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why does my old cat walk in circles

(Windsor, Ontario Canada)
QUESTION Our male cat is now a senior (15 yrs old). In the last few years, he has slowed down and gained weight. He has been showing some stiffness and signs of age, but we expected that at his age. We switched both our cats (we also have his sister from the same litter) over to a senior formula diet food more than a year ago. They are both big domestic longhairs and his sister has lost plenty of weight since we changed their food. She is a healthy 12-13 pounds down from 18-19. He remains closer to 20 pounds. What concerns us is that recently our male cat has begun walking in circles rather frequently, always turning the same way. He has not been outside and has not suffered any injuries that we know about.

Is this a cause for concern? What could cause this? Is there something we can do for him? If so, what? Please be as detailed in your answer as possible. I hope to hear from you soon. Kind regards, Hi, Steve, What a wonderful photograph! He is so handsome and has such expression on his face. Thank you so much for sharing that with us. There are many times during my career that I actually hope I am wrong and this is one of those times. Due to his age and symptoms, I have to strongly suggest you take your kitty to the vet for a neurologic exam. Circling, and circling in the same direction, can indicate a brain lesion. Cats can get tumors, viruses, infections, and other brain diseases. If this is the case, the prognosis may be poor.

Occasionally an older cat gets an inner ear infection that will make them circle and also have a head tilt and abnormalities with their eyes. If that is the case, the prognosis can be much better. Occasionally a cat who has become blind suddenly will appear to be circling, but not as obviously as the above alternatives. In any event, you must take him to the vet right away. There are treatments for some of the possible conditions and even when there's not a cure, there are medications that can slow down the progression of disease and make him more comfortable for a longer period of time. I certainly hope this turns out to be less serious than it seems. The important thing right now is to get to the vet soon.

I hope you will write back to me and let me know what the diagnosis is and how he is doing. My very best wishes for you, Dr. Neely When an ear infection throws off a cat's balance, it makes the cat appear wobbly and off-kilter. A cat with an ear infection might also exhibit nausea and lack appetite. Other signs of an ear infection include head tilt, head shaking and ear discharge. An ear infection s cause could be one of many things, such as ear wax buildup, an ear tumor, allergies or a ruptured eardrum, but the most likely culprit is eat mites. Your vet will inspect your cat's ears and treat the ailment accordingly, typically with antibiotics, corticosteroids or anti-parasitic or anti-fungal medications.

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