Treatment of Vestibular Disease in the Cat

Treatment is largely dependent on primary cause. Click here to learn more about diagnosing the cause of vestibular disease in cats.  If the ear infection is severe enough to causeIMG 5327 300x200 vestibular signs, treatment is needed with both oral and topical antibiotics for 2-4 months.  Unfortunately, relapses happen, most commonly with missed doses.  If these infections are chronic, medical therapy may be of only limited value.  Salvage procedures are available to prevent further disease, most notably a Total Ear Canal Ablation and Bulla Osteotomy (TECA-BO).  This surgery removes the entire ear canal, but typically leaves the cat free of pain and infection.  Unfortunately, the cat is almost always deaf in the surgery side as a result.

While thyroid disease causing vestibular signs is rare, treatment is fairly straightforward.  High thyroid can be treated by medication to lower the excess hormone, though therapy is lifelong.  This disease may also be treated by surgical removal of the gland or radiation ablation of the gland (now the gold standard of therapy).  Cats very rarely experience low thyroid.

Idiopathic vestibular disease has limited treatment options.  To help animals with nausea or difficulty standing, there are oral and injectable anti-nausea medications that will help the body right itself and break the vomiting/nausea cycle.  There has been debate on the utility of steroids in this presentation of vestibular disease, with the current thought against their use at this time.  Many times the body simply has to compensate and work through the neurologic abnormalities until they subside over a period of days-weeks.

Abnormalities in the CSF can be treated with appropriate antibiotics or anti-inflammatories once a diagnosis is made.  It is important to note that these treatments must be continued for long periods of time to clear the CNS.  cancer can be managed well in cats with chemotherapy or radiation; however, cure rates for CNS tumors, like most other tumors, is low.  With that said, treatment can provide excellent quality of life for sometimes extended periods of time.

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Dr Roger Johnson and Dr Kyle Marano

Roger K. Johnson, DVM, Diplomate ACVIM (internal medicine) is a board-certified veterinary internal medicine specialist. His professional interests include cardiology as well as using advanced diagnostics to help his patients. His particular favorites include echocardiography, abdominal ultrasonography, and endoscopy. Kyle Marano, DVM is a small animal veterinarian practicing out of Northern Colorado. He has written pieces ranging from sports commentary and analysis to quips on the every day life of veterinary medicine. His furry family includes a chocolate lab mix and an overly nosy cat.

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