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Q. 5 Yr old female cat change in behavior last 2 mos: hides, sleeps all the time, meows when touched, decrease appetite; last 1-2 wks wobbley.

Answered By
DR. CHRISTIE LONG, D.V.M., C.V.A.

A. While I think neurologic disease is certainly a concern based on what you're describing, and should be ruled out with a good neuro exam (full examination of spinal reflexes and cranial nerves), a cat that sleeps all the time and is wobbly could have many things going on. What you're describing sounds like generalized weakness to me, and that could be caused by heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, anemia (lots of causes to this) or metabolic/hormonal conditions like diabetes. Often cats "look" neurologic when in fact they're just really weak.

However, as far as specific neurologic conditions that might cause what you're seeing, chronic ear infections or a polyp in the inner or middle ear can affect the vestibular nerve and affect balance, some drugs if used long term (metronidazole) can cause it as well. Other things include intervertebral disk disease (slipped disk), cancer in the spinal cord, thiamine deficiency (not a problem if your cat eats a commercially-prepared diet) and feline infectious peritonitis.

Unfortunately the only way to start figuring out what's going on is likely with lab work (complete blood count, chemistry panel, and urinalysis) and x-rays for starters (likely of the spine). And as I said above a good neuro exam is critical to starting to figure out whether it's a neuro problem or not. Your vet will possibly recommend other tests based on the initial results. If you'd like to consult further about exactly what's going on with your cat select the "consult" button.

Answered By
LINDSEY EDWARDS MVB, BSC, IVCA

A. Wobbling, vocalizing when touched and reduced appetite is not normal and should be investigated, she may need x-rays to investigate sources of pain such as a pelvic injury which may be affecting her gait and causing her to wobble


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