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Brain Injury in Cats



Any type of brain injury should be considered an emergency that requires immediate hospitalization for intensive care and treatment. In fact, depending on the cause of the brain injury, surgery may be required. However, often the primary goal of emergency treatment is to normalize the cat's temperature and blood pressure, provide adequate levels of oxygen and prevent hypoxia.


In order to assist with breathing, a tube will be passed into the trachea to supply oxygen. Small amounts of fluids may also be given to animals with fluid deficits in order to maintain blood pressure. To reduce brain swelling, the cat will be given medication and its head will be kept above the level of the body. In addition, the cat is turned over every two hours to avoid complications.


Pain killers are often provided to reduce pain associated with the injury. Those with severe hemorrhaging (either in the eye or in the brain) will also be given medication. In cases with low blood glucose levels, intravenous glucose supplementation is initiated, whereas in cats with high blood glucose levels, insulin may be required to reduce blood glucose levels.


Living and Management


For cats with minimal primary or secondary brain injuries, the overall prognosis is good. In fact, if no deterioration is observed within 48 hours following the head injury, the cat has a good chance of full recovery, which may take more than six months, depending on the cause and treatment of the condition.


During the recovery process, your cat should be placed in a stress-free environment, away from other pets and active children. Tube feeding may be necessary for the first few weeks for nutritional support. In addition, its activities should be restricted until the veterinarian advises otherwise.


It is important you watch your cat for any untoward symptoms such as unusual behaviors, bleeding, vomiting, and inform the veterinarian if any should occur immediately. Otherwise, the cat is brought in for regular follow-up exams to evaluate the neurologic functions of the patient. Frequent laboratory testing may also be required to determine the cat's overall health.


Unfortunately, cats suffering from severe primary head injuries and/or secondary brain traumas, the overall prognosis is not favorable.

Image: Telekhovskyi via Shutterstock


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