When a cat is disoriented and walking in circles, take her to see a vet right away, particularly if she exhibits other unusual physical symptoms. The cat might have a simple ear infection, but there's also a chance she might have suffered a head injury or developed a serious disorder.
Watch out for ear infections
When an ear infection is the cause of your cat being disoriented and walking in circles, it also makes him appear wobbly and off-kilter. Look for accompanying symptoms such as nausea and lack of appetite. Other signs of an ear infection include head tilt, head shaking, and ear discharge.
An ear infection's cause could be one of many things, such as ear wax buildup, an ear tumor, allergies, or a ruptured eardrum. However, a common culprit is ear mites according to WebMD. Your vet will inspect your cat's ears and treat the ailment accordingly, typically with antibiotics, corticosteroids, or anti-parasitic or anti-fungal medications.
Beware of low blood sugar
If your cat acts confused, shivers, has seizures, or collapses, she could be suffering from hypoglycemia, a condition in which blood sugar levels drop precipitously. This is typically due to an insulin overdose in cats being treated for diabetes.
Other symptoms include trembling, pale gums, and anxiety, according to WebMD. Call your vet immediately. He may have you administer a sugar solution at home to stop the episode and will probably want to see your cat for blood tests and urinalysis as soon as possible.
Check symptoms with a vet
A cat who walks in circles may be suffering from a head injury sustained by being hit by a car or other traumatic injury. Traumatic brain injury initially involves a primary injury — such as a skull fracture and bruising of the brain. The secondary injury occurs over minutes or even days as the brain gets damaged by such things as swelling or bleeding, according to VetMed. Prompt attention is crucial to minimize damage and increase your cat's chance of recovery.
As your cat can't tell you it was in an injurious accident, your only clue might be seeing your cat disoriented and walking in circles. Observe your cat for other signs of head trauma such as bleeding from the ears or nose, lethargy, unusual eye movement, unusual head tilting, or a difference in pupil size and report your observations to your veterinarian.
Your vet can perform a physical and neurological examination along with blood tests and X-rays to diagnose the problem. Inform your vet if your cat is taking medications, like metronidazole, that can cause nerve damage that results in disorientation.
Beware of balance issues
A cat's vestibular system controls balance, and when something is off with the system, a cat may walk in circles or fall over. There's no particular cause or cure for this condition, known as idiopathic vestibular syndrome, which can strike cats of any age but is most common in older animals, according to Michelson Found Animals.
Look for symptoms that include jerking eye movements, oddly tilted head, and walking as if they just got off a merry-go-round. Some cats may show few symptoms and recover without intervention, but severe cases may require medical attention. Your vet may prescribe something to help with the dizziness and nausea that accompanies the disorder.
Handle with care
A cat who's in pain, is confused, or is disoriented may be a challenge to handle. Use caution when approaching your cat, as she may bite or claw out of fear. Wear long sleeves and gloves, and cover her gently with a blanket or towel as you place her in her carrier for transport. Let your vet know if she's behaving aggressively so medical personnel can take precautions as well.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.