Ataxia is the inability to coordinate voluntary muscle movements. It can cause unsteady movements and a staggering gait. Ataxia in cats makes them move in circles and behave abnormally. This behavior is often very frightening for cat owners. Ataxia is usually caused by one of the following reasons:
- A nervous system disorders
- General weakness and anemia
- Deformities of bones, joints or spine
- Inadequate diet
- Muscular atrophy
The different types of ataxia occur due to the impairment of various nerves in the nervous system.
- Vestibular ataxia - a condition where the nerves related to the inner ear are impaired causing issues with maintaining equilibrium.
- Sensor ataxia - an impairment of the nerves related to the limbs, and this kind of ataxia causes unsteady gait
- Cerebellar ataxia – a condition caused by disorders in the cerebellum and is characterized by tremors and a high-stepping gait
The brain function in cats can be affected due to genetic reasons or a high dose of toxins found in vaccinations. To diagnose the condition properly, one needs to study the history of medications given to the mother during pregnancy. One should research whether such a condition is prevalent in the other kittens of the same litter. Trauma and nutritional deficiency also need to be studied. After adequate examination, if it is realized that the cause of ataxia is a genetic disorder, the following tests may be required.
- Clinical examination
- X-Rays and ultrasounds
- Blood and urine tests
- Cerebral spinal fluid tap and analysis
Sometimes ataxia can be caused due to simple infections that have intensified and led to other health problems. Cat ear mites are less probable than dog ear mites but they can still be a cause of ataxia. Inattention to ear mites in cats leads to numerous infections that can lead to ataxia. Although elder cats are known to develop immunization to ear mites, home remedies for dog ear mites can be used for preventing feline infections.
A good diet and nutritional supplements can help in alleviating ataxia symptoms. Cerebellar, sensory, and vestibular ataxias are neurological in nature, and therefore no specific treatment has been discovered so far. At most you can take refuge in symptomatic treatments and reduce the pain for your pet.