Cat hiding behind furniture.

Ischemic Encephalopathy in Cats

Feline ischemic encephalopathy (FIE) is a neurologic condition that has been known to strike cats. FIE is caused by a sudden disruption of blood supply to the brain, similar to a stroke in humans.

Although a definitive cause has yet to be determined, cardiomyopathy, neoplasia metastasis, and even feline heartworms are suspect. Affected cats exhibit marked depression, incoordination, circling behavior, and/or seizure activity.

The pupils of the eyes may become dilated, and blindness may be apparent. Acute clinical signs usually resolve within 7 to 10 days; however, residual neurologic deficits of varying degrees often remain indefinitely.

Diagnosis of feline ischemic encephalopathy is based on history and clinical signs seen, as well as ruling out other causes of similar symptoms, such as vestibular disease, feline leukemia, and poisonings.

Treatment of this neurologic disorder involves the administration of high doses of anti-inflammatory medications. In addition, medications designed to dilate the brain’s blood vessels and thin the blood may be employed in an effort to improve overall circulation to the affected regions of the brain.

The prognosis for survival in cats with FIE is guarded during the first 48 hours following onset of clinical signs. After 48 hours, the prognosis for survival is good, since FIE is a nonprogressive disorder.