Worldwide medical and scientific journal for animal health professionals

Issue number 25.3 Other Scientific

Traumatic head injuries in cats

Published 14/04/2021

Written by Simon Platt

Also available in Français , Deutsch , Italiano and Español

The ability to recognize clinical signs consistent with a declining neurologic status is critical in the management of cats following head trauma. Trauma significant enough to cause brain injury will have systemic effects, which may be life-threatening. 

Bilateral mydriasis in a cat. This can suggest severe brain pathology after head trauma but in this case it was due to bilateral retinal damage following the trauma, suspected because the cat had a normal level of consciousness.

Key points

A thorough systemic evaluation of any cat which has been involved in a traumatic event is essential prior to focusing on the nervous system.


The neurologic exam of the head-injured cat can be condensed into assessment of mentation, limb function and pupillary light reflexes.


Imaging the brain of the head trauma cat can help identify causes of the neurologic dysfunction, but rarely leads to a surgical treatment.


Fluid therapy is essential for all cats which have suffered a head injury and should focus on restoring systemic blood pressure.


Flow-by oxygen therapy is recommended as a first-line treatment for cats with traumatic brain injury.


Introduction

The ability to recognize clinical signs consistent with a declining neurologic status is critical in the management of cats following head trauma 1 2 3 4. Trauma significant enough to cause brain injury will have systemic effects, which may be life-threatening. Additionally, systemic injuries and shock will cause continued decline in the head trauma patient, and a complete systemic evaluation and stabilization is therefore required in addition to a thorough neurologic assessment, as summarized in Table 1.
 

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