When a cat is walking in circles and acting disoriented, it can have several different causes. The reasons can range from physical trauma and tumours to a variety of health disorders. Most of the time, this type of behaviour can be life threatening and calls for immediate action.
Meningioma -- Brain Tumor
Meningioma refers to a growth on the outside tissue lining the brain that grows from the outside in and puts pressure on the brain. This type of tumour is not cancerous, but it can severely affect a cat's nervous system and body functions related to it. Growing skull pressure can lead to inflamed brain tissue and swelling, which leaves permanent damage to the nerves. Lethargy and change in behaviour are the most common symptoms in cats. The cat may walk in circles, drag her toes, act as if she was drunk and even turn blind. The medication prednisone relieves brain swelling. Phenobarbital and potassium bromide help with seizures. If diagnosed early, the tumour can be removed fairly easily. If left alone, the condition is fatal.
Infectious Peritonitis -- Infection of the Brain
The feline coronavirus is responsible for a condition called feline infectious peritonitis, or FIP. While it is present in most cats, the virus can transform into a fatal strain, which results in this illness. It is spread through faeces and oral ingestion. In the beginning, the symptoms are rather inconclusive. They include lethargic behaviour, indifference to food, inflammation of eyes, nervous problems, wavering walk and shivering. There is a so-called "wet" occurrence of FIP with an accumulation of yellowish liquid in the lower stomach and lungs. The dry kind is less apparent. The infection usually gets continuously worse and results in death. There is no cure as of the time of publication.
Hypoglycaemia and Feline Diabetes
Hypoglycaemia is the medical term for low-blood sugar levels. It often arises with cats that have feline diabetes. Low-blood sugar can occur if the cat has been injected with too much insulin or if the cat received the incorrect amount. Your cat also could have consumed too little food or thrown it up. Excessive exercise also may have caused the blood sugar level to drop. Hypoglycaemia can show itself in its mild form with an unexpected high appetite, shaking, weakness or apathy. You should be more concerned if the cat gets disoriented, acts intoxicated, walks in circles, shows vision problems or runs into objects. She may move her head around, miaow a lot more than usual, behave uneasily or get aggressive. In the worst case, the cat may twitch, go into a seizure and become unconscious.
Otitis Interna -- Inner Ear Infection
When a cat starts walking in circles, she could have an infection of the inner ear. It can affect your feline friend's balance and make her tilt her head to the side, stumble around as if she was drunk or topple over. Otitis can occur with signs of loss of hearing, pain, rapid side-to-side movements of the eyes and discharge from the ear. Some of the many reasons for this ailment can be microorganisms, bugs, trauma to the head and growths. An inner ear infection usually develops from a middle ear infection.
Drug Side Effects or Contraindications
Some antibiotic drugs can be the cause of your cat walking in circles or acting disoriented. Gentamicin and metronidazole, which are antibiotic medications, can cause harm to the inner ear and affect balance. Antibacterial ear-cleaning products containing substances, such as iodine and chlorhexidine, have a similar effect and could result in deafness if ear drum damage is already present.
- Type2DiabetesGuide.com: Hypoglycemia in Cats with Feline Diabetes
- Ivillage: Walking in Circles
- Feline Diabetes: Hypoglycemia Quick Reference
- Marvista Vet: The Meningioma: The Most Comon Brain Tunor of the Dog and Cat
- Feline Advisory Bureau: Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)
- PetPlace.com: Otitis Interna and Media in Cats
- BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images