As you may recall, my girlfriend's cat Sable had what we thought was a stroke about a week before Christmas. After $2200 in tests and examinations, we left the emergency vets' place no more informed than when we brought her. But after hand feeding and being taken care of, she recovered back to her old self, with the exception of a permanent tilt to her head and drunken walk.
Then on Monday of this week she awoke from a nap with all the same symptoms of when she was first affected a month ago. Her head was rocking and her eyes were dancing (nystagmus) back and forth, and she couldn't keep her balance.
We brought her into the bedroom and my girlfriend stayed in there with her (she stayed home from work) and she went back to sleep.
When she woke up all the symptoms were gone again. While we were thankful for this, it was as if the initial problem had happened all over again. SO my GF made her an appointment with a regular vet this week, and we saw them yesterday.
It turns out that Sable has vestibular syndrome. The vestibular system is the sensory system of the inner ear. It affects balance, muscle movements that control walking, and the neural structures that control eye movements.
There are a number of infections that can cause it, as well as stroke. But as all of Sable's tests came back okay, there was no sign of infection and the new vet said we would see other problems if it was a stroke. She thinks the vestibular syndrome is idiopathic, meaning it has no real cause other than age. The vet said she may have re-occurrences of symptoms (i.e. attacks), and if that's the case to give her half a tablet of Dramamine so she doesn't get nauseous from being dizzy.
So, $2200, a neurologist, a radiologist, an ultrasound technician, doctor of internal medicine, and an oncologist later, there's nothing wrong with her. I'm still pissed that the other place told my GF that Sabey had lymphoma. Although the biopsy had complications (thanks to the idiot who nicked a blood vessel and caused an internal hematoma, necessitating an overnight stay), the results were negative.
There is no real treatment, because as Sable showed us, she was eventually able to adapt to the changes with her balance. She does have the permanent head tilt as described in the article linked above, along with difficulty walking. Basically, she's tippy but normal.
My GF and I gave it a name tonight. VOLTS. Very Old Lady Tippy Syndrome.
She's such a sweet girl and a real trouper kitteh!