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Discussion Starter #1
Last Wednesday night, I noticed Josie would occasionally slip when climbing over my legs and hips as I was lying down. She was the same Thursday morning, and had a little trouble jumping up and down from the bed. She seemed fine otherwise -- was eating great, using the litter box, playing, cuddling, etc. I assumed it was a pulled muscle or slight sprain on her back right leg since she sometimes favored that leg, although she walked on it ok.

I had to go out of town on Thursday through yesterday (Sunday) to attend my brother's wedding. I had a pet sitter come in once a day to feed and check on her, and she said she seemed fine. But when I got home yesterday, she still had some trouble jumping and running fast and had issues with balance. For instance, when Josie rubbed up against me for petting, and head butted me, she sometimes fell down a bit.

I called the vet this morning as soon as they opened and went in at 8:45. The vet felt her legs and did a pretty thorough exam - heart, lungs, eyes, ears, etc. All fine, although her heart was beating a bit fast, perhaps due to the stress of the vet visit. We tried to get her to walk around the room but Josie wasn't very cooperative in that setting. She took 3 vials of blood for testing. I believe she said CBC, liver, kidney, and thyroid. The results will come back tomorrow.

The vet mentioned that strokes are rare in cats, especially in young cats (Josie is approximately 3). She is indoor-only. With the exception of the jumping and balance issues, she seems normal.

Any ideas what could be the issue here? And if the blood results are normal, are there other tests I should request or questions I should ask?

So worried about my girl.
 

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Poor Josie...no idea what it could be, but a suggestion...take video of her at home when she's having trouble to show the vet. Even just cell phone video will help.
 

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My sister's cat Cheshire started getting what we called "jimmy legs" when his diabetes was getting worse. He acted as you describe, but with the addition of being unable to groom his back legs (lots more litter tracking) and walking with a bit of a weird waddle (back feet splayed a bit). He was ~13 at the time, though, so we thought it was just arthritis until he started peeing the Nile.

The good news is, once he started his twice-daily insulin, after a really bad period (where he was dragging one leg) he fully recovered and can hop on thingsand run again!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The video is a great idea. I'll see if I can get one. I did ask about the ear infection, but the vet said she checked her ears and they looked good... would a vet be able to see an infection or is there a type of test for this? Also, I will ask about diabetes if the blood work doesn't give a diagnosis.

Josie has always been healthy and this has me quite concerned, especially since I don't know what's wrong with her.

Thanks for the replies. Please send good thoughts to Josie!
 

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Prayers for Josie. I hope its something simple. If this vet doesnt find a reason. Take Josie's records and try another vet.

I disagree that strokes are rare in younger cats. That hasnt been my experience. Josies heart sounded clear and not a murmer when your vet checked it?
 

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The video is a great idea. I'll see if I can get one. I did ask about the ear infection, but the vet said she checked her ears and they looked good... would a vet be able to see an infection or is there a type of test for this? Also, I will ask about diabetes if the blood work doesn't give a diagnosis.
Looking in her ears will tell him if there's an infection...they would be red, swollen, maybe see pus, and/or smell. The blood work will tell him whether diabetes is a concern. Did he take a urine sample?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Ok, I just talked to the vet. All blood work came back completely normal. She is faxing me a copy of the results for my records but I don't have it yet. The vet did not do a urinalysis when we were there.

The vet said she recommended 3 different options for me:
1. See a neurologist - closest one is about 45 minutes away
2. Treat for both vestibular disease/inner ear infection as well as a stroke.
3. Treat for vestibular disease and stroke one at a time to narrow it down

Treating for the inner ear infection would involve oral antibiotics 2x a day. Treating for a stroke would be a 1/4 baby aspiring every 3 days, but it would be about 9 days before really seeing any results.

The vet said she is thinking it's a stroke now that the blood work came back normal. But wouldn't a stroke have been a sudden paralysis? I really thought Josie hurt her leg at first, since it wasn't so bad at first, and has gotten a bit worse since the weekend.

The vet also offered to do chest x-rays but I didn't think to ask what that might reveal.

Thoughts? Other options? I am still considering getting a 2nd opinion from another local vet, but I'm not sure how soon one could see us. Would it make sense to do Option #2, treating for both possible issues, or #3 as the vet thinks it's more likely a stroke? I guess I could get a 2nd opinion even when starting one of these treatments.

I did read the document, thanks for sharing hoofmaiden. That does describe sort of what Josie is going through.

Thanks for keeping Josie in your thoughts and prayers.
 

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Not nessacarily; if she's having mini-strokes it could gradually get worse. You might not even know that's happening, even in humans it can be hard to diagnose mini-strokes.

Personally I would try #3, if you give a bunch of meds and try to treat a bunch of different things then you might not find out what's actually wrong AND that many drugs would be hard on her system all at once. IMO you should treat for a stroke first, and if nothing has changed or she developes more sympotoms or gets worse try something else. Another opinion might be a good idea too.
 

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Vestibular isn't necessarily caused by an ear infection, either. Vestibular is often idiopathic (of unknown cause), and when it is, there is no treatment other than to just wait for the cat to recover on her own. Did you notice either of her eyes "shaking" back and forth or up and down? Were one or both pupils dilated, or were they dilated unevenly (one eye more dilated than the other)? Does she have any sort of head tilt?

Laurie
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I haven't noticed changes with her pupils or eyes, but the vet mentioned she might have seen a slight difference between the two while she was taking the blood. Sometimes I do notice a slight head tilt, but not always.
 

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i really don't know anything about cats and strokes--people can have mini-strokes called transient ischemic attacks and sometimes they don't even know they had one. then some people continue to have them, until they worsen in intensity that is noticeable.

so that would be the worst of all possible scenarios i guess. since she checked liver enzymes, this probably isn't it but a b vitamin deficiency causes poor coordination (among other things) so you might want to google it as long as you're checking out things.

just a thought. it's generally reversible too. it's rare but you never know.
 

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Just talked to the vet again. I was going to tell her we'll start off trying the aspirin to see if that helps, but she said she thought about it again and now recommends trying steroids to reduce inflammation instead.

I asked about side effects and she mentioned Josie could have increased eating, drinking, and peeing, but that cats generally tolerate steroids well for short term use.

Thoughts?

Thanks, all, for your help with this. So confusing.
 

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I'm not a big fan of corticosteroids but in some cases they are life-saving. Try not to give them for too long and keep in mind that the cat's immune system will be compromised for up to 5 years after a 2 week course of corticosteroids, so you will need to be extra careful if she has surgery, a dental, etc. Also, steroids can cause "steroid psychosis." Happened to one of my cats--she went almost insane and ended up freaking out and running out the door (had never done that in her life). Took us hours to find her and days for her to return to normal. That's not a common side effect but it CAN happen.

I would probably do the steroids and abios. Strokes are extremely uncommon in cats and are usually nothing like human strokes anyway. I think that's highly unlikely.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Just wanted to update this thread. I took Josie for a 2nd opinion this morning. This vet I went to is the lead vet of a large, established practice and it's the same place I've taken my dogs for years. When I adopted Josie, I just took her to the smaller local vet that was recommended by my neighbors because it was closer to home, but I haven't been very impressed with them in the 4 times I've taken her there.

Anyway, today the vet did a thorough exam, and concentrated more on Josie's ears than the other vet did. He said her right ear drum looked more cloudy than the left, which led him to believe it may be an ear issue. She does tilt her head sometimes to the right and scratches and shakes her head more than she had been doing. He said a stroke could be a possibility, along with about 10-15 other possible issues. More likely, he said it is probably an inner ear infection.

He gave me amoxicillin and prednisolone. He thinks these should help clear it up and I should see some improvement by Monday. If I don't, I'm to call and we'll try something else.

I feel better that I got a 2nd opinion, although I won't feel completely better until Josie is back to normal.
 
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