The good news: strokes in cats are pretty rare. The bad news? It can also be a fairly severe issue when it does happen. Cats can have ischemic strokes, which is when blood flow to their brain becomes blocked, either because of blood clots, head trauma, or another underlying issue like parasites. They can also suffer from hemorrhagic strokes, which happen when blood vessels are damaged and bleed out, causing damage to surrounding brain tissues. It’s an event that requires immediate veterinary care.
First off, don’t look for human-like stroke symptoms in cats. Stroke is experienced differently in the animal world. If you think your cat might be having a stroke, be on the lookout for these signs:
If any of these are occurring and you’re concerned your cat could be having a stroke, take them to the emergency veterinarian immediately.
Your vet will do both a physical and neurological exam to determine if your cat has had a stroke.
It’s not often easy to determine the root cause of your cat’s stroke, but that will be the first thing to look for and treat. Until the underlying cause can be identified and treated, the main goal is to keep blood pressure up and provide supplemental oxygen. While commonly used in human patients, the efficacy of blood clot medication has not been established in animals so it might not be an option. Otherwise, your veterinarian may prescribe a range of things, from anti-seizure or blood pressure medication to oxygen or fluid therapy. It’s also quite possible your cat will need to be hospitalized for a short time.
How much it costs to treat your cat for a stroke depends on how severe the stroke was and how exhaustive the investigation into an underlying cause is. If it was very minor and your cat seems to recover quickly, it’ll likely just be the cost of a vet visit. But for more severe cases, costs can add up into the thousands of dollars on testing alone. You may also need to pay for a hospitalization and ongoing medication.
Hours at the vet: As little as 5 hours, as long as 24 hours or more depending on the severity.
It’s not always possible to prevent strokes in cats. But your best bet is to follow a regular animal health routine. So make sure your cat is getting enough exercise and eating properly, try to cut down their stress levels, and bring them to the vet for regular checkups. Senior cat wellness will evaluate blood pressure and check blood work, which can identify potential issues before they happen and lower the chances of a catastrophic stroke.
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