’s important to note that not all cases of vestibular disease require antibiotics. Your veterinarian will perform diagnostic tests to determine if an infection is present before prescribing any medication.

Other Medications for Vestibular Disease

In addition to nausea medication and antibiotics, other medications may be prescribed to manage other symptoms associated with vestibular disease. For example, if your cat is experiencing pain or discomfort, pain relievers such as gabapentin or tramadol may be prescribed.

It’s important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions carefully when administering any medication to your cat. Some medications can have side effects or interact with other medications your cat may be taking.

Guidelines for Caring for a Cat with Vestibular Disease

If your cat has been diagnosed with vestibular disease, it can be a stressful and worrying time. However, your cat can fully recover with the right care and support. Here are some guidelines to help you care for your cat during this difficult time.

Provide Supportive Care to Your Cat with Vestibular Disease

One of the most important things you can do for your cat is to provide supportive care. This means ensuring they have everything they need to feel comfortable and safe. Some ways you can do this include:

  • Providing a quiet space: Cats with the vestibular disease may be more sensitive to noise and movement, so it’s important to provide them with a quiet space to rest undisturbed.
  • Keeping them hydrated: Ensure your cat has access to fresh water and encourage them to drink regularly.
  • Feeding them small meals: Cats with the vestibular disease may experience nausea or vomiting, so feeding them smaller meals more frequently can help prevent these symptoms.
  • Helping them groom: Your cat may have difficulty grooming themselves due to balance issues, so gently brushing or wiping their fur can help keep them clean.

Ensure Your Cat Receives Proper Care During the Recovery Process

Recovery from vestibular disease can take time, but there are things you can do to support your cat’s healing process. These include:

  • Administering medication as prescribed: Your veterinarian may prescribe anti-nausea or antibiotics to help manage symptoms or prevent infection.
  • Monitoring their condition: Keep an eye on your cat’s symptoms and behavior so you can report any changes or concerns to your veterinarian.
  • Providing physical therapy: In some cases, physical therapy, such as gentle exercises or massages, may be recommended by your veterinarian to help improve balance and coordination.

Help Your Cat Maintain Balance and Stability

Balance and stability can be major challenges for cats with vestibular disease. However, there are things you can do to help your cat feel more secure and stable, such as:

  • Providing non-slip surfaces: Cats may struggle to maintain their footing on slippery floors, so rugs or mats can help them feel more stable.
  • Assisting with movement: If your cat has difficulty walking or standing, you may need to assist them by holding onto their body or using a sling.
  • Creating a safe environment: Make sure your home is free of obstacles that could cause your cat to trip or fall.

Follow Guidelines from Your Veterinarian for Caring for a Cat with Vestibular Disease

Your veterinarian will provide specific guidelines tailored to your cat’s condition and needs. However, following these guidelines closely is important to give your cat the best chance of recovery. Some things your veterinarian may recommend include:

  • Follow-up appointments: Your veterinarian may want to see your cat regularly to monitor their progress and adjust treatment.
  • Diagnostic testing: Depending on the severity of your cat’s condition, diagnostic tests such as bloodwork or imaging studies may be recommended.
  • Referral to a specialist: In some cases, referral to a veterinary neurologist or other specialist may be necessary for further evaluation and treatment.

Can cats recover from vestibular disease?

Vestibular disease in cats can be a scary and disorienting experience for the cat and its owner. However, the good news is that many cats can fully recover from this condition.

As we discussed earlier, understanding the anatomy of balance in cats is crucial in treating vestibular disease. By identifying the causes and symptoms of feline vestibular syndrome, veterinarians can diagnose and provide safe treatment options for affected cats.

Medication for nausea and dizziness can help alleviate some of the discomfort associated with vestibular disease. In addition, following guidelines for caring for a cat with vestibular disease can aid in its recovery process.

While recovery time may vary depending on the severity of the condition, it’s important to remain patient and consistent with your cat’s treatment plan. Providing plenty of love, support, and proper care can go a long way in helping your furry friend recover.

If you suspect your cat may be experiencing symptoms of vestibular disease, don’t hesitate to seek professional veterinary care. Many cats can fully recover from this condition with proper diagnosis and treatment.


Tags: treating vestibular disease in cats, feline vestibular syndrome, vestibular disease in cats, vestibular disease in cats home treatment, idiopathic vestibular disease in cats treatment, vestibular disease in cats symptoms, what causes vestibular disease in cats, feline vestibular disease treatment, vestibular disease vs stroke in cats, can cats get vestibular disease, central vestibular disease in cats, geriatric vestibular disease in cats, vestibular disease cat how long does it last, feline geriatric vestibular syndrome, cat vestibular disease how long does it last, vestibular syndrome young dog, vestibular disease in cats cure, feline vestibular disease vin, feline vestibular disease seizures, feline idiopathic vestibular syndrome treatment

Please follow and like us: