Stupor and Coma in Cats
Marginal Consciousness and Complete Unconsciousness in Cats
The term stupor is used if an animal is unconscious but can be aroused with very strong external stimulus, whereas a patient that is in a coma will remain unconscious even if the same level of external stimulus is applied. Cats of any age, breed, or gender are susceptible to this condition.
Symptoms and Types
The symptoms are highly variable depending on the primary disease that has led to the loss of consciousness, whether it is temporary, as with stupor, or long lasting, as with coma.
The major symptom is varying levels of unconsciousness, with the degree of consciousness depending on the nature and severity of the underlying disease.
Both of these conditions are health emergencies and will require that you take your cat to a veterinarian immediately for treatment. You will need to give a thorough history of your cat’s health including a background history of symptoms. After taking a detailed history, your veterinarian will conduct a complete physical examination on your cat. Laboratory tests will include a complete blood count (CBC), biochemistry profile, and urinalysis. There are a number of diseases/conditions that can lead to these symptoms and laboratory tests will show any abnormalities that could be related to an underlying disease.
For example, in case of lead toxicity, abnormal red blood cells will usually appear in the complete blood count tests. In cases with infection and inflammation, an increased number of white blood cells, cells that multiply in response to infection and trauma, will be seen.
The biochemistry profile may indicate lower or higher than normal values of glucose in the blood, higher than normal levels of sodium in blood, and accumulation in the blood of nitrogenous waste products (urea), which are usually excreted out of the body through the urine.
The urinalysis may indicate high levels of glucose in the urine, a common sign in diabetes mellitus; abnormally high levels of proteins that are normally not present in the urine, such as with immune-mediated diseases; and abnormal crystals in the urine, such as what is seen in the presence of liver disease or ethylene glycol toxicity.
If the cause is not so readily apparent, more specific testing may be required to diagnose the underlying disease. Infections are one of the most important risk factors for developing stupor or coma, especially in case s of untreated infections. Your veterinarian will test for various infections that are common in cats and that are known to cause serious symptoms like stupor or coma.
Bleeding inside the brain is also a possible cause of stupor or coma, and your veterinarian can order tests to measure the normal blood clotting mechanisms in your cat's system. Besides laboratory analyses and tests, visual diagnostics can also be used to great advantage. X-rays of the abdomen and chest can be used to confirm if there is a diseased condition present in these areas, or whether there have been resultant changes in the organs. Similarly, head X-rays can be used to evaluate whether an unknown injury has occurred, whether there is fracture, inflammation or any other injury that might be affecting the brain's ability to function normally.
Your doctor will need to determine which machine will give the clearest image of the head. In some cases, X-ray may not be enough, and a computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) will be needed to diagnose the presence of hemorrhage, fracture, mass, accumulation of fluid, or a penetrating foreign body in the skull and/or brain. An electrocardiogram (ECG) may also be used to evaluate cardiac functions as cardiac diseases and abnormalities can also lead to stupor or coma.
The prediction of a disease’s outcome in advance
Relating to a disease of unknown origin, which may or may not have arisen spontaneously
Anything that produces an action or reaction
The product of protein being metabolized; can be found in blood or urine.
An in-depth examination of the properties of urine; used to determine the presence or absence of illness
Low amounts of glucose in the blood
High levels of sodium in the blood
The collection of fluid in the tissue
A record of the activity of the myocardium
Extreme loss of blood
Elevated levels of glucose in the blood
The amount of pressure applied by the blood on the arteries.
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