Cerebral edema in a cat: causes, symptoms and diagnostic methods

The central nervous system, it is the central nervous system - one of the most important formations in the body of any mammal, including humans. Any pathology that threatens the health of the nervous tissue is potentially fraught with extremely serious consequences. An example of this is cerebral edema in a cat.

Deciphering the concept

Edema is a pathological process in which fluid accumulates in the body cavity, or directly in the organ. It is important to understand that this fluid in this case is effusion transudate. The accumulation of blood, pus, urine and similar secrets is not an edema! Thus, cerebral edema in cats is a process in which there is an accumulation of fluid either directly in the nervous tissue or in the ventricles of the brain (in general terms).

There are many factors that can cause this pathology, including severe hyperthermia or hypothermia. Various head injuries are very dangerous in this regard. So in any incident when your cat hit his head hard (or you suspect that he hit), urgently lead him to the veterinarian, as otherwise he could simply die.

Types and symptoms

This disease is divided into several subtypes, each of which differs in some nuances in the course of the pathological process. Distinguish between cytotoxic, interstitial, vasogenic and filtering edema. In veterinary practice, they most often deal with a vasogenic and cytotoxic species. In the first case, edema begins due to increased vascular permeability, and in the second, the reason is the "swelling" of the neurons and astrocytes themselves. It happens with improperly prescribed medication, parasitic and infectious diseases, as well as poisoning.

Be that as it may, you need to remember one thing - the condition is extremely serious and dangerous, regardless of the reason that provoked the development of edema. If you see any of the symptoms described below, immediately (!) Go to the veterinarian. The consequences of non-intervention will be too serious. So, here are the most critical signs:

  • Nerve attacks The cat can’t sit, it shakes from side to side, it bangs its head against the wall, etc.
  • Loss of consciousness.
  • Unnatural body position, uncoordinated, unnatural movements.
  • If the cause is hypo- or hyperthermia, then bloody outflows may be observed from the ears, nose or mouth.
  • Redness of the eyes.
  • Cyanosis of visible mucous membranes and skin (i.e., their cyanosis).
  • Heavy or fast breathing (shortness of breath or tachypnea, respectively).
  • Bridicardia or tachycardia (acceleration or deceleration of the heart rate).


Note that cerebral edema, which in itself is a serious pathological condition, does not simply arise. A different pathology always leads to such an outcome, whether it be an infectious disease or a severe head injury.

To edema lead:

  • Head injuries.
  • Severe hypothermia or hyperthermia.
  • Severe hypoglycemia (critically low blood glucose).
  • Anaphylactic shock.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Parasitic diseases.
  • Brain tumors.
  • Infections affecting the nervous system.
  • Poisoning.
  • Autoimmune diseases.
  • Cachexia (extreme degree of exhaustion).


Such diagnoses are not put “by eye”, but there may not be time for an accurate diagnosis. It is very important to tell the host veterinarian when and after what the symptoms of cerebral edema appeared in a cat. Do not forget to mention whether your pet suffers from any acute or chronic diseases. Urine, blood tests, radiography, ultrasound are shown. Some of these tests will not directly indicate the edema itself, but it will help to find out why it appeared at all. It is very important to find out the oxygen content in the blood, since tracheal intubation, and in some cases surgical intervention, is indicated for its critically low content.

Multilateral diagnostics are especially important in cases of suspected traumatic brain injuries or fractures of the skull bones. At the same time, MRI is shown, but the equipment for this is far from being available in all "human" hospitals. An electrocardiogram is also important, which helps determine the condition of the heart. Finally, if spinal cord edema is suspected, a spinal fluid sample may be taken. This procedure is quite painful and dangerous, but gives valuable information that is urgently needed to prescribe the right therapy.


If there are breathing problems, tracheal intubation is indicated. With low blood pressure, droppers and medications may be prescribed to maintain heart function. Diuretics are prescribed to remove excess fluid from the body. The cat's head needs to be kept raised all this time.

Painkillers and sedatives are prescribed. Correct unnecessarily high or low levels of glucose in the blood ... In short, the treatment in most cases of edema is symptomatic, aimed at eliminating the root causes.