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Nystagmus in Cats, What it Looks Like

Nystagmus in Cats, What it Looks Like

I didn’t notice when my girl was a kitten but one day when playing with my Ragdoll cat I noticed her eyes were flickering back and forth. Of course, I was concerned so off to the vet for a checkup we went. Thankfully our vet assured us all is fine she had a Nystagmus which is a very common thing with Ragdoll cats. If you are having a similar moment wondering what is going on, here is a little more about nystagmus in cats.

What is a Nystamus?

A nystagmus is the involuntary darting of the eyes back and forth. A nystagmus is just a fancy word for unintentional eye movement in your cat. When you look at your cat you will see their eyes going back and forth. When you spot a nystagmus in your cat it is marker of a problem in their nervous system.

If you are into the science behind it here is a more detailed expiation. When you have nystagmus the visual path- way from the brain to the retina is misrouted. The wrong pathways do cause problems with depth perception.

What Causes Nystagmus in Cats?

There are several things that can cause eye flickering and this is why it’s important to bring your cat in for a checkup if you notice this in your cat. The most common underlying cause is vestibular disease. The vestibular system is the sensory system responsible for maintaining proper balance of the head and body.

Some cat breeds are just more likely to develop a mild nystagmus, like our Ragdoll. Other breeds of cat commonly affected are Siamese, Burmese, and Himalayans. For these breeds displaying symptoms is  often inherited at birth.

Treatment for Nystagmus in Cats

We are just watching to see if he balance ever gets worse. In the event she becomes wobbly or has issues navigating around the house we would want to take her back in ASAP for a checkup. If she is losing her balance that’s a sign the condition is worsening and needs to be treated. She is 7 years old now and hasn’t needed any further treatments for her nystagmus.

In mild cases there is nothing that needs to be done to treat a nystagmus. Your cat can live a normal life and happily hunt their toys and birdwatch from their window. However, if your cat has severe symptoms that is causing imbalance then it’s time to intervene. The treatment and care for you cat will dependent on the underlying cause of the disorder and the severity of symptoms. 

If your cat has an ear infection at the root cause you will probably receive an antibiotic treatment from your vet. Or if a tumor is the underlying culprit you would be facing treatment options of chemotherapy, radiation, or even surgery to remove.

Video of Nystagmus in Cats

Since our cat’s nystagmus is very mild you do have to look very closely at the video to notice here eyes moving back and forth. She does not have this present 100% of the time. It seems when she gets really into play is when I notice it the most.

Do you have a cat with a nystagmus? Let us know in the comment section below!