Acute collapse in cats is a very frightening experience for any owner and the most important thing to do when your cat does collapse is to remain calm.
Although it is an extremely serious situation, there are several conditions that you will want to make notes on before you call your veterinarian.
Acute collapse is much different that fainting or syncope, although in some isolated cases your cat may lose consciousness.
It is also a much different situation than a seizure or a stupor.
This is a sudden loss of strength in your pet that has caused them to suddenly fall, and in most all cases they will not be able to get back up on their own at least for a brief period of time.
Rushing to your cats side and assisting them is a natural first reaction, however, it can also be unsafe, especially in the first few minutes.
Most cats that have acutely collapsed will be dazed and confused.
It may be a natural reaction on their part to bite or scratch in defense simply because they are very confused and often disoriented.
When your cat does experience this condition, it will be in a sitting position or a lying position.
If they are in a sitting position, it is referred to as a hind leg collapse although it can affect both front and back legs.
If it is in a lying position, it is much more serious and is referred to as a complete collapse.
If a complete collapse is accompanied by a loss of consciousness and your cat is unresponsive, it will be even more important to remain calm initially and make as many notes as you can.
Either type of an acute collapse in cats may be over very quickly.
In this case your pet is able to get up on their own, or it may last for several minutes to hours and your cat may not get up without help.
The severity and the symptoms that you observe will be immeasurable in assisting your veterinarian to properly identify the actual cause.
Acute collapse in cats can be caused by four different systems of your pet that have malfunctioned or have become affected by an underlying disease.
The four systems include: the nervous, musculoskeletal, circulatory, and the respiratory systems.
If it is the nervous system, your cat’s brain, spinal cord, or nerves have been affected.
If it is the musculoskeletal system something has affected your cat’s bones, joints or their muscles.
If it is the circulatory system their heart, blood vessels or their blood has been affected.
If the respiratory system has been attacked it will be something in their nose, mouth, throat, or lungs.
The most common cause of an acute collapse in cats is generally from a respiratory disease that has developed and it has become severe enough to cause this collapse.
Heart diseases such as congestive heart failure or a congenital heart disease such as birth defects in the heart may now be causing the heart to become so weak that it is affecting the life of your cat.
If it is this may be the first serious symptom that you will see.
However, the fastest growing concern in cats is heart worms.
Once considered as only a treat to dogs, it is fast becoming a major threat to cats as well.
Heart worm disease once it has become severe, can cause the blockage of arteries and can also lead to diseases in the lining of your cats heart as well as causing an irregular heartbeat.
When the blood in your cat is not properly pumped throughout the body, it starts to affect your cat’s brain.
Once this happens, it can be literally starved for oxygen which in turn can cause your pet to collapse or faint.
If the cause of the acute collapse in cats is fainting, it has now affected the blood pressure controls within your cats system.
Diseases of the blood are the next major causes of acute collapse.
Blood diseases include tumors or organs that have suddenly ruptured and are affecting your pet’s blood supply as well as its delivery process.
Severe anemia or a disease known as polycythemia could also be the underlying cause.
This condition is somewhat rare in cats, but when it does occur, it will affect middle aged to older cats.
Polycythemia is an abnormal increase in the number of blood cells, mostly red cells which are produced by your cat’s bone marrow.
It produces a very thick blood that results in a slowdown of the transmission of oxygen, and the result is a very sudden loss of strength and collapse.
Respiratory diseases that can cause an acute collapse in cats include any type of a foreign object that has blocked your cat’s throat.
As a result blocks air from entering into your pets lungs.
Fluid in the lungs which is known as edema can cause pneumonia and it can severely retard the flow of oxygen to your cat.
However, respiratory conditions must be approached with extreme caution.
When you witness this occurrence in your cat it will almost always appear that they are choking on something.
The first reaction is to reach into their mouth and try to clear out whatever is causing this choking but it will not help.
The problem is, in most cases there is nothing there and if you attempt this the chances of being bitten severely by your cat are extremely high.
They are already stressed and biting will be their natural instinct.
Nervous system diseases are also very common causes of an acute collapse in cats and they can include clots in the bloodstream that affect and damage the spinal cord.
Other potential causes include a slipped disk, especially in the neck, or a condition known as myasthenia gravis which affects the coordination between your pet’s nerves and the muscles.
In most cases of a nervous disease, your cat will not lose consciousness and be alert, unless it has affected their brain.
Musculoskeletal diseases that can cause a collapse are arthritis or hip dysplasia, but they cause more of a crippling or limping condition rather than an acute collapse.
Acute collapse in cats is a very frightening situation for both you and your cat.
The most important thing an owner can do is to remain calm and take notes immediately.
Monitor your cats breathing and note if it is labored or very rapid, and then check your cat for weakness.
Note if they can or cannot get up on their own, and if they can, how long was it before they could move.
Did they lose consciousness and if so, for how long? What preceded the collapse or what exactly was your cat acting like right before they collapsed?
All of these questions will be paramount to assisting your veterinarian in a proper diagnosis.
If your cat cannot move at all, contact your veterinarian immediately and then carefully lift them and get them there as quickly as possible.
However, the most important thing to do is to remain calm and make plans for the next attack as it a very strong possibility it will happen again until it can be treated and corrected.