Sunday, July 8, 2007

Feline vestibular syndrome

Feline vestibular disorder: Never heard of it? Neither had we, until our youngest cat, Pearl (that's her in the photo at right), suddenly began showing strange symptoms: She was listing to the left and was kind of trembly, and her eyes were darting like a metronome from left to right, left to right. She would fall over if she tried to walk and generally seemed dizzy and disoriented in the extreme.

I first noticed the head tilt last night but didn't think much of it. This morning we couldn't find her for hours; she didn't show up for breakfast. We scoured the house and finally, at 1 in the afternoon, discovered her curled up in a dark corner in the family room. The symptoms seemed far worse than the night before; I thought she might be having a seizure. It was Sunday. We called our vet's service, but when the doctor hadn't gotten back to us after about an hour, we packed Pearl into the car and headed to an animal emergency center about 20 miles away.

That, as it turned out, was a mistake. Not only did they charge us $500 to run a few tests on Pearl (bloodwork, an X-ray of the stomach to see if she had eaten something poisonous) and then hooked her to an IV, they missed what turned out to be the obvious diagnosis. But we only found that out when we got back home, having left Pearl behind at the emergency vet's. Our vet finally returned our call. "Go back, tell them you want your cat. And when you get her home, call me," he said. God bless Dr. D.

We did as instructed, and got Pearl in to see our vet at 9:15 p.m. Dr. D. advised us that emergency veterinary centers are generally not a wise choice except in the most extreme situations; other than centers in major metropolitan areas (like the Animal Medical Center in New York), the care at these places can be subpar. Then he did what the emergency vet had failed to do: He examined the cat. He had me put her down on the floor so he could see her walk (or attempt to) and he literally got down on his hands and knees to watch her at Pearl-level. When she was back up on the examining table, he looked into her ears and eyes.

She presented, he said, with virtually a textbook case of feline vestibular syndrome, which is a neurological disorder of unknown origin that is something like Meniere's disease in humans. For some reason (also unknown), it strikes most frequently during the summer. Generally, a cat will improve after 72 hours and be completely back to normal in 7 to 14 days, and that of course is what we are hoping for Pearl.

In the meantime, the doctor gave her a valium (sufferers are nauseous and disoriented because the disease affects the nerves of the inner ear, so the sedative will help those symptoms) and tucked her into a cage for overnight observation. If she shows no further or no worse symptoms, it's likely we'll be able to take her home tomorrow.

I miss her already (she's my major cuddle bunny), but am so very relieved that she is in such good hands. We are so lucky to have found the world's smartest, most caring vet--one who will see you at 9:15 on the Sunday night of a holiday weekend.


Jackie said...


Too bad your emergency clinics are subpar. The one we use is fantastic - of course it is staffed by local area vets (our vet staffs it one night every other week).

Glad to hear Pearl is back home and hope she makes a speedy recovery!

Posted by: bogie | July 05, 2005 at 04:29 AM

Hi there, my cat has the same thing. He is 7 yrs old and has been very healthy. Last week we found him in our garage under one of the kids bikes. I also took him to an emergency hospital since he couldn't walk, his eyes were all over the place, head tilted. I had never seen anything like it! They also wanted $500.00 to keep him overnight but I just couldn't afford it so I called my vets emergency # and after I told him his symptoms he said that was likely. Took him home and to the vet the next day. It has been 7 days and he is so much better, still staggers a bit though. I understand it could take up to 3 weeks for him to be completely back to his old self. Best of luck to you with your kitty, it does get better!


Posted by: Toni | July 08, 2005 at 06:22 PM

Hi Toni, thanks for the input. Our vet told us feline vestibular syndrome is more common in summer, for reasons unknown. Our Pearl is much better, though still staggering when she tries to walk. I hope this is a passing thing for her and for your cat too!

Posted by: Jackie | July 09, 2005 at 11:50 AM

I have a four year old male cat that is going through the same situation. He went missing on July 5th, and I finaly found him on the evening of the 7th, under a step, rainsoaked and very confused.

Fearing the worst, I also took him immidiatly to the vet whos best diagnosis was Feline Vestibular Disorder. My fingers are crossed that this is what ails him, as well as your kitties and not an unpleasant alternative.

I notice Pearls eyes look exatly like my cat, mornings.

Of all the animals to effect, why our delicatly balanced kitties?

Best of luck.

Posted by: Galen McGee | July 11, 2005 at 07:23 PM

Thanks so much for writing. Our Pearl is much, much better today and I hope your cat is too. Odd that you commented on her eyes; I've always thought they were rather celestial and otherworldly—but now I wonder if they simply signal some kind of predisposition to feline vestibular syndrome? Apparently, by the way, dogs can get it too. Thank God it's a passing disorder.

Posted by: Jackie | July 12, 2005 at 02:15 PM


My 13 year old cat has become very unbalanced. We ttok him to the vet who checked him over two days running and said she had no idea ? brain tumour, he is doing all the things above except his actual eyes seem fine just he kepps lowering his sead to the right and his top eye lids flutter, he is very well in himself is this feline vestibular syndrome??????????

Posted by: wendy | July 19, 2005 at 06:03 PM

yeek sorry for spelling errors :( My cats name is Benson

Posted by: wendy | July 19, 2005 at 06:06 PM

Wendy, I don't know all that much about it, but my understanding is that the back-and-forth movement of the eyes is one telltale symptom. Also, does Benson fall over when he tries to walk or jump? That's another symptom that comes with the dizziness. Nevertheless, you should raise the question with your vet. I hope Benson will be OK!

Posted by: Jackie | July 20, 2005 at 04:56 PM

Hi, Jackie,

Sorry not to have posted sooner--all three of my guys are doing battle against evil health problems. Killarney's IBD has morphed into lymphoma (one node only, so far, in her belly--big surprise there); poor Duncan is now the proud new owner of a diagnosis of megacolon (my usual vet misdignosed it--for a year!!!)and a depressing array of daily meds and dietary changes; and Dooligan the Hooligan--well, let's just say his intestines have seen some interesting activity lately. Ihave been praying for Pearl, tho, and sending positive energy her way. And to you and George, too--this kind of condition can exhaust the caretakers. Just a couple of observations: The problem occurs more in the summer because the changes in barometric pressure are more pronounced in the summer months. Any time there's a storm, hurricane, tornado, temperature inversion, heat wave where the humidity is, like, 200 percent and unyielding--these are the times FVD is likely to appear, or worsen. When the pressure returns to normal, the symptoms of FVD ease--until, or when, the condition resolves. One thing that might help Pearl is injections (or pills, but the injections work better and are easier on the cat if the cat is nauseated--and most are during an FVD episode, because nausea usually accompanies the dizziness) of Raglan--I forget the generic name--which will ease the nausea and therefore make the dizziness a little easier for her to tolerate, and then work around. It;s the feline equivalent of compazine for hmans. You also don't want to be cleaning her ears with any type of fluid right now--any fluid that leaks into the ear canal will intensify the symptoms. You haven't said whether she's eating normally but if she's not, add enough water to her soft food so that she can lap it instead of shewing it. Chewing, believe it or not, can intensify the dizziness.--That's all I can remember right now; I hope it's been of some help. Oh, also make sure she's not congested. If she has allergies, give her 2.5 mgs of chlortromaton (sp???)or, alternatively, small does of pred. You'd have to discuss that with your vet, but irrespecitve of congestion, the pred can help with the other symptoms of FVD. The downside, of course, is that it's pred, a steroid, and we don't like steroids as a rule. Since it sounds like Pearlie is on well on her way to recovery rather than just starting down that path, pred might be overkill. JUst thought I'd mention in the interest of full disclosure...Hope she continues to improve, and that I'll be able to catch up with you one of these days.

Cheers (and gentle thoughts)--


P.S. Is the Diana to whom Snapper belongs the Diana we both know?? Snapper sure is a beauty--LOVE those eyes.

Posted by: Anne | July 23, 2005 at 03:57 AM

Anne, thank you SO much! I'll check with my vet re. the Raglan (and try to stay away from the pred unless things get worse). Pearl is a whole bunch better and is eating OK, but when she was first sick we did mix water into her soft food--instinctively, it felt like the right thing to do. Meanwhile, what awful news re. your trio. You never seem to get an easy run with your cats. And yes, Snapper is the latest edition to the S. family! Apparently Nollie, their ocicat, is accepting him just fine.

Posted by: Jackie | July 23, 2005 at 07:34 AM

Thanks to all of you for your comments about feline vestibular disorder. Although I had worked at an animal hospital many years ago and have lived with dozens of cats, I had not heard of this.

My 8-year-old red tabby, Abner, was found under my van early in the morning following severe thunderstorms, showing all the symptoms of FVD.

We were fortunate to have a knowledgeable and caring veterinarian who quickly made the correct diagnosis without unnecessary and expensive X rays and tests and Abner is recovering very well.

Thanks, again.

Posted by: Carol | August 18, 2005 at 09:23 AM

Hi, I just read the posts here. I took our kitty Tiger to the ER vet on Thursday night. She fell off the bed, trie to walk like a drunken sailor. Out vet yesterday keep her overnight and we brought her home today. She has all the described symptoms of Feline Vestibular Disorder. We live in the midwest and just came out of a major week of thunder-storms and heat in the 90-100 range. Tiger is better this evening and I pray she gets better every day as it seems Pearl has. I look forward to checking the posts here. Thanks for all the info. I feel much better knowing other folks have simular issues.

Lana :)

Posted by: Lana | August 20, 2005 at 09:19 PM

My 4 year old cat Annie sounds like she had an episode of FVD yesterday. She was perfectly fine, ate a little food and then suddenly pulled herself across the yard and was disoriented. We thought she fell out of a tree, but when we took her to the emergency vet, they indicated she was extremely dizzy and wanted to keep her for observation. She is on an IV and seems to be a bit better today. I plan to call them to see if this is a possible diagnosis.

Posted by: Carol | September 12, 2005 at 05:03 PM

I was awakened at 2:30 am this morning with the most heart wrenching meows of distress. I stumbled out of bed to find my Snooky sprawled out on the kitchen floor, next to the trashcan which she must have knocked over coming in through the window. Never have I seen a more pitiful sight. She couldn't walk, her eyes were all over the place. It looked almost like a seizure. She cried nonstop for about 10-15 minutes. In the meantime I had put in a call to the local vet. I am new, in a very rural area, and was so relieved to find not only did the vet have an answering service, but would call back. After a few minutes, the phone rang. He thought by my description of symptoms, that maybe she had gotten into something. ( The overturned trashcan could certainly make you suspicous )

He was so kind, saying I could bring her over now. It was almost 3 am! What a great vet! But, in the interim, "Snooky" had not only settled down, but was even, to my amazement, purring...though still tilting to one side and unable to balance herself. I was astounded at how she went from this seizure-like state that had me thinking the a calmer, if still wobbly kitty contentedness. I told the vet we could probably wait until the morning, and he said OK, but if I needed to call back, he'd still see her.

It's now 4 am. Thank God for all your comments. Snooky will be seeing the vet, but reading of all your experiences has taken a huge load off my mind. I really thought she was suffering & dying from some unknown ailment. It does seem this is what may be going on with Snooky.

The humidity here in SE PA is 100% tonight.

Posted by: Marie | September 22, 2005 at 04:05 AM

Wow! Great postings and right when I need them. My 14 year old cat has never had any health problems and is friskey for her age. My vet was wonderful and said xrays and brain scans are not helpful and rarely show up in these procedures for certain conditions. My vet believes she probably had a stroke, but has not ruled out FVS. She has one eye totally dialited and the other normal. Her eyes are moving back and forth. Her head is turned completely around to her shoulder furthest away. She is on an anti-inflamatory, a baby aspririn every 4 days, and an antibotic. She cannot walk and flips because she cannot really lay down nor get comfortable because of head position. It breaks my heart and I am holding her nonstop. Vet says I should see some improv. in 24-48 hours. She is alert and even purrs. Do you think her head will return to normal position, even if it is a combinatin of FVS and a stroke? The facts surrounding the weather and FVS are astounding to me considering the significant barometric changes of hurricane Rita. Lots of food for thought there. Thank you all and send some prays to Cleopatra. Sincerely, Lezley A.

Posted by: Lezley | September 24, 2005 at 10:25 PM

Thank goodness for knowlegable vets. I have 3 cats. Lucky, my fourteen year old cat, began showing symptoms of FVD by late night sorrowful-meowing and circling. Her head also turned as far to the right as it would turn. Two months later, her head has returned to a normal position. She still circles on occasion, and meows strangly late at night. Now, another of my cats is wobbling and showing signs of FVD. I'm wondering if this is a viral or environmental problem.

Posted by: Norma Smith | October 02, 2005 at 05:55 PM

I am so glad I found your site! I cried myself to sleep last night after I found my little kitty (Uryllium) huddled under an old couch in the barn. His head was tilted downward and to his left and he could not stand up. At first I thought he had gotten into something toxic but then I thought this was probably not the case as he didn't seem to be hemoraging. So then I thought he must be dying...what a horrible thought! After typing his symptoms into google I found this site and was unbelievably relieved! Uryllium has all the signs and symptoms of the other cats here. I can only hope that he does return to himself in a week or two as FVD would suggest. The only question I cannot seem to find the answer to is whether or not this disorder is contageous....I am assuming it's not - seeing as it's neurological....but I'd really like to see that in writing before I put Uryllium in with my other cats.

Posted by: Marsha | October 19, 2005 at 06:21 AM

Hello to all, My 6 year old cat Athena has the exact symptoms of what you are all describing as FVS. I took her to a vet hospital today and she is being monitored overnight. I am posting this because I wanted to ask whomever can respond a question. I do believe my Athena has FVS but the problem with me waiting for it to go away is that she will not eat anything or drink anything. And she also will not go to the bathroom. The vet hospital gave me a price quote for almost $2300 for an MRI they want to do on her. I don't have the money and I was just wondering if anyone out there who has had a cat with FVS knew what to do about getting them to eat and keep hydrated until it passes. Please if anyone knows anything at all that can help me I would be very happy if you would take a few moments and e-mail me. I am devastated to think I might have to but my beloved Athena to sleep. Thank you all. ~Farrah

Posted by: Farrah Chearazi | October 19, 2005 at 11:53 PM

Just went thru this situation last night with my otherwise very healthy 8 yr old DSH cat, Jade. Thought she may have gotten into antifreeze based on symptoms of intoxication & those wild darting eyes others have mentioned. She had been confined in the house for the past 24 hours & there's no antifreeze inside but I didn't know what else it could be - only that something was obviously VERY wrong with her when I got home from work yesterday evening.

Fortunately, the vet at the animal ER clinic was very conscientious & gave her a fairly thorough exam. She said there was alot of 'gunk' in Jades' left ear that might be putting pressure on the vestibular nerve causing inflamation, so cleaned & flushed both ears & started antibiotics. She also gave her a steroid inj for swelling & treated for dehydration. No viral or fungal organisms, no cancerous cells, no bacterial infection, no trauma, all tests were basically non-conclusive; to the tune of $350

Jade began exhibiting signs of 'Horner's Syndrome' in addition to the FVS early this morning; her 3rd eyelid is up on that left side which means additional nerves are now also involved. ER doc said it could be a brain tumor or some other serious neurological problem & was talking brain x-rays, bloodwork, endoscopic exploration of ear canal and/or sinus cavities, etc to further diagnose what's going on. She recommended follow-up this morning with our regular vet so that's where Jade is at the moment.

My vet said he would take a conservative approach & treat her first of all with some type of medication used for vertigo to try to get her balance back. Will continue antibiotics/anti-inflammatories in an effort to address whatever is going on in her ear canal. If vertigo meds don't help within 24-48 hours, we'll have to discuss further options. So I'm hoping & praying the meds work because I hate the thought of having to decide between what's financially practical vs trying to treat my beloved Jade when there's a strong possibility she can't be saved if it is indeed a tumor.

I have 9 yr old Siamese (Tia) at home & so far she appears to be fine but then again, this time yesterday morning so was Jade. Thank goodness I ran across your site & can read that others have been through this and had positive outcomes. It would be interesting to find out if there has been a higher than usual incidence rate this year with all the bizarre weather patterns we've had. Can't help but wonder if "Wilma" out there in the Atlantic has any bearing on what happened to Jade yesterday? I can see how huge drops in barometric pressure in a short period of time could be responsible in some way but that's something way beyond my ability to control. I remember about 5 years ago, 30 minutes before a tornado hit within 2 miles of my house at 5:30 a.m. - those two cats KNEW something was about to happen. They went absolutely berserk, running from window to window in the house, crying pififully & just acting totally petrified. When I found out around 7 a.m. about the tornado, I thought that explained why they were behaving so oddly. They could sense 'something' in the air that is imperceptible to us humans.

Anyway, thanks for letting me ramble on & thanks for putting this info out there. I'm feeling somewhat disoriented & off-balance myself with worry but trust all will turn out for the best. I'll send an update on Jade's condition when possible. Thanks for any prayers!

Posted by: Becky | October 20, 2005 at 12:54 PM

We have a 12 week old kitten that seems to be displaying these symptoms. She was fine on Friday evening, but Saturday a.m. having difficulty walking at times with her hind end. Tends to walk into dark places and just stay there "almost stuck". I am quite concerned & worried about it being contagious, as we have her 12 week old litter mate also & 2 dogs.

Anyway...did some web reading & found a site that recommended giving Vitamin C & vitamin B12 to help the immune system. I didn't have B12. The Vitamin C is supposed to help the immune system as cats produce it naturally unlike us & it gets depleted when they are ill. The B12 is supposed to increase appetitie. I only had VC, so crushed some into some milk and used a syringe to administer to the kitten. She had heavy breathing / panting & doesn't seem to be able to see very well.

This morning, she was meowing and hungry, so fed her & she ate well. She still doesn't seem right, but is moving better. I'm not certain if her eye sight has been affected.

...any thoughts appreciated.

Posted by: Marie | October 30, 2005 at 09:05 AM

Marie, our vet didn't say that FVS is contagious, and we have five other cats who didn't come down with it—only poor Pearl. If I were you, though, I'd get your kitten to the vet to make sure this is what she has and not some other kitten disease. Good luck; it sounds like if it is FVS, it's not a really severe case, since the cat is hungry and seems better now.

Posted by: Jackie | November 02, 2005 at 09:05 AM

Hi Pearl (and Jackie)!

It's Springtime in Australia, but it's been over 30 celsius most days this week. My cat Buttons, who was born with congenital heart disease and is now 3 years old, suddenly at 1pm started exhibiting all sorts of strange symptons ... she fell off her piece if furniture and landed badly, her whole body was shakey and trembly, her eyes kept darting involuntarily, her head was tilted ...

Of course, I thought "Stroke!" but she was completely back to normal after 1/2 an hour (why do these things always happen on weekends, Sundays, public holidays, when it's hard to get hold of a decent vet?) and has been fine for the past 9 hours.

Looking for information, I found your webpage ... and Pearl's symptoms matched Buttons' symptoms to a T!

You probably knew that you would be helping people by putting Pearl's experiences (and your's) online, but I just wanted to say THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.

I can sleep tonight knowing that Buttons will see her normal vet tomorrow, and knowing that this could well be unrelated to the heart disease.

May I ask ... how is Pearl doing now??

Posted by: Catherine | November 06, 2005 at 07:50 AM

I am glad that I have found this site with a lot of useful information. I have Kati, a ~6yo DSH. She started showing these signs about 4 weeks ago when she fell off the bed one morning and stumbled around unable to walk. Well being a loving pet owner I rushed her to the local animal hospital. (the vet on my Air Force base was not open) They ran the usual run of tests and came up with nothing. The doc there mentioned FVD but said there was nothing to correct it and that it should pass in a matter of a few weeks. I got an antibiotic perscription thinking about the possibility of an ear infection. She improved drasticly the first week and now is kinda up and down. her eyes were never moving strangely but she lists heavily to the left and will not try to jump on anything. She walks okay with the occasional stagger. How long does this tend to last or will she always have these issues? She looks at me with her head tilted 45 degrees to the left all the time. She doesnt seem to be bothered by it though. Her attitude is still exactly the same. No prblems with appetite either. Just wondering how long this will last. Thank you. My best wishes for all of your animals!

Posted by: Kevin | November 11, 2005 at 01:13 AM

Kevin, the acute stage last about 3 days (Kati seems to have already passed through it). Then there's a slow recovery period of 3 or 4 weeks. After that, the vast majority of cats are back to normal (or so I'm told) and a few -- like my cat, Pearl-- continue to have residual effects. Pearl's head is still tilted a little bit. However, cats are very adaptable and seem to manage OK, even though they might be viewing the world sideways!

Posted by: Jackie | November 11, 2005 at 09:10 AM

I cannot believe there is a discussion underway about this phenomenon--another one of those times when you marvel about the awesome and useful it can truly be.

Friday night I heard a crash from the kitchen. I moved here last month, and there are still boxes and things out of place, and one or other of my two 6-month-old kittens is frequently creating minor mayhem by climbing into and knocking over boxes and such. So I've gotten used to ignoring crashings unless it sounds like something serious. Friday I was completely ill with a horrendous stomach virus, so really didn't feel like charging into the kitchen and seeing who knocked over what.

But shortly afterward, little Edward and Jasper came into the livingroom. Edward's tail was up as if he were rather proud of causing minor havoc in the kitchen, but Jasper was wobbling. And then he started walking in circles. "Jasper!" I cried, but he kept going. As I got up to get him, he fell over on his side, got up and stumbled again. I held him, and his eyes were darting back and forth rapidly. I was terrified and alarmed and had no idea what to do.

So I Googled cat staggering eyes moving walking circles, and found a site that said if your cat has any of the above symptoms to call a vet IMMEDIATELY. Called the emergency clinic, and told them how sick I was (I won't be graphic about it but the stomach virus I had wouldn't allow me to move around much without being sick again), and they said it could wait--maybe when he knocked over the box in the kitchen it hit him on the head--and to check his symptoms the next day.

Next day (Saturday) I spent in bed, with both kittens tucked in around me, washing, purring, and dozing, while I lay there very ill. Jasper seemed fine. I figured the odd behavior must have been the after effects of getting bonked on the head by the box. Saturday late afternoon I felt a bit better and got up, and so did the cats. Jasper, who had seemed fine all day, was wobbling again and his eyes started going. I called my vet and they were closed. I called the emergency clinic and they said to bring him over.

The vet did awesome tests. He held Jasper's body and hind legs and made him walk with his front legs--like a wheelbarrow race--then he held everything but his hind legs and had him walk that way, and he was fine. Then he did eye tests and ear tests, and clanged a lid of a cotton jar on the floor and moved it around to see whether Jasper could follow it--he could. He told me it was either: (a) concussion from the kitchen incident--unlikely, and what was more likely was Jasper fell in the kitchen because he was getting these symptoms, (b) inner ear infection, but he didn't show elevated white count when they drew blood, and had no fever, (c) Feline HIV or leukemia (tested for both and were negative), (d) Feline Vestibular Syndrome, or (e) tumor.

He told me that as a vet of 20 years he has seen a lot of Feline Vestibular Syndrome. He said it is not as rare as one would think. It's not totally common either, but he's seen many many cases over the years. He says (as many here have reported) that it usually occurs at times of seasonal change. Up here in Maine it's just beginning to get very cold. He said the virus causing it may be a member of that illustrious herpes virus famly. It attacks the vestibular nerve apparatus, usually on one side or the other, which is a long string of nerve cells that run from somewhere around the cat's eye/ear all the way down the length of the body to the legs. Like chicken pox and herpes zoster ("shingles"), which occurs along nerves, Feline Vestibular Syndrome presents similarly, along a line of nerves.

"The vestibular apparatus is the neurological equipment responsible for perceiving one's body's orientation relative to the earth (determining if you are upside-down, standing up straight, falling etc.) and informing ones eyes and extremities how they should move accordingly.

"The vestibular apparatus allows us to walk, even run, on very uneven ground without falling, helps us know when we need to right ourselves, and allows our eyes to follow moving objects without becoming dizzy."


My vet said FVS sends messages to the cat's brain repeatedly saying they are are unbalanced and are about to fall over. Of course they are not about to fall over, but as a result of receiving this message, the cat shifts to the other side so they don't "fall down." Since they were not going to fall down in the first place -- since they were standing straight up on terra firma--they end up falling or staggering the other direction. You'll notice they fall and stagger and circle only on one side. It's because only one vestibular nerve is usually affected by the virus at once.

The vet also explained that when you turn your head it's the vestibular nerve that tells your brain "OK, you need to move your eyes too." When a cat has FVS the reason their eyes dart back and forth is the nerves keep being irritated, and send the message that their head is turning (like "your head is turning...your head is turning...your head is turning ... your head is turning... your head is turning...your head is turning...your head is turning..." over and over again. So their eyes "turn" too--over and over again.

Poor kitties!

Like other people here, I find that Jasper is otherwise "fine," if that makes any sense. He's eating well, drinking water, playing a little bit (albeit awkwardly), washing, hanging out near me and with his brother, coming for pettings, purring, etc. But he also is sleeping a lot--and none of the usual sleeping on his back with his legs splayed or stretching out like an earthworm. He's in a fairly tight ball. He seems strong, alert, and not "sickly," but definitely quiet--avoiding the usual run, jump, pounce, kick games.

I called my vet's office today and got a vet I'd never talked to before. She said she was concerned that it might not be FVS because usually kittens are not afflicted with it. Instead, she suggested, it might be Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). She painted a terrible dour picture of what that is, and basically kittens get this and will die within weeks. She said there is no way of diagnosing it, no test for it, and no treatment nor cure. She said I could take him to a neurologist for more information, but MRIs and CAT scans would not really show anything useful. I thought she was really quite a b$%^& about it. I looked it up on the web and found that the symptoms of FIP are not at all consistent with what's happening with Jasper.

So, if he doesn't seem to be getting any better at all in a few days I will call the vet's office and try to talk to the nice vet who neutered Jasper and Edward last month.

Anyway---thanks to everyone for their great informative postings. I hope everyone's cats get better soon. Isn't it bizarre to have such a troubliong thing happen to your pet and then discover a group of strangers sharing the same or very similar experience?! I feel very fortunate. Thanks again!

Posted by: Susan | November 14, 2005 at 04:13 PM


We rushed my 11-year-old cat to the emergency vet on Saturday night after he presented with FVS symptoms. He's never been sick a day, but his eyes were rapidly moving from side to side, and he clearly was suffering from vertigo. My first thought was poison, but this seemed unlikely as we're pretty baby-proof. Then I imagined it had to be a stroke or a brain tumor.

2 days and $800 later (I LOATHE the emergency clinic) we really had no answers. They did some x-rays, but all was inconclusive -- it could be a brain tumor, it could be an inner ear infection.

I've been thinking I'd have to put my poor Max to sleep after all these years...but despite the continued vertigo, he's been eating and using his litter box. He seems really annoyed that we're trying to make special accommodations for him; he'd rather have things the way he's used to having them.

So, I assumed he'd had a stroke, and if his prognosis was good, we'd just have a sideways kitty for the next 8 years or so. I'm okay with that. We're moving to a new house that has no steps, so he'll have an easier time there!!

Then my co-worker told me about FVS, and I found your site. Thank goodness! We'll mention this to our vet tonight, and I'm willing to bet this is what he has.

Thanks for posting this helpful info!

Posted by: Aimee | November 15, 2005 at 10:53 AM

UPDATE: This is my 2nd posting. Yesterday I posted a voluminous record of Jasper and his encounter with FVS. Today is Day #4, and Jasper is 80% better. The change is astounding! The vet had said the acute phase usually lasts 72 hours--which seems to be exactly right (with after-effects of up to 3 weeks). Today Jasper played wildly and did not fall over at all. He retired to a corner to rest after the playing bout, and stayed there in a ball for a few hours while his brother continued frolicking on and off--so he seems not to be feeling perfect. On the other hand, his eyes aren't zooming around his head anymore and he isn't staggering (almost has a little "limp," but not quite). So, that's the unexpected news from Jasper's house!

Posted by: Susan | November 15, 2005 at 05:18 PM

Epilogue: 10 days after the onset of what appears to have been FVS Jasper is back to normal...almost.

I say "almost" because he is sitting and lying down more than he was before the he showed symptoms of FVS. He's super energetic, but a teeny bit wobbly on his feet. He's not as involved with games involving jumping straight up, and also is not leaping up on tables and counters as often.

For example, his twin brother Edward has figured out how to jump from floor to cabinet to the top of the refrigerator. Generally Jasper would be right behind him, but so far he isn't showing any interest.

In retrospect...when I think back on Jasper since his babyhood (he's 6 months) it *does* seem that he may have always been a tiny bit different. I love him to bits, and all cats are wonderfully odd, but he's always seemed a teeny bit less engaged with what's going on around him...just a wee bit distracted or "spacy." His gait has never been elegant or slinky or smooth as other cats. He has always sort of sauntered, with almost a limp. And now that I think about it, Jasper was always the kitten falling asleep and then tumbling off the couch or rolling off the bed. We considered him adorably clumbsy, but I wonder now whether those characteristics (i.e., not a super-great sense of balance) are indicative of a predisposition to FVS.

In any case, Jasper is happy as a lark, eating like a little piggie, acting the clown, instigating various kitten hijinx and--thank goodness--his eyes aren't darting around his head, he isn't turning round and round in circles, and he doesn't fall over when he walks now.

Posted by: Susan | November 21, 2005 at 08:41 PM

Thank you so much for making this information available. We had to rush our calico, Macey to the Pet Med emergency clinic last night due to the same symptoms you have discussed. It appeared to be so sudden. She had been in my daughter's bedroom most of the day and we had not been at home; when my daughter went to her room last night, Macey could hardly stand; it was pitiful; she would fall down or just lay down because she couldn't walk; she was very thirsty and drank lots of water, then seemed to be gagging. You would have thought she had had "too much to drink". She acted really hungry as well, even though she had already been fed. She tried to eat the dry food but could not chew or swallow. She would try to get the food in her mouth but it would just fly out of the dish onto the floor. It is of course November and has been 30 - 40 degrees at night and 50's during the day so that would not coincide with the connection to summertime; however, a floor heater had been left running in my daughter's bedroom, so I'm wondering whether that would have had any effect

on her condition. The emergency room doctor did not have a clue after $300.00 worth of bloodwork and the cat having to be sedated to obtain bloodwork. He sent her home with pain medicine and said to watch her for 24 hours. She had improved some by the time she arrived home and seems better now. I will pass this information along to my vet and possibly to emergency room vet and hope they consider it helpful. Please feel free to respond. Thanks again!!!

Posted by: amy | November 23, 2005 at 06:46 AM

Two nights ago my 3 year old female cat Chavesz suddenly could not stand or walk, her eyes were rapidly moving left to right and she had used the bathroom on herself. I examined her whole body including ears and mouth and could find nothing wrong, I thought she may have been poisened and I was about to lose her, we live in a small town where you cannot call anyone after 5:00 pm and when they are open they want $60.00 just to talk to you. We ran into financial trouble and are completely broke, so I was frantic because I felt like there was nothing I could do to help her. I stayed with her all night dozing in and out of sleep while she slept and she made it through the night, the next morning her eyes wer moving slower and she did not seem frantic anymore. I went to the library and searched through web pages trying to find something that even remotely sounded like what Chavesz was experiencing and finally found this website. This site explained exactly what her symptoms were and she is improving a little at a time, she is eating a little more and drinking a little more, her eyes stopped moving side to side, when she needs to use the bathroom she attempts walking and I pick her up and carry her to the litter box. It is so sad to see her falling over as she tries to walk and stand but I am so glad that she is improving already. It is nice to see her purring and giving kisses again when I pet her. I am thankful for all the posts, this site was such a great help.

Posted by: Heathersfur | December 02, 2005 at 10:08 AM

holy toledo!

Am I glad to see all this talk on this cat (wooly pants)has been battling it for weeks now, since hurricane Rita! My vet has kept her on a steady diet of bonine, antibiotics and steroids and she's still struggling on certain days when there's a weather change. Today we had really bad thunderstorms and threats of tornados. Sure enough, when I got home from work, wooly pants' symptoms were much worse. I'm going to have to keep a closer eye on her when I know storms are headed our way, as she becomes clumsier. Thanks for the weather insight into this!

Posted by: cath | December 14, 2005 at 07:39 PM

Hi again,

A sad epilogue to my post of early November ... it would appear Buttons did NOT have FVS, but rather had high blood pressure which caused Nystagmus. We didn't know she was sick, and she gave no indication herself - appetite normal, thirst normal, interest in life normal. But at 5.45am on Monday 19th Dec 2005 Australian Eastern Daylight Time, Buttons developed saddle thrombosis as we watched, and despite immediate medical care totalling thou$and$ at the emergency vet, she passed almost exactly 7 hours after that time.

I post this in case Buttons' passing may help others who come to this site, to know to request a blood-pressure check, and maybe even an x-ray or echo to check the size of the heart, because blood pressure can vary -- ALL vet visits are stressful and raise blood pressure anyway.



Posted by: Catherine | December 22, 2005 at 05:56 PM

Has anyone ever seen FVS without nystagmus (eye movement)? All labwork and xrays are normal on my cat but she cannot walk at all (very sudden onset) without doing a somersault or falling over and keeps her low and turned to the side. thanks

Posted by: Diane | January 24, 2006 at 12:41 PM

My cat, April, had these similar symptoms this summer. I found her contorted in a back room, flailing on her back and side, trying to get up. I thought she was dying. It looked like a stroke. She seemed to calm down and lay steady on the way to the emergency vet. She was diagnosed with Vestibular syndrome but was kept overnight for observation. She was given fluids under the skin to hydrate her, but no treatment advised. She came home with me $400 later the next day. I continued giving her fluids under the skin. She recovered quickly. Within another day or so.

Now Again this morning six months later she exhibited the same but more severe symptoms. Rolling violently always to the same side. I did not want to spend another $400 so I kept her in a padded small crate and observed her. Although she rested quite a bit, she would wake up and thrash. She started thrashing again at 11:30pm, and I ran to her. I planned to try and get some fluids in her when the symtoms subsided. She had one last twist and went quiet. I am afraid to say, she expired. This seemed like the same vestibular incident. It was more severe but within the descriptions on the web, and similar to her summer incident. I was ready to put her down all day... arranging to have a vet come put her down, but decided to give her 24 hours. A wait was a suggestion from the vet. I doubt anything could have saved her. She was blind and may have had a tumor, which I understand is a rare catalyst for this syndrome. I am so sad.

I also had an older border collie dog a few years ago who had what looked like a stroke. I rushed him to the vet. It was diagnosed as geriatric vestibular syndrome. No treatment is recomended. Just nurse and protect the animal from injury. He did recover but always had a slight head tilt after that. Anyway, as distressing as it is to witness... it is most likely to be Vestibular syndrome.. April was blind and her eyes were dialated so it was hard to see a darting eye movement. The darting rolling eyes tell of the non-fatal vestibular syndrome. I am guessing she was one of the very rare cases that was triggered by a tumor. There is absolutely no way to tell it is a tumor causing it except possibly with extreamely expensive x-rays. mri's., blood work.etc. Even though I lost her, I believe getting her to a vet would have been futile and would not have saved her. I hope for all of you that your pet is experiencing the very scary but temporary version of this. If you are heading for the vet be sure to make vestibular syndrome your first consideration!! Bless all the beautiful animals~!!!

Posted by: Linda Clark | January 30, 2006 at 01:33 AM

3 days ago, my cat Schmitty (female 9 y/o DSH) started to walk a little funny. We thought that she had either hurt her foot, leg or hip and would heal. After 3 days, she really started wobbling and staggering and her eyes would slowly move to the right and then dart back to the left, in a very consistent pattern. Also similar to the cats mentioned here: she had her normal disposition, normal appetite and purred constantly as usual. She seemed fine when laying down or sitting. Our vet examined her: watched her walk and fall, looked in her ears, did a blood pressure test and a full blood panel. The blood pressure was normal and the blood panel was normal as well (a tad high on the white blood cell count). He said that Schmitty's eye pattern, moving from left to right and then jerking back, suggested that there was something going on in the right side of her head. Our vet concluded that it could be: inner ear infection, brain related infection or brain tumor (benign or malignant). He suggested we start Schmitty on antibiotics and steroids to combat the infection/inflamation/tumor. I don't remember our vet mentioning FVS as a possible cause. I will check with him on this issue today. Anyway, it has been 24 hours since she has been on the meds and she seems to be the same, no better no worse. She did vomit and I assume that this is due to the vertigo. However, she's still eating like normal. I will post again after a couple of days with an update.

Posted by: Kellie | February 03, 2006 at 01:54 PM

One more thing... I found a good webpage that describes Vestibular disease:

Posted by: Kellie | February 03, 2006 at 02:06 PM

Update: Schmitty has been on the meds for 48 hours and seems to be almost back to normal (very minor balance issue). Her severe symptoms lasted about 72 hours. After discussing this with my vet, we've decided that it could have been FVS or it could have been an inner ear infection/inflammation. Never will know. I'm glad that we decided to pursue agressively with tests and meds, so that in either scenario we are taking steps to help Schmitty. I would caution anyone reading this forum to not automatically assume that their cat's symptoms are due to FVS. They are all symptoms that can also be caused by inner ear infections, head trauma, etc. I agree that a thorough physical by a vet, a blood test and blood pressure test are all good to do to help determine the actual cause.

Posted by: Kellie | February 04, 2006 at 03:05 PM

I live in the UK and our siamese had all the symptoms of FVS a few days before Christmas. He made a partial recovery but two months later he is having off days when he walks in circles and occasionaly loses his balance. He is more nervous than before the attack and can only jump to low levels. The temperature here at this time of the year is just above freezing. Has anyone else

had a cat that behaved like this?

Posted by: Ron Foreman | February 22, 2006 at 09:27 AM

About six weeks ago our cat Missy (about 10-12 years old, we think) exhibited these exact symptoms, minus the eye twitching/movement. A trip to the emergency vet, an MRI, a spinal tap, and much $$$ later the vet could not give us a diagnosis. Several days later, Missy returned to her normal self. Our regular vet said that a stroke was unlikely, but didn't speculate on what it might be. Missy also had a slight ear infection (a chronic problem for her during the 6+ years that we have had her) so she was prescribed an antibiotic for that condition, but no other meds. Unfortunately, the same symptoms presented yesterday. Since the trips to the emergency vet and subsequent tests were so stressful for Missy, we decided to wait a day or two and call our regular vet today. Haven't received a return call from the vet as of yet, but I'm very relieved to read these postings. I'm hoping that these symptoms are related to Missy's chronic ear infections, and I will be better prepared to ask the doc more questions this time. Thanks so much. Has anyone else been through this multiple times with the same kitty?

Posted by: Cindy Varner | March 02, 2006 at 10:27 AM

In response to the last posting: Sometimes the eye movement is barely visible. I was only able to see it when I held my cat's head steady and held her eyes open wide. Ear infections seem to be a common cause for FVS, especially when blood tests, blood pressure, etc... are all normal. You can get more info at:

Posted by: Kellie | March 03, 2006 at 11:59 AM


George had a very bad night monday, we live in NJ and had very bad thunder, we have suddenly noticed when the barometric pressure drops George does not do well. Has anyone else seen a pressure change bother their cat? How long does this last? George also has had seizures because of this and a MRI that showed NOTHING. Need any and all information George needs help, i hate to see him this way, it is just not him


Posted by: Pam | March 15, 2006 at 07:32 PM

So grateful for these postings. My 11-yr-old daughter's 6 mo kitten, Hammie, went in for neuter surgery and since then has been displaying these symptoms. Maybe there's hope? He has a great appetite and is clearly feeling physically better r.e., the surgery, but cannot walk a straight line or even stand up straight. He has the other symptoms - eye/head metronome movement but purrs like crazy when you hold him still in a dark room. I've been afraid to let him out of his crate for too long for fear he would hurt himself. My daughter will be so relieved when she reads this posts. She's been crying and asking if he'll need to be put down. He's such a wonderful kitten... Will post an update. It's been three days since onset now. Thanks!

Posted by: Sharon | March 24, 2006 at 11:21 PM

I have a 3 yr old female cat, she is indoor only. She suddenly developed a wobbling back end last weekend. It appears to be just the one side. I took her the vet and they did x-rays, blood work and unrine test. All came back 100 % normal according to my vet. But now its a week gone by and she still has not improved. They said I should just watch her. I am so confused as to what this can be. She doesnt have the wandering eye problem I have been reading about but she does have the wobbling walk... has anyone experience this situation? Also this morning I noticed she went to the litter box but pee'd very tiny amount...I am very concerned about her, I am going to call the vet this morning, but, Any advice would be appreaciated. Thank you.

Posted by: Rochele | March 26, 2006 at 11:13 AM

Rochele: I would go back and read up on this Web site It was very helpful to us. We printed it out and took it to the vet. He said good for us for finding it - he hadn't had much experience with it, other than to know there is no cure, that it's a waiting game. Reading through all these posts, that really rang true. Last evening, we were very excited to see Hammie's pupils back to a normal reaction (they were constantly dilated previously). AND he can walk! That's a huge improvement. Before, we would set him down and he would literally fall over. Now, he can walk and when held, he can hold his head still and relax. He's tired alot and doesn't use the litter box regularly (he's so busy fighting his own body, that he's exhausted). I understand what you mean - it's horrible to watch. He was a normal vibrant active kitten before this struck. But after reading the posts, we're all prepared to wait it out... 3, 4, 5 months - whatever it takes. Otherwise, he appears healthy. We keep him contained in a bathroom or in a crate - if someone needs to use that room. We have stairs and that's not something he's even remotely prepared to navigate. The vet also recommended vitamins B-12 (liquid form) and C (crushed pills). It's not absolutely proven to help, but it won't hurt. I wish I knew more to help but I tell my daughter, just bring him through with calmness, love and attention because he is likely more freaked out than us...

Posted by: Sharon | March 26, 2006 at 11:39 PM

Hi. It is now April 9th and our night was spent in the Emergency Vets with our 1 1/2 year old cat, Smokey. Smokey's onset was pretty clear. On Thursday this past week she became tired. I noticed she wasn't eating. We left her alone to sleep which is what it seemed she wished. Friday, I had to go locate Smokey because I knew she had not been outside to go to the bathroom. She was sleeping in a dark spot under our bed. I filled a litter box and put her in it. She urinated but had no bowel movement. I put her in front of some food but she did not eat or drink. She otherwise seemed fine, just tired so I thought I would give it another day and I put her on my son's bed since this is his cat. Saturday night after work I went looking for Smokey again after checking the litter box and food. Neither had been touched. I was very alarmed as this had gone on too long now. I located Smokey on my daughter's bed and was relieved she had to have gotten up there by herself. I took her directly to the litterbox which she used but again no bowel movement. She seemed a little wobbly so when she finished, I put her in front of her food. She fell over and kept trying to get up. My son and I rushed Smokey to the vet. They too wanted to do some very expensive tests but the vet was kind enough to tell us that he was pretty sure vestibular disease was what it was and that it had to go away on it's own. Smokey received fluids under the skin and a steroid shot. Today I am calling our regular vet for antiboitics and something to help Smokey keep her food down as she threw up severely this morning. I am just waiting till a decent hour to call while Smokey rests. Our concern is Smokey can not keep her food down or get to her litter box by herself. She's had no accidents at all so we worry about the toxins that may be building up from not properly going when she needs to and holding it in. Last Night Smokey's eyes were not moving back and forth but today they absolutely are and it is alarming to watch. We fostered Smokey at two weeks old and then adopted her. Until now, although a rough start (her litter mate passed) she has been healthy and always quite active. We live in Florida and we have had no hurricanes in seven months. We are expecting rain today but looking out the window - as much as we need it - it doesn't seem likely, besides, Smokey's problems started last Thursday if not before with her being lethargic. Anyway - if anyone knows how to get some food to stay down for Smokey and some fluids, please write to me and let me know at I am going to the store for kitten formula and canned food and a dropper like Smokey used when she was little, but it does no good if the dizziness makes Smokey unable to keep it down. I will also try the vitamin C and b-12 if it can increase her appetite and make her more comfortable. I am very thankful to have found a sight like this where I can see what other people have gone through with their loved felines and that they have come out on the other side. I too was also worried about this being contagious as I have another very much loved dog and cat living in our house with Smokey. Thank you all so much for putting your stories out there. God bless you and your pets.

Posted by: Smokey's Night | April 09, 2006 at 09:24 AM

Follow-up on Jasper. Jasper was struck with Feline Vestibular Syndrome in November (I posted at that time). It was a bizarre situation, and I had no idea whether he would ever be ok.

He recovered mostly after 72 hours, and finaly after 2-3 weeks. He has not (knock on wood) had another episode.

With that said, he is still an unusual, sensitive cat. Generally laid back, he freaks out in the extreme by random things.

He's petrified by a striped jacket, a particular ball with a bell inside, and the ceiling fan. He hides bug-eyed and cowering for up to 6 hours if the jacket appears or the fan accidentally gets turned on (I removed the toy from the premises because he fled in terror whenever he saw it).

All that to say, as I theorized in November, maybe FVS strikes cats who are a little "different" neurologically to begin with. ;->

Incidentally, his littermate brother Edward is unafraid of everything, and has not (knock on wood again) had FVS.

Posted by: Susan | April 16, 2006 at 11:51 PM

Hello to all of you. It has been so very comforting to read postings today from people who obviously love their cats the way I do. My cat, Pasta, suddenly began exhibiting symptoms of FVS this morning. After googling the phrase "cat walking sideways" I made my way to this site and was surprised to read how each person is very much like me in their affection and willingness to go the distance with their cat. Pasta is 23 years old. I've had him my entire adult life, and though I have no illusions about his age, I still hope that his condition is not fatal. The vet said today it could be FVS or a stroke or a host of other things, but it is too hard to diagnose in a cat his age. I love his vet - same one since he was 6 weeks old, but today she wasn't there. Luckily, one of her partners was able to see him and took great care in looking him over. I am to give him more fluids (which I already do subcutaneously)and potassium along with his medications of prednisone and thyroid. Thanks again for all your postings. I've wanted to tell others how much I love this cat. I'll keep in touch.

Posted by: Laura | April 25, 2006 at 10:07 PM

Further to our posting on the 22nd Feb. this year from the UK.

I thought I would update you on Darcy's progress. He has long periods of time when he seems to be well. His head's slightly tilted which gives him a curious expression - you might say it's a character addition, but he also has what I call 'episodes' when he wanders backwards and forwards or around in circles. These episodes are accompanied by the typical Siamese cry which is enough to drive you potty(mad/crazy)

Jo Foreman England

Posted by: Ron Foreman | May 01, 2006 at 10:59 AM

My Jose is 13+ years old and may be having the FVS also. He was injured and shook by a dog when he was about 6 months old and I thought it was nerve damage from that. But now I think it may be FVS. I had him into the emergency vet a few days ago and she gave him fluids...$100! I rejected the blood tests, xrays, etc @$350 since a gal in the waiting room said she did all that and they still don't know what is wrong with her cat after having him there 4 nights. Jose was having the balancing problems and walking in circles,plus disoriented. That night he fell out of the rocking chair and lay sideways with straight legs and feet up. He also threw-up some. He couldn't walk or stand for 3 hours, just lay on the bed. I thought he was going to die and opted for a hospice setting in my head. BUT, just had to take him in. Meanwhile, I have been looking up possible diagnosis b4 taking him to my regular vet. They told me "I think he is just getting old" after months of bloodwork and antibiotics, vitamins and NutriCal. I was beginning to think the antibiotics were killing him!

I'm giving him fluids with an eye dropper, sugar water if he refuses to eat. Plus, making all kinds of food for him including baby food. I boiled a chicken and gave the fluids via eye dropper :) This is exhausting though!! I think he is pooped out too and is sleeping on a chair with my other cat. They rarely do that.

What is the protocal for treatment? That way I will know what to expect at the vet tomorrow.

Mahalo (thanks in Hawaiian)


Posted by: Jeanette | May 03, 2006 at 06:15 AM

I have three indoor cats named Abbie(8), Lane(5) and Tyler (3). Last Thursday, my six year old male named Lane was sitting on my table and acting different. I petted him and he stood up and wobbled. His back legs seemed to be very wobbley. I then put him down on the floor to observe him walking and he wasn't able to walk well. I immediately took him to the vet. After the vet checked his ears, looked in his eyes and watched him walk, he told me it was FVS. He gave me antibiotics and steroids for the next ten days. He told me that most cats get over FVS, which gave me hope and that it is not contagious to my other indoor cats. Lane seems to be worse today so far as walking. He still tries to jump up on the furniture and stumbles. I am going to have to lock him up in a separate room when I am not home so that he doesn't injure himself. The vet told me that Lane must have just got FVS. He stated that he may get worse before he gets better. I also noticed tonight that he has started sneezing. Is this typical for a cat with FVS? Do the major symptoms last over four days? It is so sad to see him like this. I hope and pray he gets back to normal.

Posted by: Tracie | May 07, 2006 at 08:25 PM

As a vet tech., I have seen many cases of feline vestibular syndrome over the years. For my own personal curiosity, I would like to know how many of these cats with FVS are outdoor cats that have a history of being successful hunters. I often wonder if the problem could be a viral disease spread by rodents. Coments anyone ?

Posted by: Gina Marlowe | May 19, 2006 at 10:43 PM

Thank you for this site. My cat experienced all the symptoms, tonight, that you guys are describing. I thought he had to be dying. His eyes kept darting back and forth and he kept falling down. But the strange part is that he wasn't in any other type of distress, except maybe a little scarred. I started to take him to an Emergency Vet but since he wasn't in any other distress I decided to wait and check the internet. I am sure FVS is what he has, but I will watch him carefully. I put him in a comfortable blanket in a semi dark room and he seems more calm. Thanks...

Posted by: Jack | May 23, 2006 at 12:04 AM

why didn't i google this yesterday?!?!?!

pretty sure this is what my 10 year old billy suffered from on thursday. we were charged $800 at a vet/vet hospital and they gave us NO ANSWER. what can you do in a situation like that? if i can find these symptoms and disorder online what is wrong with this vet? isn't that some sort of malpractice or extortion? $800 is more than i spend on my family (including 2 great danes and billy) on food per month. how sad how little this vet actually cares about the well being of my animal. if she did she would have made a true attempt to find out what ails him. god help me if he is fine in two weeks and i considered putting him down because i couldn't afford any more care or testing for him.

Posted by: melanie | May 27, 2006 at 08:11 PM

What a great resource! My wife came home from work this afternoon to find our 1.5 year old Azriel unable to walk very far and having trouble with his hind legs. He seemed quite disoriented with darting eyes. We rushed him to an emergency clinic since our regular vet wasn't in the office. When we arrive we find out that the power is out and that they are running on backup generators (we were having considerable thunderstorms). While we are waiting for the vet, the generators fail and the whole place goes dark. (I sincerely hope that there weren't any animals depending on the generator for life support). The vet examined Azriel, watched him stumble around, and started warning us about toxoplasmosis, leukemia and other dire diagnoses. Because of the power problems, no tests could be run, so we brought him back home and kept an eye on him. Since then, he has been getting progressively better and now, while he still can't bolt anywhere, he isn't having any trouble walking and jumping. I have to believe that there is a good chance that our Azriel has FVS. We will definitely be bringing this up to our regular vet when we bring Azriel back in. Thank you all so much for sharing your experiences. They have given my wife and I some piece of mind through all of this. I sincerely hope that all of your pets are doing well.

Posted by: Aaron | June 04, 2006 at 12:11 AM

How incredible that I can come here and read the experiences of others at this site. I would like to add the opinion of my emergency vet, and of my homeopathic vet. Yesterday evening, the kitty came running in the house, wailing and I found her thrashing on the floor. She kept turning her head to the left over and over, and was trying to grab the floor with her claws. Very scary. I didn't take the time to think, much less look up the symptoms. Straight away to the emergency vet who told me immediately that it was vestibular disease, and that it was probably caused by the ingestion of antifreeze or more likely by the ingestion of a six lined skink. The cat is an indoor outdoor cat and often gives the lizards and skinks around here a hard time. She was given fluids,

meclazine, and a blood test for antifreeze poisoning. The test ruled out the antifreeze. She was better when she got home, ate, purred and slept, but when she woke up she had another episode of thrashing, and another later. My homeopathic vet responded to my call this morning and has recommended nux vomica. I am waiting to see if that remedy helps to speed the recovery.

I thought I would post this, as nobody here has yet mentioned the skink as the culprit, nor any homeopathic treatments. To all the kitties plagued with what must be a terribly scary

illness, wishing you speedy healing!

Posted by: shoepi | June 19, 2006 at 09:44 AM


Our family has a Himalayan Persian named Blue Bell, on Sunday night she started to have trouble breathing it seemed. We thought it was an asthma attack. (She has a case of asthma her whole life) So we called my mom at work and then she gave her some steroids, she calmed down and was able to breathe but was now very dizzy and falling over and was very weak. At 1:30 am we rushed her to the on call vets office. Dr. Morris of the Georgina Veterinary Clinic checked out our beloved Blue Bell. We could not afford a cat scan or MRIs, but she said it could be a case of Vestibular Disease.

It is now Tuesday night at 7:35 pm and Blue Bell has had her antibiotics and her IV fluids. We can do these ourselves because my mom used to breed cats and do it all the time. Blue Bell’s one pupil is bigger than the other and she is still very weak and we can not get her to eat at all. But she seems to be doing fine with the liquids under the skin for now. The drugs have been helping a lot as well.

All of us here are hoping Blue Bell gets better and makes a good recovery. I wish you all the best of luck with your cats as well.

Candice Robertson

Jo-Ann Robertson

Stacey Robertson

Posted by: Candice Robertson | June 20, 2006 at 07:41 PM

What a blessing it is to find so many of you dealing with the same thing we are. It is the most devastating thing we have ever experienced with a pet

We have a 3 yr. old Ragdoll who had a nasty ear infection back in November. Two months later we experienced our first episode of Vestibular Disease. Our story is so similiar with many of you. Our regular vet was out of town and we had to take her to a different vet. $400.00 later and no answers, we brought her home. She had snapped out of the episode shortly afterwards. She has had a couple of reoccuring episodes that last about 2 hours and than subside. Meanwhile, I placed a call to our regular vet and explained our situation. He immediately diagnosed FVS. The one thing I noticed that differs from many of the stories here is our girl will have a very loose stool before the onset of the FVS - no vomiting. Sometimes it can occur within a few minutes or a day prior. We have definitely related this to the ear infection since her head tilts on that side and she falls to that same side. When her episode a week ago lasted longer, our vet placed her on Prednisolone of 2.5 mg daily. Tomorrow we are going for a consult and may need to up the dose. Our vet doesn't want her on this any longer than we have to, but she will need to be on something to keep the FVS under control. Do any of you have your feline on any type of permanent medication for the control of FVS?

Again, thank you to all of you for taking the time to share your stories. It is absolutely heart wrenching to watch our pets go through this while we feel so helpless. You have brought us much comfort.

Posted by: Deb Macauley | June 25, 2006 at 10:11 PM

My 9 year old siamese, Niki, developed these symptoms on Monday morning. I found her huddled behind the entertainment center. She had been throwing up. She could barely stand and when she did, she was clearly unbalanced. She also had the twitchy eyes. I called my vet and took her in. After an exam, he diagnosed FVD. He said they don't even prescribe meds any more for it and generally symptoms are gone in 72 hours. He only charged me $33 for an exam. (He's one of those wonderful vets who also gets up at 3 a.m. if you need him)Today, 4 days later, she is still having problems balancing but at least her eyes are back to normal and she's eating. I've been reading some things online that indicate the symptoms can persist for up to 2 weeks. I'm hoping we'll see some improvement soon. Its so sad to see our usually very athletic kitties be so clumpsy!

Posted by: Teresa | June 29, 2006 at 07:42 PM

I am in a very similar situation.

My new himalayan kitten came to me from Newfoundland a week before the symptoms started. I woke up in the morning to find him desperatly trying to make it to my bed. His head was tilted, balance was almost non existant and his eyes were doing the typewriter.

Panicked and crying I rushed him to my vet thinking he got into some poison. After about an hour I got sent home with Antibiotics and drops. I had to feed him with a syringe, and another syringe for water and another syringe for medicine.

I spent the next 24 hour pacing the floor, calling the breeder, calling her vet, calling my vet and taking care of my boy.

Well it's been 78 hours and he is doing so much better, eating on his own and plain happier. His head tilt is still there and his balance is still a little off.

It broke my heart to see my baby in that state when I was doing everything I could to keep him safe and healthy. I am patiently waiting for his head tilt to disappear and I would love to know how long it took for everyone else. Thanks for listening to my story!!!

Posted by: Crystal | July 01, 2006 at 03:14 PM

Hey there.. thank you so much for putting this entry out there. I came home today and my Calico cat had the same symptoms and we took her to the emergency vet, and they basicly did NOTHING for her except take our money. I was wondering if you could tell me how you treat Feline vestibular syndrome? since its a Holiday weekend with 4th a July, and we will have to wait a while till our reqular vet comes in.

if you could get back to me that would be great.


Posted by: Tiffany Rose | July 02, 2006 at 02:47 AM

I'm a homeopath whose patients are mostly people, but occasionally I treat dogs and cats, usually for cancer. I've had a couple of cases of vestibular syndrome recently (in dogs, but the symptoms are the same). Both of these responded beautifully to the homeopathic remedy Calcarea carbonica 30c, given once or twice a day until the problem resolved.

For those of you unfamiliar with homeopathy, be forewarned that there are other possible remedies that could be used, depending on the individual animal's symptoms. Another remedy might be indicated for your cat, but Calc-c. is a good place to start -- and it is non-toxic and won't hurt your pet.

Posted by: Dale Moss | July 03, 2006 at 09:27 AM

I am so very glad that I did not do what I intended to do yesterday, which was to put my beloved Moby to sleep. I still may have to do that, but yesterday his gentle head butts and purring, his soft meows and his energetic attempts to "give me some of his lovin'" convinced me to give him more time.

Moby has been battling some ear problems since April. At first, he was diagnosed with ear mites. Then a yeast infection in his ears. Each time, he'd get better, then relapse. But his balance problems were mild. Just a bit of a wobble here or there. Some minor lack of appetite. Nothing terrible, for the most part. Then, about 2 weeks ago, he started to really struggle to move around. He would walk around, but he'd stagger, or sway to one side, and it was clear he was tilting his head to that same side.

This past Sunday, I took him in to the vet because he could not longer move about much. He was lying down most of the time, and he was clearly unable to move without circling and falling.

He was hospitalized on Sunday and kept until Monday afternoon. $400 later, I took him home. (Is it just me, or does it seem that $400 is the going rate for getting ABSOLUTELY NOTHING IN THE WAY OF CERTAINTY OR ASSISTANCE FOR OUR PETS SOMETIMES?!?!) The vet told me that Moby might have a brain tumor and that only an MRI or CT scan could determine that. I can not afford either. Since Moby first started getting his yearly stuff done and since his ear problems began, I've spent close to $2000. That's a lot to me. I would imagine it's a lot to y'all, too.

Anyway, I was so disheartened as I watched him lie there, unable to get around, struggling to lift himself and ending up circling or falling again. It just broke my heart. I knew Moby would not want to live that way. To make matters more depressing, on Monday when I got Moby home, I noticed that suddenly he had one pupil larger than the other. I called the vet's office immediately and was told that that's why the MRI is essential because that symptom is indicative of a brain tumor possibly being the problem.

Well, that may be the case. If so, I can not financially handle the MRI and treatment. I simply can not. I'd have to put Moby to sleep.

But if there's even the tiniest of chances that Moby is suffering from MVS, I'm going to give him a chance to show me. I can clean him up as much as I need to, feed him however he requires, etc. I will do my best and give him some more time to show me what he needs.

Thank you so much for sharing your information. I can not tell you how much it has meant. To both me and Moby, regardless of what ultimately happens.

Posted by: maldajune | July 05, 2006 at 05:20 PM

A week has passed since our four year old cat Claire fell ill with FVS. It was a very scary experience where she was fine one minute and ten minutes later she couldn't walk, her head was wobbly and her eyes were darting from side to side. The sudden onset made us believe she had a stroke and we rushed her to the Emergency pet hospital.

The vet diagnosed her with possible FVS and we were sent home again with a hefty bill and a cat that couldn't walk, eat, drink or use the litter box. It was like having a baby in the house that needed constant supervision and for the first 48 hours we were really worried.

After 2-3 days we started seeing some improvement. Claire started eating but since she refused to drink, we had to mix the canned food with water since she would at least eat that and get some fluids.

The next big scare came when we on the night of the third day discovered that Claire had lost her hearing. She didn't react to any sounds; clapping our hands, whistling, opening or closing doors or calling her name. She would be sleeping and we couldn’t wake her up unless we touched her. We took her back to the vet who told us that even though deafness isn’t a typical ‘side effect’ of FVS, cats are very adaptable and loss of hearing won’t have to compromise their quality of life.

I have tried to find information on the internet about deafness and any relationship to FVS but I haven’t been able to find anything. Have anybody experienced that a cat went completely deaf from FVS? We hope it is temporarily, but as time passes and she still doesn't seem to hear anything, we are not sure it is.

A week has now passed and Claire is slowly recovering. She can walk but is still very wobbly and falls once in a while. Her hearing is still gone and we have started to think that it won’t come back.

To find this blog was great and it’s been comforting to read other cat owners' experiences with FVS.

Posted by: Victoria | July 06, 2006 at 02:51 AM

I have a question: Anyone else here have two cats get hit with FVS within the same week?

Minnie went upstairs about a week ago, and didn't come back down. I went up to check on her several hours later, and she seemed to be caught in 'mid-turn', sort of slumping over to one side. She perked up in about 48 hours, but I scheduled an appointment to see the vet tomorrow at noon.

Now, today, Peepers came lurching into the porch, all sideways (counter clockwise as viewed from the top), leaning his head to the left and walking like a drunk. I have tucked him into his bed and he seems comfortable.

I know that both cats have been torturing mice in the backyard. Minnie caught and released a chipmunk a day or two before she went all sick. Peepers caught and released a bird within the last week. I know they have both killed mice, but I think only Minnie eats them. Both cats are just over a year old. Both like coming inside but spend the bulk of their time outside.

Anyway. Strange double attack of apparently FVS on two cats in the twin cities area of minnesota. Hopefully just that, and not something more deadly.

Posted by: Rolf | July 11, 2006 at 04:05 PM

So glad we found this site! This morning, we awoke to the sound of one of our cats vomiting. After checking on which one, Francis was lying on the floor meowing incessantly, intermittantly vomiting and having bowel movements. His eyes seemed to be going crazy, back and forth. Couldn't walk, and head over to the side. Got into the vet immediately and after a thorough exam, he diagnosed FVS. He said it often comes from a bad ear infection, which Francis did not have - but it can come from eating skinks, or other unknown toxins. Francis is an indoor cat for the most part, but he sneaks outside for a few hours every night - so the toxic skinks seem plausible. The whole weather idea which some have mentioned, is very interesting, as we are in South Florida's rainy summer season - but the doc didn't mention that.

He is overnight at the clinic tonight, and after visiting him earlier this afternoon with my weepy husband, he seemed a little better - but not able to stand. If we had read this site first, we probably wouldn't have left him overnight. The doc said anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks recovery, and he may always have a slight head tilt (although that was much improved this afternoon). Funny enough, the doc's office has a cat wandering around with the same head tilt, after several years - I guess we just have to wait and see and hope for the best!

Thank you for all of your input. Would love to hear updates from some of you. We will post updates on Francis over the next few days!


Alyson and Chris

Posted by: Alyson | July 13, 2006 at 09:37 PM

Tracie regarding your question about hunting, My cat came down with the symptoms of FVD 3 days ago (hes is recovering). 3 days prior to this my cat came home all proud carrying a FERRET (ferrets kill cats BTW, apparently not mine tho) in his mouth. I live in southern ontario and I am pretty damn sure ferrets dont live in the wild here. I wonder if this Ferret had anything to do with my cat coming down with FVD.

Posted by: Mike | July 15, 2006 at 12:03 AM

I am so relieved to find this site. My cat Phantom is suffering from the same exact symptoms. One minute he was fine, eating his dinner, and the next he couldn't walk, eyes going from left to right...I was so worried he had head trama or was poisoned.

It's been a couple of days already and he is improving. I am just glad that I found out what may be causing it. This disorder is definately a scary thing to go through with your kitty!!!

Posted by: Diane | July 17, 2006 at 02:50 PM

My furbaby is Bruno, a part Siamese and black American short hair mix. He is a sweetheart and the most friendly cat ever.

Like everyone else who posted on this site I am relieved to have read others with the same situation. This is our story:

Sunday morning I woke up and heard Bruno vomiting in his room..really bad too. So I looked in on him and had him hang out in his room until he seemed better, thought it was hairball related since he suffers from those too. Then he seemed to have finished an hour later but he got up what I thought were hair balls (large chunks with his food) and some clear yellow fluid, looked like bile or something which he has vomited up before to get a grass out of his stomach. I filled his water bowl with fresh water and filled up his food bowl with fresh food..then my family and I went to the beach and then for dinner...We came home Sunday night to find my cat upstairs in the hottest room (we smelled poop when we put our daughter to bed and went to look for it and him). We found him under the bed and in the closet was poop and massive amounts of vomit - the bile though. We brought him downstairs and he was so skinny and lethargic, dry nose and so we went to the emergency animal hospital.

They said that there are different things that could be wrong with him. They felt something in his stomach, like his intestines were tight, or like he had something lodged in his GI tract, and wanted to perform surgery ($3000!! so we asked for alternatives so we don't go and spend the 3 grand and find out it is gastritis or something else...) They gave him a pepcid antacid shot and a SubQ to keep him hydrated. They asked us to keep him in his room with no food or water and to check on him the next day...which we did, and he seemed to have the same lethargic state and wanted nothing to do with his food or water (which they said we could try in the morning).

So yesterday he looked bad, then I went to work leaving my husband with the cat. My husband knew I was concerned about Bruno, and called me every few hours to give me updates...then the last call was to tell me that the cat had new symptoms that were bizarre. He started leaning to one side, falling over whenever he tried to get up, didn't want to eat or drink, and that his eyes were going nutty, a constant side to side motion, very weird...something neurological going on. So we called our vet and took him in late last night.

Our vet (who was his first vet prior to our adopting him) said that she was 90% sure he has some kind of bug in his body that is attacking his nervous system giving him FVS, this was confirmed by the veteran veterinarian on staff. It is not common but does happen to cats that go out (he has been sneaking out of the house while the door's open) in the Summer, this bug travels into their nose then makes its way into the inner ear canal and starts hibernating, which causes fluid build upthat causes the cat to get vertigo and lethargy. His vomiting was occurring because he was dizzy with the vertigo and he had it bad. So they had us leave him in their care over night and for possibly up to 3 days to give him the shots of the SubQ and to see if he will eat or change disposition....the vet called me this afternoon to confirm that Bruno is still doing ok, and that he is a sweet and happy cat, just out of it with the FVS and want to keep him tonight for more observation and to see if he will eat anything.

I am so sad and I am freaking out. We have only had him for a short time, 2004, my husband gave him to me as a birthday gift. We went down to the adoption place and I picked him out cause he just looked like he needed to be little furry guy!! Hope you get better soon Bru!!

Posted by: Valeria H | July 18, 2006 at 01:17 PM

just an update, that Bruno came home last night from the hospital..and he looks 80% better! His head is still cocked to the side, and his is still uneasy with his balance..but he is walking around, meowing, eating...

THANK GOD I FOUND THIS SITE@!! I would have been obsessing over it for days.

Posted by: Valeria H | July 21, 2006 at 12:55 PM

Minnie and Peepers are much better. Pretty much 100%.

Minnie recovered much faster, within 2 days. Peepers took a week. He walked around tilted for quite a while. Fell down whenever he shook his head. Poor guy.

I'm pretty convinced it's hunting related. Peepers wanted back out while he was still quite dizzy, and I didn't deny him. He was bringing mice back in no time -- he was still cocking his head to the side and already getting mice again.

My vet put both cats on Baytril, which is, to my understanding, a 2nd tier sort of antibiotic. It appeared to help both of them. Especially Minnie, who we adopted while she had a head cold, and hasn't really gone away. The antibiotic helped it, making me hope that perhaps her persistent sneezing isn't cat herpes.

But I did read something about human vestibular syndromes being caused in some cases by a herpes-like disease vector, sort of like chicken pox. This sort of cemented my current hypothesis:

Mice, chipmunks, etc (maybe birds?) have a cat-compatible herpes-like virus that will spread to cats (not humans) and affect them like the chicken pox. They will be way under the weather for a few days to a few weeks, then better. My hope for my hypothesis is that exposed cats will be like humans who have been exposed to chicken pox: They get sick once, and that is it. Future exposure to these disease-ridden varmints they like to hunt and kill will have little to no effect on them.

Any takers? I'm certainly with the vet tech who posted a hypothesis along these lines months ago. My successful hunters both came down with the same thing while munching on the same rodents. During the summer. When the mice and chippies are out. Seems pretty straight-forward, but I wouldn't mind if someone did a study. I have at least a mouse corpse a day I can donate for testing. :)

Posted by: Rolf | July 23, 2006 at 08:00 AM

Hi, Just want to let you know that my cat appeared to be walking off balance, holding or tilting his head to one side, etc. All he needed was antibiotics which cured his inner ear infection after the 24 hr. emergency place scared us w/ their recommendation of needing to drill a hole in the ear bone to drain the fluid inside. Did you ever hear of such a thing? They spoke about some type of vestibular problem, too. They were soo wrong! Besides, I'd never put my cat through that. IF anyone needs to know the name of the antibiotics that helped cure him of this problem, then contact me via email and write 'VESTIBULAR ADVICE' in the heading and I will open that mail. I think it was called cefin but I'd have to look it up to be sure. What they were saying we'd have to do didn't make any sense!! Just keep getting other opinions and don't do the first thing that's mentioned from these 24 hour emergency places. Good luck to you all! Anyone know if there is some type of treatment for LYMPHOMA CANCER for CATS? Katie is about 13 yrs and was just diagnosed with this. WE are so upset. PlEASE EMAIL me at IF YOU HAVE ADVICE OR AN EXPERIENCE TO SHARE. Thank you! That cat besides the first post here is adorable! A Cutie!

Posted by: withheld | July 26, 2006 at 11:22 PM

Alright, so I am posting a follow up.

My Himmi Baby Gizmo is doing beautifully. His head tilt is slight although still there and he has had no recurring episodes (Knock on Wood).

Now just a bid of ADVICE for those who come on here just like I did when he first was showing symptoms. I am not a vet (although I will be in 3-4 yrs) and am merely trying to allow you to be informed before a vet tries to take you for a ride. Not that all vets will, but some might.

1. First and Foremost make your vet put your cat on Antibiotics. It is more then likely an inner ear infection which your vet can not see unless he/she puts your cat to sleep and checks. If it is not an infection and you can't afford the tests to find that out, better be safe then sorry.

2. Amoxicillen does not work for inner ear infections. I learned this after going for three different vet opinions and dealing with Vet Research Facilities. Chlorpalm (sp?) oral antibiotics accompanied by Batryl ear drops worked for me and for many breeders I spoke to in regards to this problem.

3. Feed your baby Prescription canned food (get a vet) within the first 3 days and up until he/she is eating on his/her own. The cat/kitten can't get better if he/she is not eating. You may have to feed him/her with a syringe.

4. Ask your vet about anti-nausea for cats. Some human products can be givin to your cat but definetly ask you vet before you do this.

5. Clean the debris that is coming out of the ear but DO NOT push it back in. It could be brown, yellow or just look like wax. Use a dry fresh cloth NOT cotton swabs and do not wet the cloth. You do not want to get moisture in the ear.

6. Last but not least crate your animal while you are not around. He/she is afraid and is trying very hard to get back to normal. He/She'll still try to jump up and may fall. An injury could very easily occur.

It's been almost a month since Gizmo had his inner ear infection and little by little he recovered. As for the head tilt which is the last thing to go (if it goes at all) don't worry too much about it unless there is still balance issues or he/she is scratching his/her ears. Honestly, you could wake up one morning and find it gone. Or else your baby could have a little added character forever. It's still a waiting game for me but at least I know Giz is fine and healthy...and most importantly happy.

Posted by: Crystal | July 27, 2006 at 05:21 AM

I'm so glad to have found this site. Thankyou all for sharing your experiences.

This past week I noticed that our 8 year old boy was sniffling and sneezing. That stopped about two days ago, then he began tilting his head to one side and cocking one ear as if in pain. Hmmm maybe an ear infection brought on by his cold/congestion?

He's been very quiet, wobbly, falling over when he tries to make a U turn.... Not eating his favourite foods or drinking anything, but wanting to...definitly not himself.

Last night I began my net search and learned that dogs and cats usually paw at their ears if they are in pain and he wasn't doing any of that. When I held his head to take a closer look at his ears, I saw that his eyes were darting from left to right in a really weird way. I thought Ok this is serious. I hopped on the net and found this site, thank goodness!

Understood the problem and now trying to ride it out. We kept him in last night, tried to give him water by syringe, which he wasn't too thrilled about.

Today he seems a little brighter, still very quiet and now tilting his head to the other side. He's still very unsure of himself.

I will do as someone suggested and and mix water with his canned food, as well as force the water into him bit by bit, so he doesn't get dehydrated. If there's no obvious improvement at the end of the day, its off to the Vet.

Posted by: Heidi Ludwig | July 27, 2006 at 11:50 AM

Just want to update on Francis...he is soooo much better!! When we picked him up from the vet the next day, he was already about 75% better, the head tilt was gone, and the crazy eyes were gone as well. His back end seemed as if he couldn't get it to move correctly with the front. He would try to jump and not quite make it.

Now, 2 weeks later, I would say he's back to about 98% of his old self, every once in a while losing his balance - but what a difference from that first day!!

Good luck to all you kitties in their recovery!

Posted by: Alyson | July 28, 2006 at 10:11 AM

Well, this is an amazingly informative web page on this subject, I must say! Thank you all for your detailed communications...

My beloved 16-yr-old DMH brown tabby Peeve has had her share of health problems. First she went blind about five years ago (more on that below). Then about three years ago she was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and has been successfully treated with methimazole so that she maintains weight and eats normally. Then last November I took her in because she was peeing on the bedding instead of using her box, and I'd heard this could be due to high blood pressure, which was exactly right, so the wonderful vet (who has since left the hospital and moved back east) put her on enalapril which has helped with the hypertension, although at first she had a terrible reaction to the combination of the two meds and wouldn't eat for days and had to be hospitalized... but the doctor did research and worked out a complicated but effective dosage schedule...

But less than a month after that episode (I thought she was bound to die) she had her first attack of FVS, the symptoms exactly as you describe. I took her to an overnight emergency vet hospital in a panic that December night, and she got better overnight: almost all staggering and leaning had vanished and she was normal. Well, of course, the emergency vet didn't diagnose her with FVS (I was afraid it was a stroke, he thought it was an ear infection), but my regular vet DID, and told me that it was basically untreatable, except to give valium when an attack occurs (so I got a bottle of 5mg valium to cut in quarter tablets to give her if needed). The doctor said she would probably have a repeat attack of this syndrome at some point, and if or when it did occur we would just have to ride it out...

Well, that was eight months ago, and last night, while Peeve was sitting on my lap contentedly resting and I was on the computer, she started in with the cockeyed leg extensions and flailing and I knew it was another FVS attack. It happened quickly, about ten or twenty minutes after I put her up on my lap, within a space of three or four minutes it came on. Even though I knew what it was this time, it still freaks me out to watch helplessly while my lovin' baby flails and whimpers and cries. That started at 10:00 last night and this time it didn't go away overnight, she is still affected, though it seems to come in waves. Sometimes she is able to stagger drunkenly around the room, cleaving to the wall so she doesn't topple, and find her way to the litterbox and food and water, and sometimes I have to carry her. She has been drinking a lot of water and eating a lot of food since this happened, though I noticed she hardly ate anything all day before it happened and it turned out she was constipated for some reason (she strained hard at the box to produce one small rockhard turd). Well, I had some meds to give her for the constipation so I have given her some of that today and she is pooping normally now. Also giving the valium every few hours. Last night was hell, neither one of us slept all night till about seven a.m., and the worst part was when she ate some dry food and water on her own before then, and I was so wiped out I was collapsed in bed and didn't follow her to the food and litterbox to help her, and when I went in to check on her she had vomited all the dry food up into the litterbox and then fallen over in the litter and rolled around in the puke because she couldn't stand up straight, poor thing, that was a mess to try and clean her up and upset her more by holding her face and legs under the faucet because I couldn't just leave her with puke and clay litter stuck all over her fur. Since then I have just been giving her wet food which she gobbles up and holds down (so glad she is eating and drinking like a healthy cat). Now she is resting most of the time, but still wakes up and cries desperately, it's been about 24 hours since the onset of symptoms and I hate to think it'll be another 48 till she's able to get around on her own (like I said, the first attack last December only lasted about 12 hours but that was when she was in the hospital so maybe they gave her something?). I am waiting and trying not to get too stressed to the point where I take her in to emergency again and waste another few hundred dollars...

Thanks for the suggestion of Calcarea carbonica, I am going to go buy some of that tomorrow for sure, and keep on with the valium till symptoms are manageable.

ONE OTHER THING: Baytril is the antibiotic Peeve was prescribed on a number of occasions years ago (for a chronic sinus ailment that still plagues her occasionally), and it had the terrible side effect of permanently blinding her. By the time I realized she was losing her sight back then, the damage was permanent, and a vet did some research and found a study which implicated Baytril or enrofloxacin as a cause of retinal degeneration in cats in rare cases. Please be aware of this if your cat is ever prescribed this med. Here is a link to one of the studies (if you google 'baytril enrofloxacin retinal degeneration' you will pull up some info):

Thanks for all your help, people, may our kitties be well...

Posted by: Ferrara | August 10, 2006 at 01:08 AM

P.S. I cannot resist sharing a photo of my beautiful Peeve: she is the one on the left, the black male on the right is Hassan, my dearest friend who died 3+1/2 years ago...

Posted by: Ferrara | August 10, 2006 at 01:24 AM

One last detail... I don't recall what the weather was like here in San Francisco when Peeve had her first attack of FVS last December (probably it was cold or getting cold at that time of year), but yesterday was the arrival of a very hot heat wave and that was the night she got sick again (although we had a few similarly blazing hot days two weeks ago and she didn't get sick then)... maybe this thing is weather related...

I know it is not due to catching wild animals because Peeve has been an indoor cat for almost ten years now... and darting eyes is not one of her symptoms, though that may be related to the fact that both pupils are always dilated, owing to her blindness...

Posted by: Ferrara | August 10, 2006 at 02:47 AM

It's been two weeks since Smokie's attack of FVS. Yesterday was the first day that he actually ate his usual amount of canned food. Still not eating his dry food tho'.Poor guy has lost so much weight during the past couple of weeks. But I'd say he's 90% back to being his normal self. From what I've read I spose this head tilt is going to stay...ah well. His right eye seems a bit lazy still(3rd eye, remnants of Horner's) Let's see if that clears up with time.

Sigh of relief...I'm so glad it's finally over.

Posted by: Heidi Ludwig | August 10, 2006 at 02:09 PM

I don't know much about cats; however, I have a vestibular disorder that is very similar to what you all are describing as FVS. During thunderstorms--when the pressure drops abruptly--my head feels like is being violently pulled in several directions. I don't experience the nystagmus (eye-movement) that I know of. However, there is a lot of pain, fullness, and ringing in my ears. Also, my balance and ability to walk is greatly affected. These symptoms are chronic and constantly occurring--although at lower levels. During storms, the pain and symptoms intensify. I believe that this FVS is the same as the vestibular disorders in humans. They are usually not related to tumors or to some virus that runs its course. Some scientists believe that these disorders can be triggered by viruses; however, once the vestibular system has been affected by the virus, the damage has already been done. Now that the inner-ear nerve has been damaged, balance is adversely affected. This causes conflicts in perceptions of balance and orientation. These mixed signals result in nausea, disequilibrium, nystagmus, etc. I hope everyone's "babies" get better and a cure or prevention for these debilitating disorders is discovered.

Posted by: Trey | August 10, 2006 at 06:13 PM

I have been serching the web for more info on this condition.

My 13 year old cat has been displaying all the sypmtons for the last ten days following a middle ear infection. But there is one thing which does concern me and that is that he seems to have overnight lost his eyesight. Initially his symptoms were as described but overnight and I literally mean overnight, his sight has gone. While the left eye remains closed, the right pupil remains dilated. Has any one else's cat experienced this? I am shattered and just wonder whether he will fully recover.

Posted by: Heidi | August 15, 2006 at 02:41 PM

Last night my cat Georgio, 18 year old siamese, in fairly good health, was being covered in blankets by my children. I was alarmed and I told them to let him go. He walked over to the kitchen in perfect condition to eat and immediately fell to the floor and starting circling to the right, head titled to the far right, extremely wobbly, and could hardly stand up. Of course, my first reaction was the kids may have hurt him and he had a sprang or broken arm.

I immediately ran him over to the vet emergency only to be told this morning ($1,200 later!!) they didn't have a clear diagnosis and it may be stroke.

I called my vet, to tell her what had happened and immediately without seeing Georgio she thought it may be FVS and gave me a perscription. I'm on day one with him after last night, and I show no signs of improvement and needless to say concerned!!! All other postings indicate signs of eyes shifting or darting and I haven't seen any symptoms of that. He definitely has the clear symptoms of all other postings, head tilted to the far right, and can't stand up. If anyone has had a similar case, please let me know. Concerned Mom not ready to say goodbye just yet.....

Posted by: Claudia | August 17, 2006 at 07:30 PM

If anyone has responded to my posting, I apologize the e-mail address was not complete.

Georgio is showing slight signs of improvement head now moving to the left.

Thank you Ferrara for getting back to me, I am so relieved there is hope.

Posted by: Claudia | August 18, 2006 at 04:59 PM

Day 3 - almost 72 hours. Georgio is showing more signs of improvement, as I said he had no symptoms of eye shifting. So for anyone who experiences FVS do not rule it out because of the eyes.

His case I consider quite severe, and that may because I have never seen it before and he has never really been sick. He still can't walk, however his head now looks to the far left, which is a huge improvement from 2 days ago. He can somewhat stand with assistance, leaning on the sofa to eat is what works for him.

I too was concerned about him eating and he was not interested in cat what else to give a cat but good old tuna. While I don't recommend this as I imagine it has no nutritional value, it does have some calories and he loves it, and him being 18 years old I can't take any chances with him not eating. So worst case scenario if you can't get your cat to eat, you can try tuna.

Hope my posting helps someone who is unsure about FVS, I definitely have a good feeling it is FVS and not a stroke and am now more than hopeful he is going to pull through this.

Posted by: Claudia | August 19, 2006 at 12:17 PM

Day 5 - and Georgio is now walking!! Yahoo...although still quite dizzy and using walls to keep his balance, this is a huge improvement.

Thank you Jackie for this wonderful site, just knowing I'm not alone in this FVS nightmare has helped me get through these 5 days.

Posted by: Claudia | August 21, 2006 at 03:38 PM

Just came across this valuable site and have been reading till I'm cross-eyed....

My cat, Slick, who's a 5 yr. old fixed male, started having these "spells" as we call them in January 2006. Same symptoms as most of you are experiencing with your kitties...head tilt to the left, eyes moving back and forth, unsteady walk and sometimes falling down always toward the left side, unable to jump, etc. I took him to our regular vet in Feb. after the first two spells for a check-up and she prescribed a 10 day liquid antibiotic and gave him a steriod shot. He was fine for almost 3 weeks after this treatment and then started having them again. He had one more in Feb., two in March, and strangely, none in April, and two more severe ones in May so back to the vet we went. Just the 10 day dose of antibiotic was given to me to try by itself to see how it worked w/o the steriod shot. He continued having spells, one in June and then had SIX episodes in July so back to the vet July 31 for a blood test to check for diabetes, liver function, etc. The results were o.k. so back in we go for just the steriod shot but a longer acting version. This was on Aug.1 and by Aug. 16 and Aug. 17 he was back to having these spells. The vet said that she was glad to see that the steriod shot had lasted those two weeks but obviously I couldn't taken him in every 2 weeks for an injection so she prescribed a liquid steriod (Prednisone/0.5ML once a day for 30 days) that the local "people" pharmacy filled. Started this yesterday, just mix it w/ his morning canned cat food and he gobbles it right up. He is an indoor/outdoor cat and does love to hunt but as this started in Jan. when we have 3 feet of snow on the ground till March so that doesn't seem to have a connection. Since Jan. I have kept a journal and he has had 16 episodes that I have witnessed and probably some I haven't...some last an hour or so and some for half the day. No ear infection has ever been seen and he eats and drinks normally but I have noticed he sleeps more that before this malady began. Good luck to all you kitty lovers....I hope they figure out a cure.

Posted by: Robin | August 23, 2006 at 12:47 PM

My cat, Meme, had an episode with this feline vestibular disorder this afternoon. She's 9 years old and she is the cutest kitten ever (she will always be a kitten in my eyes!). I am amazed how pets grow on people and how they really are part of the family. It was heart wrenching to leave my cat and my $320 at the kitty hospital.It was horrible to not know what was going on with her and to see her in such distress. It looked as if she had been drinking and gone on an amusent park ride. I hope that my cat gets better as well as all other cats who go through the same thing. Shouldn't there be a support group for people like us?

Posted by: nadia kalavazoff | August 28, 2006 at 12:26 AM

Well, I guess I've joined the club :( I have three cats and a dog, all outside only because of my landlady. Lexi is 6 now and Smoky and Storm (sisters, same litter) are 13mths old. Smoky went missing for two days last Sunday and came literally stumbling into the yard late Tuesday night, head more flopped completely over rather than the tilt she has now, pupils flicking madly. I waited until Wednesday morning to take her to the vet and she was diagnosed but with what he called tri vestibular syndrome. I know tri means three but I don't know how it's part of this ( what the tri part of vestibular syndrome is about or referring to). Does anybody on here know? Also, it worries me if the susceptability to this can be genetic. I know it's not contageous but if one sibling from the same litter has it, does anyone know if it affects the likelihood of the other sibling also being susceptable as well or is this more a pure "chance" disease? Can anyone respond back please? I'm worried for her sister, Storm.

Posted by: Jeannie Davis | August 31, 2006 at 01:11 PM

I have a 2 year old indoor out door cat hes a big old boy loves to kill everything I was in the garage working on the truck the other day and have a antifreeze spill thought I had it all cleaned up so I left the truck. The next day I went out to finish and saw ralfie in the garage I told him to get and he did then I climbed up on the truck to finish my work and thats when I saw the antifreeze sitting pooled up on the plow frame so I cleaned it up. I went into the house about 10 min later to get a drink and found ralfie eyes darting going in circles and just really confused so my wife called the vet and we took him in . The vet says nope its not poison its fvd from a ear infection hes doing better but hes still in a box it helps to have it dark and quiet with not a lot of room to move I think. At least he is doing better man I thought I killed my kids cat with my forgetfullness good luck and if you have a pet spend the money and get pet safe antifreeze

Posted by: Todd | September 10, 2006 at 09:18 AM

Hi There, my 5 month old kittin is displaying all of these symptoms as well, however she is having a bit of trouble eating at times. She tried to bend down to eat yesterday and wound up doing a front flip, which was sad to watch. Also, she has trouble in the litter box, since she likes to try and bury, she winds up falling in the litter box and has trouble getting out. This has been on for almost a week now, and came just 3 days after her vaccine. I had thought maybe the vet had struck a nerve with the needle, but am feeling more relieved after seeing this site. I have some valium from the vet, has anyone used these as a pain reliever for their cat? Also, if anyone has any ideas to help with the feeding I would love it. Thanks in advance for your help!

Posted by: Jeff Cowie | September 11, 2006 at 01:39 PM

About the Batryl like I mentioned in an above post.

Batryl by injection - BAD for cats

Batryl orally- Still contraversial and could be potentially harmful for felines.

Batryl drops in ears do not usually cause any side effects.

Posted by: Crystal | September 12, 2006 at 01:19 AM

Just wanted to add my comments and thanks for this site, otheriwise wouldn't know what we're dealing with or what to expect. We found our cat Cougar last Thurs morning under a bush meowing. He's an indoor/outdoor cat but usually he comes to the door to come in as soon as he knows someone is up. He sits on the porch rail and looks in the window! Anyway, obviously things seemed out of the ordinary for him. We noticed he wouldn't come to us (just crouched in the grass) and that his head was wobbeling if he tried to turn his head, later we noticed the rapid eye movement. Alarmed we thought he'd been poisoned or hit (as most of you did). Took him to the vet and she mentioned possible ear infection or an Idiopathological disorder (which of course didn't tell me anything). She checked him out, no sign of injury to his body or head. Said we can run blood tests and even MRI etc...but lets take the conservative route and treat him and give him a couple of days.

They gave him a shot for nausea and IV fluids, and provided me with some high protein canned cat food, and told me to pick up some nausea medicine (forgot the name). Since he wouldn't eat or drink, I would mix a little of the food with water and try to feed it to him with a spoon...he gradually began to eat more each time I offered to him (about every 3-4 hrs), but still was not drinking. That afternoon I googled "dizzy kitty" and found this site. It was comforting to have a better understanding of what we were dealing with. I took him back the next day for more fluids. By then he was trying to walk and move around more...but very wobbley, head tilt etc. By the third day he was eating from his bowl (we stopped the nausea med). Since he was an outdoor cat our biggest problem was trying to get him to use a liter box! He would walk around and stand at the door and just meow and carry on....I'd take him to the liter box and he'd just walk away. We tried taking him outside and he still wouldn't go. FINALLY after 3 days he went in the liter box! He continues to get a little better, the hardest thing for him (and us!) is not being able to go outside....feel so sorry for him. But I'm afraid for his safety since he can't move as fast as he used to or defend himself from other animals. I am so thankful for this site. Thanks for sharing your stories. Wish all our cats would get better!!

Posted by: Peggy | September 13, 2006 at 01:05 PM

My cat either has FVS or an inner ear infection. She has all thee symptoms mentioned: eyes wobbling, can't walk w/o falling over. Her vet has put her on an antibiotic and an ear mite med. She doesn't seem hungry nor will she eat. I'm worried about dyhydration. Any suggestions?

Posted by: Nan C. | September 14, 2006 at 10:41 PM

As for dehydration and not eating. Go to your Vet and buy canned A/D or another kind of prescription diet. It is a wet food that can easily be put into syringes and force fed to your cat. Same with water. Get the syringes are your Vet also.

Hope this helps,


Posted by: Crystal | September 18, 2006 at 05:56 AM

Thanks for all of the information here - it might just help explain what is happening to our youngest cat, Mickey (27 months).

Last summertime, he went through a spell during which his back legs would seem to be weak and he'd have balance problems. He was otherwise fine, with no obvious discomfort, eye-rolling or appetite loss. He made a recovery, though I can't really say whether it was complete as he always seemed a bit wobbly - but not to the extent that he had before.

A few weeks ago, his back-legs started to get very wobbly and 'drunk'-like. Again, no other symptoms to speak of - he's eating and quite bright and affectionate. However, he's not moving properly and I wonder whether it could be FVD in his case.

Many of the descriptions sound so familiar, but in Mickey's case he has had it for at least three weeks. It wasn't a sudden thing - it seemed to be more of a gradual problem which prompted us to take him to our local vet a week ago. She advised that there was clearly something wrong, but that he appeared to be otherwise healthy and prescribed a course of mild steroid tablets which have so far made little difference.

We're both worried, naturally, though I do hope it is something like FVD as it should clear up. What I would like to know is whether lingering cases exist (i.e. over four weeks), or whether this could be a sign of something else...

All help appreciated,

John & Tahra

Posted by: John & Tahra | September 18, 2006 at 08:37 AM

Well my cat will now eat her favorite food and I mix it with water so she gets that down. She constantly hides and moves from one place to another. She doesn't want to use her litter box either. Should I keep her in her litter carrier until she gets well---which could be up to three weeks? It seem cruel but I'll do it if it seems the best way to manage this disorder. With the course of this disease lasting so long, it's hard to believe that she'll ever get well. Are there exercises I should put her throug? Should I just leave her alone?

Posted by: Nan C | September 18, 2006 at 12:54 PM

Hi Tahra and John,

My Himmi still has some issues with balance and coordination. His head tilt is still there and eye movements when he is stress.

Your case however doesn't appear to be FVD. To me it sounds like a problem in the Cerebellum. I am not a Vet, I just have a lot of experience with cats and kittens.

Do not get alarmed at the mention of the word Cerebellum. A cat I had about 5 years ago had this problem and steriods did the trick. There was never a reoccurance.

Lots of Prayers and Love,


Posted by: Crystal | September 22, 2006 at 11:58 AM

Smokie is completly back to normal and has been for sometime now. No residual effects of FVS at all.

Posted by: Heidi Luwig | September 26, 2006 at 10:51 AM

Does this come on really suddenly? It seems like it from all these posts. We thought our cat had a stroke (she is 15 1/2) but now I think maybe it was this. It has been 3 mons since it happened, and she is okay, but the head tilt is still present and the back legs have not totally come back. She can't jump up like she used to.

Why didn't my vet know about this? He said stroke or a reaction to her shots.

Posted by: Mary | September 27, 2006 at 04:32 PM

"Why didn't my vet know about this? He said stroke or a reaction to her shots."

Annoying, isn't it? My cat spent a night in the emergency room the first time this happened and even with the $400+ bill, all the doctor could say was he thought it was an ear infection and he never mentioned the words "feline vestibular syndrome" which were the first thing out of my regular vet's mouth when I phoned her the next day. No MD or vet can be expected to know about and diagnose any and every rare ailment that befalls their patients, but when there is something as well documented as FVS (which even though they can't pinpoint its causes or offer a cure, it helps to know what it is), then I agree, they should be able to identify it when it occurs...

Posted by: Ferrara | September 28, 2006 at 10:36 AM

Just fell onto this forum. Same time last year my then seven month old singapura kitten begun nystagmus (abnormal eye move- ment), head tilt and sway. He did not have any issues with his balance or coordination or appitite. Remained very playful and active. Since I have Meniere's syndrome I felt he might have idiopathic vestibular disorder, brought him to the vet for evaul, and she concluded that was the most likely dx. These episodes lasted for aprox three monthes then resolved completely. Now nine monthes later I've noticed a resurgence of his head tilt and sway (without nystagmus). He remains still very playful (naughty to be exact!). Does anyone have experience with a kitty with seasonal vertigo? He's due for his yearly vaccinatons and I'm wondering if I should postpone them for a few monthes until the vertigo resolves. I'm trying very hard to remain calm and not panic.


Beth Mom of Sammy the singapura

Posted by: Beth | September 29, 2006 at 03:22 PM

When I got up this morning my 3 month old kitten was really wobbly and I got really scared that I would have to put him down as I have not money for a vet. I then decided to Google the symptoms. Now I'm waiting since I read that this is probably feline vestibular syndrome. However, I have seen the question posed, but haven't found the answer - is it contagious? I have 4 other cats and 2 dogs in the house. Is there any "prevention" for it?

Someone PLEASE email me and let me know. "ritaperdue at yahoo."

Thanks so much.


Posted by: Rita | October 01, 2006 at 10:37 AM

My 16-year old cat seems to be suffering from geriatric feline vestibular disorder. We took her to the vet today, even though we had found info online last night that confirmed our suspicion. She is such a tiny thing (< 5 lbs) but she is eating and drinking OK. I'm hoping she clears in 3-4 days; I'll do a post and let everyone know how she's doing.

Posted by: Elaine | October 02, 2006 at 06:02 PM

My Peeve is a 16-year-old FVS sufferer, too... tiny and frail. She is a survivor though, being blind and on medication for hypertension and hyperthyroidism... she manages quite well...

Posted by: Ferrara | October 03, 2006 at 11:05 AM

This site has helped our cat so much. Our 20 year old Siamese was hit three days ago with FVS. We were holding him in a death vigil thinking he was having a stroke.

We called our vet and he knew exactly from the symptons what was wrong. After reading all of the posts on this site, we gathered enough information about how to treat him. It saved us further vet costs because we could feed and hydrate him ourselves.

With such severe symptons such as being unable to walk and function anymore, we were uncertain of his recovery time.

Yet within three days, he's walking around the house (leaning to the left) with a normal pace.

Two days ago we would have never thought he would look so good. The post that helped the most was feeding him tuna with a little water. It worked wonders!

Our best wishes to all of you going through this.

Posted by: Laura | October 04, 2006 at 12:59 PM

Last night I found this site and can't tell you all how grateful I am! My beloved 17 year old cat, George, has CRF. He is on Enalapril and regular fluids, and often has low appetite so I often have to give him cyproheptatide as an appetite stimulant. Although he sometimes feels lethargic and he has lost weight as this is a wasting disease, mostly he does great and is still living a happy, full life.

Yesterday out of the blue I saw him standing over by the window sill like he was about to jump up to one of his favorite sunshine spots - he looked like he was looking at me over his shoulder, but then I noticed he looked wobbly and that his head was unsteady. I then saw the rapid back/forth eye movement & my heart dropped down to my feet!

It is so hard to know that my baby is in the last stages of his life because of the CRF, and I strongly do NOT want him to spend the last hours of his life at an emergency clinic being poked, prodded and totally stressed. So my first thought was - is this it?? If it is, and as long as he is in no pain, I want him to be able to pass peacefully at home in my arms being petted and loved up to his last breath. BUT...if it is NOT "Time", and he is experiencing something that is causing him pain or that can be fixed with medication, I definitely want to get him to the vet for the help.

Anyway, this episode of course happened at 6:30 p.m. and my regular vet was closed. So I held George in my lap while I called the emergency clinic to try and find out what could be happening. They said it could be low blood sugar, vestibular syndrome, or a host of other things, that I had to bring him in so they could do tests & examine him. And thus the quandry. He gets so stressed going to the vet. So I decided to make a quick search of the web & see if I could find anything to help me while I petted & soothed George while I was panicking inside. By the way, I seemed to be the only one freaking out - he was snuggling on my lap & purring during this!!!

Thankfully, I found this site and the relief and comfort it gave me is priceless. In case it was low blood sugar, I decided to feed him some chicken (his favorite thing) which he ate without hesitation. Later he drank water and ate some wet prescription food (K/D). He purred on my lap & slept alot. I watched over him for hours. I decided to not take him to the emergency room and hope for the best.

Well, when I got up this morning, he was up out of his bed, almost normal walking, very very subtle eye movement - hallelujah!!! He didn't eat breakfast though...I will call my regular vet at 9:00 when they open and see what he says, but I am so thankful to have made the right call by keeping him happy & purring at home instead of the stress & upset taking him to the emergency clinic would have caused (not to mention the futility & extra $$$ I totally don't have to spare).

Other notes - he had just had blood work done twice in the last few weeks, so I knew things were *normal* there (except for his CRF condition). And about maybe 6 months ago, he had an episode where he seemed somehow off balance when he would look back over his shoulder at me when walking or when doing a u-turn. (No darting eye movement though). I took him to the vet then and he listed a number of things starting with Brain Tumor that scared the bejeezus out of me. But that there was nothing to be done, no way to test for what it was. And it went away after several days. So that history also made me wary of taking him to the emergency clinic, I had very low confidence it would be of any help.

Thank you all again, I really, really appreciated being able to read all your experiences and answers - and I read them all!! I will post back after I talk with our vet.

Best wishes to all!

Posted by: Colleen | October 05, 2006 at 08:24 AM


All the comments are interesting but I have not found any posting about a cat that continues to show symptoms of the syndrom weeks after it happened. My cat developed the syndrome about 7 weeks ago at the vet clinic. I had taken him to get a shave, as I usually do in the summer. I've been doing this for several years and the cat has always been fine (he's 7 yrs old). This time a new vet at the clinic who was shaving my cat used an anaesthetic (previously pills were used to put him to sleep). The regular vet hinted that it was the anaesthetic that caused the syndrome to appear. I went through the ritual as all the people have on this site -- keeping the cat in a padded area for 2 weeks to prevent falls, etc. After about 3 weeks the cat's symptoms disappeared 90%. Now, he loses his balance a few times a day, his head tilted to one side. He developed a urinary tract infection during his recovery and was given antibiotics which caused him to vomit. He now eats and drinks very little, I have tried all brands of cat food with no luck. He doesn't like the smell of food. And once in a while when he smells his food bowl he loses his balance.

I don't know what to do. Should I get a second opinion to see if there is something more drastic than vestibular syndrome going on, even though the vet said that it's what my cat has and that it can last a lifetime. Has anyone had this experience and did you find a solution? Please help.

Posted by: Oksana | October 06, 2006 at 03:05 AM

I WOULD get a second opinion if I were you (and you can afford it, maybe expensive tests like a brain scan would be recommended)... it does sound like the anaesthetic may have caused an unusual or rare side effect or triggered a latent preexisting condition... With my cat Peeve, she became blind due to retinal degeneration because of repeated treatment with a routine antibiotic... and she became severely life-threateningly anemic and wouldn't eat once due to a sudden onset of symptoms after ONE DOSE of a vasodilator which interacted negatively with the thyroid medication she is on daily...

Posted by: Ferrara | October 09, 2006 at 11:22 AM

Hi, I just got back from an emergency run to the vet. When I got home today I found my poor cat dizzy, confused, and unable to walk. The vet is 99% sure she ate a bluetailed lizard that is toxic here in MS only in the fall. I think the lizard's tail is only blue in the fall. She is staying overnight and having blood work to be sure. It sure has given me a fright!

Posted by: susie | October 13, 2006 at 05:55 PM

Our otherwise healthy male DSH (age unknown, but probably between 14 & 17) had his first attack in April 2005 -- like so many of you, an initial misdiagnosis, an unnecessary dose of steroids and a suggestion of euthenasia followed before we went to the right vet. He's had attacks since, and they're nearly always related to severe barometric pressure drops (there have been one or two attacks that may have been stress-related). The good news is that the attacks seem to bother him less and less -- they now rarely last more than 6 hours (the first one was a 72-hour attack complete with what our vet described as "self-induced blindness" -- since the nystagmus nauseated him so much, he simply stopped using his eyes until the attack ended) and he is much more mobile, not disoriented, and able to get to where he wants to go in a more-or-less straight line. His meows during an attack don't sound pitiful and confused anymore -- when he meows during an attack now, he's either calling for us ("prrr-ROW") or just plain angry-sounding. He also seems to use scent and the feel of the terrain under his feet to get his bearings together and his eyes back under control, as strange as that sounds.

I think the most important things to know about FVS is this:

1. It seems to me that "FVS" is really just a collection of symptoms that result from some form of changes to the vestibular nerve or the areas of the brain around it -- as a result, searches for a single cause or a single cure are probably fruitless.

2. Cats can live with it -- our boy hasn't deteriorated, in fact he's able to deal with the attacks much better than he could before. Don't assume that a recurrence means your cat is getting worse, or that she'll need to be coddled and protected during every attack.

Posted by: Mert | November 11, 2006 at 02:01 PM

Bless all of you cat lovers. My cat recently had this awful condition. The vet, and a half donzen folks I talked to here in eastern North Carolina after all implicated the "blue tailed lizard", i.e. 5-lined skink, as the probable vector.

While it does seem that the are multiple causes of FVS, here in the Southeast this lizard is becoming known for it. I was surprised to see similar suspicious from area outside of the Southeast. Leo was a mad-cat when it came to hunting, and he just would not lay off the lizards . . . but he is OK now. I am worried about next season though . . . he might get put on lockdown! There is a REASON the tails of these lizards are blue!!

Posted by: Chris | November 28, 2006 at 07:15 PM

My cat Boots exhibited the same symptoms you have been talking about--after blood work he was diagnosed with an ear infection (or a brain tumor!) and is taking some antibiotics for an ear infection, but is now refusing big time to eat or drink anything. For over a week we have been literally force feeding him. It looks like he's having a terrible time but we're afraid to let it up to him since he shows absolutely no interest in any type of food, even his old favorites. Any suggestions on ways to make this go easier for him. He is getting better, especially with the walking and head tilt, now it's the food problem. The vet suggested "hand feeding" him tuna or whatever he would eat but we're having no luck.

Posted by: Bonnie | December 04, 2006 at 09:27 PM

What meds is he taking> Just the antibiotics? Any others? I'd suggest stopping or modifying the meds with your vet's approval to see if his appetite returns. A year ago my cat (who subsequently acquired the FVS problem) stopped eating for four days and became anemic and it was because of recently starting a new med (a vasodilator) that interfered with her current thyroid med somehow. I stopped the new med, her appetite slowly returned, and the vet prescribed a different vasodilator at a carefully regulated dose. There is also the possibility that there is something more serious going on with your cat, it can be a very bad sign when they stop eating (kidney or liver disease), so he needs a full blood analysis if he hasn't had that already. When cats won't eat, I try poultry flavor baby food, or tuna water, and sometimes that works. I hope he gets better soon!

Posted by: Ferrara | December 05, 2006 at 10:42 AM

I forgot to add in my post above, that, for what it's worth, my own cat's episodes with FVS did not affect her appetite in any way. She continued eating and drinking during the terrible tipping and falling, and her only problem was getting to the food and water dish (I had to help her, and she ate laying down on one side since she could not stand or sit).

Posted by: Ferrara | December 06, 2006 at 10:14 AM

My cat Whitey is 8 1/2. He has always been a vibrant cat with tons of energy, able to get on top of the refridgerator in 3 seconds flat. Until 2 weeks ago.

Right after Thanksgiving, I noticed that he was starting to look sidewards. 2 days later his head was tilted way left and he had lost all of his balance and ability to jump up onto anything. He also was falling off of the couch and bed. And appeared to lose weight over night. I took him into the vet the next day, Nov 28th. He watched Whitey wander around, and his immediate response was something with the brain. The vet ran all possible blood tests and organ tests. Everything is as should be 100%. The only thing he could see is some minor swelling in his right ear. But he is leaning to the left, which the vet found odd. The vet gave Whitey a steriod shot and sent me home with antibiotics. That night Whitey had trouble eating. He seemed to not be able to chew and I could hear is teeth grinding together. He also would put one paw entirely into his water dish and his sidewards head would remain sidewards and he seemed to breathe in some water into his nose. He wandered around looking totally confused, and would run into walls. It took him a full minute to make it up stairs.

2 days later Whitey was improving a lot. He was eating well, and regained his balance. He also ran a little bit again and seemed on the road to recovery. He was well for several days.

Approx Weds, the 6th, we noticed the tilted head again. He has slowly over the last few days gotten worse and worse. I watched my cat slip, then roll down the last 4 steps and hit the floor tonight. His hind legs seem to go out on him, and he falls a lot. Right now he is just wandering aimlessly around. He hasn't stopped for nearly 2 hrs. He slept almost all day. Tonight I started doing research, and found this sight. I will call my vet and ask him what he knows of FVS. I think the steriod shot is what helped the swelling, and temporarily made Whitey better.

Most people have been talking about improvement in 72hrs. I'm on my 12th day since our vet vistit, and my cat is back to the same condition he was in. He does not appear to be in any pain. Just confused. And he has not groomed himself in days. I've been brushing him.

He is totally sidewards. Best way I know to describe it. And I noticed today that one eye is dilated way more than the other. He is not having the rapid eye twitching that others have mentioned.

I am glad to run across this sight and see other similar symptoms. I do hope that my cat only has FVS and will recover. I cannot imagine having to lose my cat any time soon. And my 1yr old daughter thinks he is just the funniest thing she has ever seen. I look forward to her having many happy years with Whitey, as I have.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for having this site.


Posted by: Heidi K. | December 09, 2006 at 11:44 PM

Hi, my 15 months old baby, Ghandi is suffering from very severe vestibular disorders which caused by drug intoxication called aminoglycoside antibiotics - he can barely walk or eat and I have been syring feeding him -- his considiton gto much worse from the day the med was given which was 12 days ago, he has been on clavomox which has not helped himwe are very desparate -- please any informaiton regarding treatment and progonsis is so apprecdiated -


Posted by: Hideyo Yamamoto | December 11, 2006 at 01:21 AM

I am thrilled to have found this site, and have read every entry since July o5. On Dec 21st I was awakened minutes before my usual alarm, by Dave, my beautiful white long haired kittyman. He was on the floor looking kinda funny, but everything does at 5am. As I stumbled into the hallway I noticed that he did too. Immediately I knew something was terribly wrong with him, he then fell over picked himself up and walked along the wall until it ended, then fell on the floor. My heart sank, I thought as many of you did, he had had a stroke or was poisoned. He didn't appear to have any muscle weakness and he had his usual hearty appetite. He was frustrated. Meanwhile my other cat Drewcilla was amused to see the usually dominant cat in this predicament. Horrified about the possibilities, I had to go to work for at least a few hours. My house is a ranch style, no stairs. Usually indoor/outdoor cats didn't put the kittydoor in. The Vet that I had been using has seriously disappointed me a few times (bad judgments,big ego)and I felt that I would go to the Emergency clinic that had an MRI and several Veterinarians on staff. Unfortunately I didn't find this site until I came home from leaving Dave at the Hospital. Before I left for the hospital I spent some time online, I did have an idea that it was some sort of Vestibular Disease prior to taking him. My concern was, was it inner ear or a tumor or brain damage? I too had worked in an animal hospital many years ago, and I consider my self at least aware of the many pet problems that can occur, and that a vet is like any doctor. The medical profession is not an exact science, there is a level of educated guessing, common symptoms, some are more intuitive than others. Unfortunately out of fear and mistrust I wanted them to do the MRI ($1800). I hadn't know about how common this disease actually is until spending more time online on other sites, then finally this site. After exploring him under sedation and finding nothing(looking for obvious pollyps or tumors) he had an MRI. THey found nothing.

IT WOULD HAVE BEEN MINDFUL OF THE PROFESSIONALS TO ADVISED ME OF THE FACT THAT DAVE'S SYMPTOMS WERE NOT THAT UNUSUAL FOR "IVD" AND TO PERHAPS EVEN PUT HIM ON AN ANTIBIOTIC AND SEND ME HOME WITH HIM, KEEPING HIM IN A SAFE PLACE AND IF NOTHING CHANGES IN A FEW DAYS THEN DO EXPLORE AND MRI. My financial situation is very bad right now, and my credit card turned me down. I opted for other financial assistance which will further endanger my credit. Its not about the money, I love my pets and would do anything to help them.

It wasn't pretty when we got home. Drewcilla wanted to play with him and was torturing him, Dave just wanted to go out and poop, and didn't want the litterbox. I can understand why, it was very difficult for a 15 lb tipsy cat to line himself up correctly in any size litter box. He fell over a few times in the box. It didn't help that he was constipated and had poop stuck in his rectum, and on the back of the hair on his legs. After clean up we all went to bed. Dave wanted to sleep in bed with me, which he always wants when he's sick or injured. Thank God I got him clean! 3 days later a little improvement. Still walking lile a drunken sailor, Still has head tilt, no unusual eye movements, a little less falling over. He has been on Clavamox and Trasaderm drops for ears as well as Meclezin(Dramamine). Cats are definately complicated animals, with their strong personalities (that we love and fear we will lose)they have their quirks which make it difficult to help them. Meanwhile as I write this Dave has just vomited up his very recent dose of Clavamox and I noticed he's got diarrhea(spell?)again. I am feeling that I shouldn't give him anything but food and water,a safe room and lots of love.

My thoughts are that Veterinary Medicine is no different than our human Medical Field. The Dr's over prescribe medications to support the drug companies that give them all sorts of perks and incentives and suggest every possible diagnostic test to cover their own malpractice insurance advice.

On a good note, I do feel that a place like this site is the biggest help of all. Our collective experiences help us make better decisions. I certainly would have handled the situation better had I been able to read everyone's comments and experiences before I took Dave to the Emergency Vet Hosp. I am grateful to all of you, I hope you and your furry families are doing well. Happy and Healthy New Year.

Posted by: Dawn | December 24, 2006 at 09:42 PM

Thank god for this site. My sisters cat GIZMO had ALL these symptoms last week. We live in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Took him to the VET to cut a long story short, they did'nt have a clue what was wrong with him. They said brain tumour or stroke, and send us to the non emeregency vet the next morning.

Again the VET had never seen this in a cat and said, im sorry your cat probably has a brain tumour, bring him in on Friday to be put to sleep.

I accepted this on the phone, as I had not seen the cat. However, when I went to say goodbye to Gizmo at my sisters, I was seriously unconvinced he was seriously ill. Yes he was struggling to walk. Yes he could'nt jump. But something about him seemed at peace - I held him and clapped him, he was relaxed and content. I knew GIZMO was in their somewhere. I argued until I was blue in the face and managed to get my sister to postpone the VET and Gizmos "death".

Now I have found this she w i ll be pleased to know the cat doesnt need to die.

This site has literally been a life saver.


Posted by: Gary | January 07, 2007 at 09:08 AM

This site has really made me feel a little better about everything. I have had my Holly for about 17 years now and among other problems she has also come down with all the symptoms for fvs, and like most of us i too took her straight to the emergancy vet only to be told nothing and charged an arma nd leg for it. Unlike most of the stories i have heard, holly has not got any better. Its been about a year. She seems to be happy for the most part untill this morning. I woke up with her beside me as usual and i went to the kitchen and came back and she was all over the place as if everything got worse. I went to pick her up and she growled and hissed at me and when i laided her down she streched out her arms and didnt relax. I feel as if she was in some pain. I laied with her on the floor and she final relaxed and started purring. I hope everything get better for all these animals with this going on. It just kills me to watch them.

Thanks for listening

Danielle & Holly

Posted by: danielle | January 08, 2007 at 12:21 AM

Just last night my 17 yr old Scottish fold male cat had what looked to me like a stroke: thrashing, stumbling, head shaking, staggering and falling down. I was very worried, of course, and took him in to the vet this morning (no emergency vet service here, unfortunately). The vet put him on the floor, observed his sideways stagger, darting eyes (which I hadn't noticed), etc., and immediately pronounced it vestibular syndrome; had me leave the cat in the vet hospital. I had thought he was permanently damaged and disabled by a stroke, so this diagnosis is like a wonderful reprieve for kitty. Thank you all for this site: I've learned much about what to expect and can now hope he will indeed come back home and recover from the worst of these symtoms.

Aloha, Sophia

Posted by: Sophia | January 08, 2007 at 05:06 PM

I am so grateful for this site! Praise God for all of those who have shared your experiences. My precious 15 year old tabby, Trixie, is suffering from many of the symptoms mentioned on this site. She's an indoor baby and never goes outside. She's been diagnosed with mega colon and a spot on her liver. (vet thinks it's cancer as her calcium levels are very high. She also has some pink tumors on her body - one on the left side of her head at her eye. She was diagnosed in 2002 and has undergone extensive traditional & alternative medicine treatment. At the time she was diagnosed I changed her food. She was on some generic food, then Innova but I recently started feeding her Wellness (which she loves). Her symptoms of stumbling, eyes being dilated and eyes darting all around started around that time. She had a short bout with the same symptoms about a month ago and seemed to get better in a day or so. However, this past Saturday on her way to the water bowl, she fell down on her side with all four legs straight out. I walk behind her with my hands on her sides to help balance her but when I let go she stumbles and falls. It's like she is determined to go somewhere but her body will not cooperate. I took her to the vet and $180 later he didn't know what was wrong except that she was dehyderated. He gave her fluids and increased her prednislone (sp?) and sent her home. She is still struggling and with balance and falls over in her litter box and everywhere she goes. She still has the same sweet personality, purrs and meows at me, she seems to be happy but dizzy. I sure hope this does not last long. I'm afraid she is going to break a hip or something because she keeps falling. It just breaks my heart. I have prayed and cried a river for her. I am perplexed as to what causes FVS. She has had no exposure to critters or anything poison. I do live on the east coast and our weather has been strange lately. However, my other two cats are fine and the other 10 cats in my neighborhood are fine. Anyway, thanks again for all your posts! I believe this site was an answer to my prayers!!!

Posted by: Lori | January 12, 2007 at 04:03 AM


Don't get discouraged. My little Singapura kitty has had these symptoms twice in 11 months-both happening at about the same time each year. My vet just said that it's probably seasonal vestribular syndrome. She did mention that it seems to be moe of a problem on the east coast due to the "bot flies". We don't jave those in sunny calif, but that dosn't stop Sammy from being "tilty" every October. I will say a prayer for you and your little one. I know how much these little creatures can mean to us.God Bless,


Posted by: Beth | January 13, 2007 at 08:18 PM

It has been 16 days since McFarquhar, my Scottish fold, was felled by FVS. He spent 10 days at the animal hospital. They reported that his eye movement became normal the next day, and that his head tilt and stumbling/falling improved a bit over the first week. He had a setback when his tongue got wounded. Vet thinks the head tilt made his tongue loll to the side and his teeth abraded it. Vet put in a couple of sutures and put him on antiobiotic. I was able to bring him home and was encouraged by his greatly improved sense of balance and good appetite. He held his head normally, walked in a straight line, even if slowly and carefully. But on the third day, his appetite lessened, he became weaker, stopped eliminating. I took him back in to the vet, but he became progressively weaker, anemic, refused food. He kept a sense of himself, however, and responded to me and his caregivers, even producing a ratchety purr. This morning he died (with the help of the vet). Although McFarquhar did not make it, I can at least offer some encouragement to others whose cats have been hit by FVS. My aged cat's FVS symptoms actually did improve over his last days. But I think he knew it was his time to go. Aloha, Sophia

Posted by: Sophia | January 24, 2007 at 12:17 AM

Dear Sophia,

I'm SOOOO SORRY! I will pray that God comforts you.Please accept my deepest synpathy.I lost my little guy three years ago this Sept, and I can still be brought to tears with thoughts of him. I hope you have good friends and family to help you.Your in my thoughts,


Posted by: Beth | January 24, 2007 at 02:18 AM

Can anyone please help me?

My 13-year-old cat Sambo was feeling ill for about a week -- loss of appetite, sleeping all the time. A lot of "hiding" activities -- finding odd and uncharacteristic places in the house to sleep. One vomiting episode with a lot of heavy, viscous fluid. Well, cats throw up all the time, and the symptoms were too vague. I waited for him to show a more definite symptom to avoid a battery of expensive and inconclusive tests at the vet.

After about a week, he started nibbling at some gourmet cat food I had gotten for him, and wanted to go out for the first time in days. I thought he was feeling better. Since it was early in the day, and I expected he would want more food soon, I let him out.

He disappeared. We went out and called, posted signs, etc. No sign of him.

I was beginning to lose hope. Especially as this was the terrible cold snap in California that destroyed a billion dollars worth of citrus fruit. In his weakened condition, I didn't see how he could survive the frost.

Then, at 1 a.m. on Monday, I heard a low, soft cry outside the door. Sammy was huddled on the doorstep, frightened and panicky. He couldn't walk. Kept staggering and falling on his head. He kept trying to walk, and couldn't. Right pupil severely dilated. It was like he was on an LSD trip.

When I brought him in, he kept falling, sometimes on his head. I was worried about secondary damage. Then he began pulling himself along the carpet using one paw. I figured that's how he got home -- dragging himself along with one paw. However, his pads are not torn, and his claws are intact. It's all a bit odd.

Hours after he got home, he ceased walking. It felt more like a decision than a disability. He was tired, and he knew we would carry him. He doesn't struggle against this limitation. He seems to have feeling and some motion in all his legs (stretched both his rear legs when I touched them), though impairment on the right side.

The doctor the next morning diagnosed brain trauma -- either injury or stroke. He said the former was more common, but he saw no sign of broken skin, swelling, or other trauma. That left us with stroke. He's on steroids.

All this was on Monday. Tuesday, I propped him up to eat food, and, with some propping, he could eat a mouthful. Yesterday, Wednesday, he began curling so pronouncedly to the left and downward (though the eye damage, etc., seems to be on the right) that it was impossible to even prop him up.

Then I found this website. I asked my doctor, but he said he considered FVS, but didn't see the "typewriter eyes" or tilting head. I pointed out that he was missing for four days, so we don't have any idea what was going on. We are missing a huge chapter of the book. The doctor put him on clindamycin hydrochloride, just in case. That was yesterday, Wednesday.

Wednesday night, his face began episodes of twitching, whiskers twitching, and "silent meowing." He began gnawing on the cloth around him.

Today, Thursday, this is still going on. However, I tried to prop him up this morning, and it's hard to describe, but there seemed to be a force and energy in his legs that wasn't there before. Also, he wasn't curling nearly as much to the left. I could hold him up for a much longer period.

Obviously, he seems more miserable today than two days ago -- I would be too if my face were twitching. But this doesn't sound like a stroke. It looks to me like something is progressing through his neurological system. That could be wishful thinking on my part, however.

Sorry for the long post, but can anyone help me sort all this out?

Posted by: Sambo's mom | January 25, 2007 at 02:12 PM

Does anyone have any experience with a cat suffering from a GRADUAL vestibular deficit? Our 8 year old male (Bon-sai) has been getting progressively wobbly (back legs) over the past 3 years. When I first brought him to the vet 3 years ago, she said that he was obese and needed to lose weight (he weighs 15 lbs). I knew, however, that there was something wrong. Now she's telling me that it's probably a brain tumor, but he's been on prednisone, and it hasn't seemed to help much at all--everything that I've read on the internet said that prednisone helps considerably if a cat has a brain tumor. He has no nystagmus and no seizures--just a severe head tilt to the right and staggering to the right. He seems to have the most trouble when pivoting (he loses his balance). I'm just kind of perplexed, because if this IS a brain tumor, why is he still alive after 3 years without seizures, etc. and why didn't the prednisone help?

Posted by: Sharon Miracle | February 06, 2007 at 12:14 PM

Hi, this sounds like what may have happened to our cat, however, she doesn't eat. Did yours eat or did you have to force feed her? Just curious whether this is what's wrong with my cat. It may save her life. Because if she isn't getting any better we may have to put her down so she doesn't suffer anymore. I'd greatly appreciate it if that's all that is wrong with her instead of the stroke they suggested.

Posted by: Amy | February 08, 2007 at 12:15 PM

Wow - were we happy to find you guys, but a few days, and over $4,000.00, too late.

My wife called me when she arrived home after work on Monday, crying, and telling me to come home immediately, that our ten year old cat, Penrod, had suffered from a stroke, or had severely injured herself. We rushed to an after hours emergency clinic, where the Vet and staff were great, but had no idea what might be wrong with her ($240.00). They suggested that we leave her overnight, and take her immediately the next morning to a Neurologist.

After a very intensive examination, we were given the following list of likely problems - poisoning, brain tumor, F.I.P., cancer, a "vascular event," menongeitis, and several more that I cannot even pronounce. We were told that the only way to treat her would be to find out exaclty what was causing her head tilt, one eye to be dialated, and inablity to walk straight. They suggested that we start with blood tests, an M.R.I., echocardiogram, and spinal tap. He said that all this should cost no more than $3,000.00.

When I returned the next day for a "consultation," I was told that they had found no obvious reason for her symptoms, nothing was evident except for a small discoloration in her middle brain that showed up on the M.R.I. They said that this did not look like a tumor, but that Penrod had some kind of "brain event." He had decided to run a couple of additional tests, without checking with us, so the actual cost was up to $3,500.00. They were then concerned with her having a much more serious infection that could only be determined by sending some of her spinal fluid to a Pathologist (another $500.00).

I picked Penrod up this afternoon and took her home, we are still waiting on the results from the additional tests. She is somewhat improved, very pissed off, and still not eating. We were told that if she would not eat for us at home, that we were to bring her back, and they would insert a feeding tube.

We are willing to do whatever we have to, to save our cat (we have no children, and Penrod is it), but at what point do you say that she is not going to make it, and that she is suffering needlessly? When I returned from the Vet, my wife was angry, but very excited - she had found your Blog. We are not upset about the money, as much as we are about putting Penrod through all of that, us through this worrying and grief,and the fact that not once has F.V.S., been mentioned by the Vet, Nueorlogist, Radiologist, or any of the other professionals involved. We were about to give up and have spent the last few nights dreading the thought of having to eventually put Bugsy to sleep. Thank all of you for posting. How do we get this word out to other cat owners, and why does the Vetrinarian Profession not know about, or talk about this problem? All of your comments have given us hope that Penrod will get better over the next several days - we will keep you updated.

Posted by: L & E, and Penrod | March 29, 2007 at 04:26 PM

That none of the vets or even the specialists you took your dear cat to even knew of FVS, a well-documented if little understood syndrome in cats, is just inexcusable. If I'd spent $4000 getting services with such professionals I think I would consider suing them for incompetence so as at least to get my money back. First thing I would do is get a referral to a more competent vet.

When I brought my cat in to emergency the first time she had an attack of FVS, the emergency vets did not know about or suggest FVS as the likely diagnosis. Fortunately, my regular vet who I consulted the next morning, DID know about FVS, and so I was able to look it up online and find this remarkably informative and reassuring page on the disorder.

I have had enough of vets who simply don't know enough about their practice or who fail to inform their clients adequately about issues of medication, diet and disease. Recently I took my kitty in to emergency for a bout of throwing up and diminished appetite which had me concerned, and was prescribed a routine appetite stimulant which dramatically worsened her symptoms of agitation (she has hyperthyroidism) and had me fearing for her life for 48 hours, since it was a weekend and the doctor failed to inform me of the possible side effects of the medicine or to provide me with phone contact info over the weekend, ultimately leading me to have to pay $320 for more tests only to find the worsened symptoms were all due to the medication they had prescribed. Any amount of money is worth it when it helps our beloved animal companions, but if you're like me you don't have money to throw away on needless or even injurious procedures.

I'm glad to say that, based on the usual profile of cats with FVS, your cat will most likely recover fully in the next few days. I wish her and all of you well...

Posted by: Ferrara | March 30, 2007 at 12:21 PM

I am so glad I found this site!

About a week ago we experienced a strange spell of warm weather. I opened the windows and enjoyed a few days without having to cool/heat the place.

My 12 year old plus cat, enjoyed the weather too like any other cat would love to do. Lounging on the window cil, watching cars go by then moving to the nearest and sunniest spot around him.

I came home late from work on day and there were no welcoming meows or the sound of paws running down the stairs to greet me. I found Furball curled up in a corner of my bed looking up at me as if the world was like a spinning top ready to fall over but wasn't getting anywhere closer to the damn ground.

Pardon my French.

He attempted to get up and come to the side of the bed where I waited for him, but his hind legs were not following his front. I held him for the night and was surprised, like many of you, by the purring he made through out the night.

Three days later Furball symptoms worsened.

He would hardly move, his third eye lids where peeking up from the bottom of his eyes, walking was a sad sight to watch and he tucked one ear to the side and tilted his head slightly to the same side.

Shaking his head like he so frantically would do, would only throw him to the ground and a few minutes of recovery time were needed to gain his balance, if not pride, to attempt to walk again.

After reading this site front to back and a few days later, Furball started to come back together. He's still a little uneasy when walking but Sir Furball T. Nacho Cheese Lasagna Burke seems to be on his way back to destroying and gutting toy mice and walruses.

Thankyou so much for creating this site and having posts about FVS!

You have no idea how better I felt when finding this site.

Posted by: Kendrick | March 31, 2007 at 03:21 AM

FYI Google "Cats" and "skinks" and "Lizard brains" for interesting info on the relationship between cats eating skinks and FVS. I didn;t think we had any lizards/skinks in Pennsylvania...but I was wrong. Now I know what was ailing Snooky back in September 2005!

Posted by: Marie | April 03, 2007 at 03:20 PM

DamnCuteBunny said...

Though there've been few comments for the last few years, I'd love to hear from anyone who's posted previously what the outcome was for their kitties.

My Cleo (16) had the first episode that I witnessed four months ago. She didn't have nystagmus or head tilt, but recovered within about two hours. She had another episode maybe 2 weeks later with a longer recovery time; then a month later had a bad episode with nystagmus and head tilt symptoms still over 12 hours later. I took her to the emergency vet and then to the specialist vet (neurologist) a few hours later. There she had an MRI, spinal tap and bloodwork done. There were no conclusive results, although she did test positive for inactive toxoplasmosis. The neurologist suspected micro-sized clots as the culprit ("vascular accident"). Cleo was given a 6-week course of clindamycin for the toxo.

She has had at least 5 more vestibular episodes since then. There's never been enough recovery time in between the episodes to get back to normal (if that was even possible) and remains wobbly and unable to jump higher than about 14" off the ground. Her appetite has always been good. As difficult as it is for her, she always tries to use her litter box. Two weeks ago I discovered she'd peed on the bed, probably because she couldn't get down due to an FVS event. Two nights ago I awoke to hear her vomiting and saw the now familiar FVS symptoms.

There was only one post here where someone mentioned their cat having many (16, I think) episodes. Although I recognize the symptoms now, FVS still freaks me out. Cleo seems to have a good life otherwise, but at what point does this ever resolve? I feel terrible that I may be prolonging the distress she has during these episodes.

BLT said...

Hi! I feed a colony of feral cats twice a day, mama and her 3 kitties of 5 months old. One afternoon on July 2012 I find baby gray like she had an epilepsy attack. I thought a snake got her. The next day I checked her and she walked drunk. I decided to grab her and take her to the vet. He said I needed to get many tests done to figure out what she had. I took her home and nursed her. She seemed better. I researched and all of her symptoms pointed at FVS. I made an appointment a week later with a different vet. She had an ear infection. I am giving her antibiotics and she is getting better, doing everything normal except her head is tilted a bit to the side and it seems her hearing of the left side is affected. She is feral so I am waiting for her to be ready for her shots so I can introduce her to my other 3 cats. I spend lots of time with her and after 15days she seems better. I named her Maya.

Erin Neeley said...

My 2 1/2 year old cat Lydia seems to have FVS. About an hour ago my sister and I heard a crash from our basement. We went down to see what happened and found vomit on the floor and Lydia walking in circles. When I went to check om her she stumbled under a table and wouldn't come out. She was crouched under the table and seemed okay. I carefully picked her up to check her out. she seemed a little limper than she usually is when I pick her up, but otherwise seemed alright. After I held her for a few seconds however, her head started to move around dizzily and her eyes flicked back and forth rapidly. Not knowing what else to do, I put her back down under the table. After circling a little she settled down again, and I rushed to the almighty Google. Thank god for this site, before I found it I was reading horror stories about parasites and brain eating diseases!
Lydi just managed to make it up the stairs a little while ago, she's taking it slow, but seems better.

Just now, as I was writing this, she started to get dizzy again. She was sleeping under my chair, and started moving around. When I checked on her, she had the same symptoms as before, so I gently stroked her until she settled down. She relaxed and even started to purr, even while her head was bobbing around, and didn't throw up this time. She did scratch at her ears a lot, but I didn't see any discharge. I really hope this isn't serious, as we can't afford any vet bills right now!

claire said...

Thank you for keeping all these stories here. My kitty Akiko is 5 years old and otherwise healthy. She started showing the symptoms of FVS about a week ago. We went to the vet, who initially thought it was a toxin. Akiko was given fluids, anti nausea meds, antibiotics, and steroids. Her eyes were back to normal in about 24 hours and her apetite returned over the next few days. The vet then said it could be a neurological problem and wanted to give us an emergency referral to a specialist 2 hous away that would cost $1000-$3000. By then we were pretty sure it was FVS and declined the referral. It is crazy that we could google the symptoms and find the answer, but I imagine the vet w trying to cover all the bases based on the symptoms. She never mentioned FVS so maybe I will bring it up when we go back for vaccinations. Akiko is still a little unsteady, but she seems happy. What is upsetting now is that our other kitty, Akiko's sister, is avoiding Akiko and hissing when they come into contact with each other. They are normally quite playful and affectionate toward each other. Akiko hadn't been outside for two weeks prior to her episode, but she was indoor/outdoor previous to the episode and often left critters and birds on the welcome mat. Thanks again for all this info, it's really put my mind at ease.

Mimmie said...

Our 15 to 16 Yr old male outdoor alfa male hunter JJ has what we think is FVS. My sister in law called me to come next door as something was wrong with JJ. He was a stray who initially adopted me but he decided to move next door when my sister in law moved there and I got my dog. (He also held a grudge against me for having him neutered as he was the neighborhood Romeo.) When I got there, he was walking around the yard, sideways, in a circle and falling over. He had fallen off the porch and steps also. Examined him all over and could find nothing wrong. Suspected a stroke or snake bite or poison of some sort. Called vet but he was OOT till Mon. (This was Friday night of course) As he was eating and drinking okay and didn't seem to be in pain, decided to wait a while and see what happened.Made him safe and comfortable for the night and Sis checked on him frequently. The next afternoon, he was much better, running in a straight line. No more crooked gait or falling over. Seems almost recovered. The strange thing is that I was so dizzy from inner ear that same day that I could hardly walk and we had a weather front come thru. Also had sore joints and back. Granny Clampett was right. I too can predict the weather.
I think that we noticed his symptoms late in the onset as he started recovering quickly. Also, the severity of symptoms directly correlates to the severity of the pressure in the inner ear, same as humans, as well the rapidness in the change of the barometric pressure. Good luck and lots of love to all animal parents.

Heather said...

All of these comments are *great* and made me feel so much less alone than my vet did - who made me feel quite horrible because she mentioned that they don't see a lot of resolved IVS because they recommend putting cats with IVS to sleep. [Don't worry - I'd been looking for a new vet anyway; this sealed it!]

That being said, in case anyone else out there has an FIV+ cat, be forewarned that the symptoms of IVS can take longer (in my experience) to resolve in cats who are FIV+. My sweet BearCat and I are close to our 7th week of symptoms (only minimal lingering symptoms now). I just wanted to throw that out there in case someone else with an FIV+ cat was thinking, "It's been 3 weeks! My cat still has symptoms!"

Sara Craig said...

thanks for taking the time to write this. SO strange, cuz our baby girls name is Pearl as well. Miss Pearl by her grandma. she is having symptoms, all except her eyes are not doing the crazy stuff. I would love to hear how your Pearl is doing now? We are on day two of symptoms, Good news though, with all the stumbling, head-tilting etc. she is eating and drinking normally, which is great! we are hopeful now that we have read your site. Scared crap-less before we came across your page, so thanks again for taking the time to write this out! All the owners and kitties appreciate it, im sure! meow. xx

Jackie said...

Hi Sara, it's me, Jackie...I have not been monitoring the site the way I should, but I'm back now and saw your comment. Our Pearl is fine now, several years later...though incredibly, every so often her head tilts and we know she's experiencing a return of symptoms, at least to some degree (nothing severe). I hope your Pearl does well! Thanks for writing.

Alison said...

I see this site is not quite as active as it once was, but I thought I would share my story in case it can help anyone else. Last Thursday evening, my 13-year-old Athena was rolling around and purring on the carpet, just like she normally does. She got up to walk toward me, and she moved like she was drunk. She kind of tilted to one side and stumbled. I didn't notice any issues/symptoms with her eyes, and other than what looked like a loss of control of her hind legs, she seemed fine. She went over to eat and drink--even jumped in her litterbox--unsteady on her feet all the while. After using the litterbox, she jumped back up onto her favorite chair and went to sleep. Like many of you, I panicked and called an emergency vet to ask if she needed to be seen right away. My first reaction/fear was that she had a stroke. The on-call vet said that she could wait to be seen the next day--he said it sounded like she had a flare up of arthritis. Side note: she has never had any symptoms of arthritis or pain...or any health conditions for that matter. This conclusion was probably based on my poor description of her condition as "losing function in one of her hind legs," which was what it looked like to me. Athena slept for about 20 minutes, and when she got up, she was fine. I took her into the vet to get her checked out the next day, but they gave her a clean bill of health, and I left thinking that maybe she just had a pinched nerve or her leg fell asleep or something. Five days later, she had another episode. This time, she was laying on the bed (happy, purring as ever), and when she got up it was the same thing. Except I didn't panic this time. I took a good look at her and realized my initial mistake--she hadn't lost function/feeling in her hind legs at all. What I was witnessing was kitty vertigo. With that new revelation, I did some searching and came across this site. Given her general good health and sudden onset of symptoms, I'm becoming more convinced that she has some form of FVS. However, she has not had any eye movements/symptoms, and her episodes have been extremely brief (~20 minutes each time) with no issues with eating or using the litterbox (other than clumsiness). I would be really curious to know if anyone else has had a cat with intermittent FVS. Athena has only had two episodes, and I hope that is it. Very scary, but she seems extremely health otherwise.

Magic Catterfly said...

Just got back from my vets office, where I rushed my 4 month old kitty Needle this morning. Yesterday he was playing as usual, eating well ( That kitten has NEVER lost his appetite ;) and then took his usual nap. Later that night, he was wobbly, not acting himself, and was hiding in a box. My vet looked in his ears, tested his legs, let him walk around, and said it was FVS. He gave me antibiotics, and an ear medicine because he found some crusting in there, but no mites. I was so scared that Needle was going to leave me, and of all my acts, he is the one who comes up for cuddles, and will actually "kiss" my face. When my vet told me (Thank you Dr Reynolds!!) that it was NOT catching, and would not cause death, I was so relieved!! Already Needle is improving. The vet told me that some cats, who wasnt even treated for this disease, get along well after a while. And if they dont go back to being 100%, that their quality of life is no different than another cat without FVS. He said it was a little rare for a kitten to get FVS, but it does happen. So-- no one lose hope :)!!

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intheknow said...

Wow. what a shame that there are so many 'crooked' vets and vet hospitals out there. Its the same situation here too, unfortunately. Its almost as if its all planned out, (vets not returning calls till after you visit the ripoff emergency place, endless referrals, lots of spent money with little to show for it, except maybe a dead or miserable pet, drugs galore!). Maybe if some of you posted the names of your "vet(s)", along WITH the horror stories, this may save some grief and pets lives. The "ripoffreport", aka the "badbusinessbureau", is a great place to vent and get your story out, basically unedited. I use it, and it has saved me countless headaches. I dont believe in paying vets mercedes payments at the expense of pets. Best of luck to all of you, and remember, high protein canned, followed by quality dry from your farm supply store, is like the apple a day for kitties!

Unknown said...

Thank you for a hugely helpful website. We are now 3.5 weeks into our 16-year-old DSH cat Grace's recovery from the onset of feline vestibular syndrome in December 2016. Similar to other postings here, Grace's symptoms were preceded by an upper respiratory virus (sneezing, eye discharge), but also accompanied by blisters that broke out all over her body and then scabbed over. (This coincided with my daughter coming down with hand, foot, and mouth disease. There is no proven link between human and animal versions of this illness, but the timing seemed suspicious to me.)

Grace had some of the textbook signs of vestibular disease: head tilt, listing on the affected side, unable to walk, and unable to use the box, eat, or drink without assistance. But she did not have all them: she did not have nystagmus (eyes darting back and forth). The onset did not happen in the late summer/early fall, or after a drop in barometric pressure, as are common, but rather in the dead of the winter permacloud. Grace also had an unusual symptom: her pupils were dilated unevenly (the pupil on her affected side was constricted). The first week of her recovery was up and down: she would show progress, then regress, then show more progress. But gradually she improved from not being able to walk, to circling, to walking along the walls, and then finally to walking unassisted. Now, 3.5 weeks in, she is left with a slight head tilt that is more pronounced on some days and less pronounced on others.

The emergency vet that I took Grace to see did nothing but put her on prednisone, which did not seem to help. Then we saw Grace's usual vet, who took her off prednisone, gave her a shot of Convenia just in case she had an ear infection (which we both doubted), and put her on a 16-day course of Cerenia (for motion sickness and vomiting). The Cerenia helped tremendously. We also did a set of full-body x-rays to rule out obvious underlying causes, like a mass. They showed nothing out of the ordinary.

Grace also has the old-cat trifecta of chronic kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, and, most significantly, high blood pressure (which we were still trying to get under control when all of this began). Her cardiologist, who was able to rule out stroke as the underlying cause, hypothesized that Grace might have had a small bleed in her inner ear, caused by high blood pressure, which then triggered the vestibulitis.

As most cases of vestibular disease are idiopathic ("cause unknown"), and as most cats (like Grace) do not exhibit symptoms of high blood pressure until irreversible damage has been done (she lost most of her vision this past fall to high blood pressure), if you have a senior cat, especially one with vestibular syndrome, get its blood pressure checked.

Kevin said...

My cat has been experiencing dizziness and falling off of the sofa and bed and is unable to swiftly climb down off of the bed or sofa too. He's lost his appetite too. He has a lot of these symptoms with walking staggered, tilting his head (but not always), but he does not have rapid eye movement. He does have trouble finding me sometimes. I can be standing directly in front of him and he will look left, then right, then left and even when I call his name he continues to look around confused. Finally he sees me in the middle and stops searching. Why he's unable to quickly ascertain where I'm standing is quite odd. If I pick him up he seems fine, but when I go to put him down he struggles like he's falling off of a cliff. He ducks his head down. When he get him close to the floor so that his feet touch I can let him go. If I let him go before that he will fall on his head. It's like he has no depth perception. He started this behaviour exactly 1 month ago and it is not getting any better. It's not getting worse either. He was put on an antibiotic but after 3 days he would not eat his food anymore and appeared to be getting worse so I took him off of the antibiotic. Now the animal hospital wants me to do an MRI costing $3,000. They money is not the biggest issue although it is an issue. The biggest issue is there is a slim chance the MRI will show anything. If he has a brain tumour nothing can be done. If it's an inner ear issue, the MRI will not show that. Since it's been a month I'm scared he's dying. He was given an appetite stimulant which helped and an anti-nausea pill called CERENIA (maropitant citrate). The anti-nausea helps him but makes him extremely lethargic. I've read through lots of comments here and since my cat's eyes are not darting back and forth and he's had this for a full month it does not seem to match with other symptoms I'm reading here.

Alle Amber said...

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