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Can Cats Get Dizzy? What You Should Know!

Where dogs are often funny jokers, cats are the elegant masters of the home. It is uncommon for us to see cats, especially adult felines, tripping around the house or running into walls. However, sometimes, you might notice your cat begin to stumble or wobble back and forth.

This article discusses whether cats can get dizzy, what that might mean, and possible causes for a sudden case of the tilts.


Can Cats Get Dizzy?

Cats can get dizzy, although it is not common. They might get dizzy if they run in tight circles for too long. For example, they could get dizzy if they chase a laser pointer around quickly or are spun too fast.

However, cats can also become dizzy due to several different health problems. These can be severe and even end up being fatal or decreasing their quality of life exponentially faster than usual as they age.

If you notice that your cat begins to stumble or walk with stiff legs without any prior reason, such as moving in circles quickly, then it is best to take them to the vet to get an X-ray or ultrasound.

Sick cat in animal hospital
Image Credit: Kachalkina Veronika, Shutterstock

Why Do Cats Get Dizzy and Fall Over?

Cats can get dizzy for similar reasons as a human, like spinning around too fast. However, they do tend to have more balance and refinement than many other animals. If you notice that your cat starts to stumble, look out for the symptoms typical of certain health conditions.

General Disorientation

cat feeling cozy
Image Credit: Pixabay

General disorientation is what happens when a cat isn’t ill but simply suffering from general dizziness. This feeling happens when they spin too fast or a temporary result caused by hitting their head too hard on a poor landing surface. It shouldn’t last more than a minute or so at most and should only happen when there is a reason for it.

Cerebellar hypoplasia

Cerebellar hypoplasia is a brain disease that can affect a cat’s control over their muscles and general movement. Cats will often contract the disease before they are born. They might also get it if they become severely malnourished or are poisoned.

A cat with cerebellar hypoplasia has a brain that failed to develop correctly. An adult cat is highly unlikely to suddenly suffer from this disease because their brain should be fully formed by the time they are one year old.

Luckily, cats with cerebellar hypoplasia do not suffer. It is not a painful condition and it isn’t contagious. They simply adapt to a different way of life than their other, more agile feline counterparts.

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Vestibular Disease

Vestibular disease can come at any time in a cat’s life and generally develops quite quickly. It is commonly referred to as vertigo and isn’t an overly common disease for cats to have.

It is typically relatively easy to notice if your cat is developing vestibular disease. You will see them tripping over themselves frequently and tilting their head oddly as if they were trying to regain their balance. You might also see their eyes moving rapidly from side to side.

It isn’t entirely clear why cats contract vestibular disease. Most researchers assume that the main cause of the disease development in cats comes from a previous ear infection. If your cat seems dizzy frequently and they recently had a particularly intense infection, you might need to get them checked for vertigo.

Luckily, a cat that struggles with vertigo should quickly recover. Take them to the vet, and they can receive antibiotics to make them as comfortable as possible in that time.

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Ataxia is a symptom of many underlying disorders that can affect a cat’s ability to move around. It can manifest as a loss of control in their muscles or severe instability. It could indicate a harmless and temporary change in their health or a life-threatening disease. It often points to neurological conditions, so it is best if you take your cat to the vet right away.

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A Stroke

A cat suffering from a stroke looks similar to those that struggle with vestibular disease. This is why it is so important to take them to the vet right away. Even if you think that it is just vertigo, you could be putting their life at risk if you don’t take them to the vet.

Symptoms of a stroke in cats include a loss of vision, walking in stumbling circles, loss of balance, a tilted head, and a loss of control over their facial muscles. If these symptoms are combined with a cat’s inability to close their eyes, then you should get to the vet right away.

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Ear Infection

Image Credit: Ameena Matcha, Shutterstock

Inner ear infections can cause your cat to feel dizzy and might even make them experience vertigo. If you notice that your cat only seems particularly loopy when standing at heights, then they could have an inner ear infection. Take notice if they are scratching at their ears or seem to be in pain, since ear infections for cats are often quite painful.

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In Summary

Cats can get dizzy for natural reasons. If you notice your cat getting dizzy or stumbling around without any prior reason, then keep a close eye on them for evidence of other symptoms. If you continue to have concerns for their health, take them to the vet.

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Featured Image Credit: Kijpong Puttal, Shutterstock