Vestibular Disease in Cats Home Treatment

Vestibular Disease in Cats Home Treatment

Vestibular Disease in Cats Home Treatment: Vestibular disease in cats refers to a disorder of the vestibular system, which includes the inner ear and parts of the brain.

Vestibular Disease in Cats Home Treatment

It typically causes balance problems, disorientation, and irregular eye movements in affected cats. If your cat is showing symptoms of vestibular disease, home treatment and supportive care can help relieve discomfort during recovery.

Signs of Vestibular Disease

Signs your cat may have vestibular disease include:

  • Head tilt – tilting the head to one side
  • Nystagmus – irregular eye movements from side to side
  • Circling or stumbling – loss of balance or coordination
  • Vomiting or nausea – due to dizziness and disorientation
  • Anisocoria – unequal pupil size

Causes and Diagnosis

Vestibular disease can be caused by infections, trauma, tumors, or other issues affecting the inner ear or brainstem. To determine the underlying cause, your vet will review your cat’s medical history, symptoms, and perform various tests like blood work, x-rays, or CT scan.

Home Treatment

If the diagnosis is idiopathic vestibular disease (unknown cause), the following home treatments can provide relief during recovery:

  • Offer bland, easy-to-eat food to avoid nausea.
  • Use motion sickness medication as prescribed by your vet.
  • Limit movement that may cause dizziness. Confine your cat in a small room.
  • Gently massage and reposition your cat every few hours to prevent pressure sores.
  • Administer IV fluids or hydration therapy as directed to avoid dehydration.
  • Remove sharp corners or edges in the home to prevent injury if stumbling.
  • Recheck with your vet in 3-7 days for a follow up exam and continued treatment or diagnostics if symptoms do not improve.
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With supportive home care and time, most cats will recover from vestibular disease. However, if symptoms persist or worsen, further veterinary care may be needed to diagnose and treat any underlying conditions.

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Symptoms of Vestibular Disease in Cats to Look Out For

Loss of Balance and Coordination

One of the most common symptoms of vestibular disease in cats is loss of balance, also known as ataxia. Your cat may lose coordination of limbs, stumble, tilt their head, or circle in one direction. They may not be able to walk or even stand steadily. Vestibular disease affects the inner ear, impacting your cat’s sense of balance and spatial orientation.


Nystagmus refers to involuntary eye movements, where the eyes rapidly and uncontrollably flick from side to side, up and down, or in circles. This is caused by the inner ear problem disrupting signals to the eyes and other parts of the brain responsible for controlling eye movement and position.

Nausea and Vomiting

The vestibular system also helps control equilibrium and motion sickness. Damage or inflammation in this system can lead to feelings of nausea, dizziness or vertigo in humans, and similar signs of discomfort in cats. Your cat may vomit, drool or lick excessively due to nausea.

Head Tilt

A head tilt is when a cat chronically holds their head in an abnormal position, usually tilted to one side. This is due to the imbalance in signals from the inner ear to the brain. The head tilt may be subtle or quite pronounced. Some cats may tilt only when walking or standing, while others tilt their head persistently.

Loss of Appetite

Feeling off balance, dizzy and nauseous understandably impacts a cat’s appetite and interest in eating. Do not be alarmed if your cat does not want to eat for the first 24-48 hours. However, if the loss of appetite persists for more than 2-3 days, it can lead to dangerous dehydration and should be addressed by a vet. Offer your cat bland, easy to digest foods with a strong smell to encourage eating.

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By recognizing these symptoms early, home treatment and supportive care can be started right away. However, if symptoms do not start improving within 24-48 hours or get worse at any time, seek immediate veterinary care. Vestibular disease can sometimes be managed at home, but may also require medication or other treatment from a vet.

Home Care Tips for Cats With Vestibular Disease

If your cat has been diagnosed with vestibular disease, the good news is that the majority of cases will resolve on their own within a few weeks with rest and supportive care at home. However, your cat may experience frightening symptoms like loss of balance, circling, nausea, and involuntary eye movements that require your patience and assistance during recovery. By following some key tips, you can keep your cat as comfortable as possible until the condition improves.

Provide a safe environment

Confine your cat to a small room without stairs to avoid falls and injuries. Place food, water, litter box, bedding and any medications within easy reach. Cover slippery floors with carpeting, rugs or yoga mats. Install baby gates to restrict access to the rest of the home. Monitor your cat closely, especially when walking and making turns.

Assist with mobility and daily activities

You may need to help stabilize and support your cat when walking, climbing into the litter box or bed. Gently guide your cat in the right direction if circling. Provide deep, soft bedding to cushion falls. Hand feed and assist with grooming as needed.

Control nausea

If your cat shows symptoms of nausea like drooling or retching, your vet can prescribe anti-nausea medication. You can also try feeding smaller, more frequent meals, keeping food at room temperature, and avoiding rich or fatty foods. Always have fresh, clean water available to avoid dehydration.

Follow-up with your vet

Schedule a recheck with your vet within 7 to 14 days to monitor your cat’s condition and medication needs. Call your vet immediately if symptoms become severe or your cat is unable to stand or walk. In some cases, hospitalization and intravenous fluids may be required.

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With attentive home care and time, the majority of cats will make a full recovery from vestibular disease. However, in certain cases, some permanent loss of balance or cognitive deficits may remain. By following these tips and staying in close contact with your vet, you can support your cat through this difficult condition.


What are the symptoms of vestibular disease?

Symptoms of vestibular disease in cats include:

  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Head tilt
  • Nystagmus (rapid, involuntary eye movements)
  • Circling
  • Vomiting
  • Motion sickness

These symptoms often come on suddenly and worsen with movement. Your cat may seem disoriented, stumble or fall over, and have trouble walking. The symptoms tend to be more severe in older cats.

What causes vestibular disease in cats?

Vestibular disease can be caused by several conditions, including:

  • Inflammation of the inner ear or vestibular system (vestibular neuritis)
  • Infection (otitis media)
  • Blood clot or tumor affecting the vestibular system
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hypertension
  • Trauma to the head

In many cases, an underlying cause is not found and it is classified as idiopathic vestibular disease. Vestibular disease typically affects cats of any age, breed, or gender.

How is vestibular disease diagnosed?

To diagnose vestibular disease, your vet will perform a thorough physical exam, including a neurologic exam. They may order blood tests to check for any underlying conditions. In some cases, imaging such as CT scan or MRI may be recommended to rule out tumors or other structural abnormalities.

How is vestibular disease treated?

The treatment for vestibular disease focuses on managing symptoms and allowing the vestibular system to heal on its own. This may include:

  • Anti-nausea medication such as chlorpromazine to control vomiting
  • Diazepam or meclizine for vertigo and nausea
  • Corticosteroids to reduce inflammation
  • Hospitalization with IV fluids for severe dehydration
  • Physical therapy or balance training exercises to help recover coordination and balance

The prognosis for recovery is generally good, especially for idiopathic vestibular disease. Most cats will regain normal balance and coordination within 2 to 6 weeks, though it can take several months in some cases. Follow-up vet exams are needed to monitor recovery and check for any recurrence of symptoms.

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