Cats are notorious for avoiding danger and coming out of dangerous situations seemingly unscathed, but they’re also well known for their ability to get into danger in the first place. While they might seem invincible, cats are actually quite prone to head injuries and concussions after falling from a height, being hit with a hard object, or even after a fight with another cat or other animal.
As with concussions in humans, they can range from mild and virtually unnoticeable to severe, life-threatening traumas. If you see any of the symptoms of a cat concussion, which we highlight below, you should consult a vet straight away to increase the chances of your cat making a full recovery.
What Is Concussion?
A concussion is a traumatic injury to the brain. It is usually caused by a physical accident that leads to the head and brain bumping back and forth quickly. A concussion can lead to a twisting of the brain and may even result in damage to the brain cells. Although they are not usually life-threatening, concussions can be very serious and they do lead to a loss of life in some circumstances. The sooner your cat gets treatment for this type of injury, the better.
Common Causes Of Concussion In Cats
Cats are curious, inquisitive creatures. They enjoy climbing and can get into altercations with other cats, dogs, and even wild animals. They are also prone to road accidents as they dart in front of cars to get away from danger or to chase prey. Unfortunately, concussions can also be caused by accidental and intentional stamping or kicking. Effectively, any accident or incident that causes the head to suffer physical trauma can lead to a concussion.
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Symptoms Of Concussion
If you see your cat suffer a head trauma, it is best to have them checked over straight away. Concussions are not always immediately evident and it is only through a full examination that they are identified. But, you don’t always witness your cat’s accidents and you may only notice their symptoms after the event.
Obvious signs of a traumatic brain injury include loss of consciousness, seizures, and trouble walking. Uncontrollable and rapid eye movements are another sure sign of trauma, and unexplained vomiting indicates that something may be wrong. If you see any signs of physical trauma combined with one of these symptoms, you should take your cat to the vet to be examined.
What to Do If You Think Your Cat Has a Concussion
The first step, if you suspect a feline concussion, is to contact your vet. They will be able to conduct a thorough examination to look for physical evidence. In the meantime, you can cover your cat’s head and apply an ice pack over the towel. This will help reduce the swelling, magnitude and pain of the traumatic inflammation. You should also prevent any further jolting of the head, which can be difficult especially when transporting them to the vet. Experts suggest using a closed cat carrier because they are stable and can help prevent exacerbating any existing injuries, including concussions.
Do not give your cat any pain medication at home. These can make the examination more difficult for your vet. If your cat does require pain medication, the vet will administer it.
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Concussions can vary in severity. Mild concussion will usually only require pain medication and monitoring of the situation.
More severe cases may need an MRI or a CT scan. These allow the vet to determine the full extent of the damage and to act accordingly. Anti-inflammatories may be administered and your cat put on IV fluids. Severe cases usually require that the cat remains at the vets for careful monitoring and to help ensure a better chance of recovery. Laser treatment is a possibility in severe cases. This is used to remove inflammation and repair damaged cells.
Can Cats Get Concussions?
Cats are agile animals but they can get themselves into a lot of tight situations. Following any physical accident or altercation, they can suffer damage to the head, which can lead to concussions.
Mild concussions may only require pain medication while more severe cases mean that the cat will have to remain at the vets, have scans to check the extent of the damage, and may need laser or other treatment to help ensure a positive outcome. The key to successful concussion treatment is rapid intervention, so if you do believe your cat has suffered a concussion, contact your vet immediately.
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