My cat fell off a bed as if she was drunk

by Karina
(South Africa)

My cat is possibly around 7 years old. Yesterday she jumped onto my bed and walked on it for a while and as she turns around she falls off the bed almost looked like she was drunk because she couldn’t get up fast enough so I quickly got her.

Her heart was just a bit fast but I reckon that it’s from shock? As she sat on the ground she laid down and started breathing a bit faster and some water like 3 drops came from her mouth.

I quickly took her outside because I wasn’t sure what she wanted to do. Any idea whats wrong? Apparently that morning when she ate she threw up as well. I’m worried its something bad. After a while she seemed okay.


Hi Karina… the medical term for a loss of coordination is “ataxia”. If a cat is looking like she is drunk and if that has continued it would indicate ataxia. It is due to an inability to coordinate voluntary muscle movement. It is the symptom of “some central nervous system disorders” and possible injury.

Although in this instance there is drooing (it seems) and vomiting.

No question that a vet visit is required. I don’t want to scare you but my book says that a loss of control of rear legs and drooling (and pawing at mouth) are signs of rabies (paralytic form of brain inflammation caused by rabies). If it is that take precautions and things will move fast.

Other possibilities:

Central nervous system disorders affect 1% of cats (very rare then). Inflammation of the brain can be caused by an infection. Infections that can cause this are: FIP, Panleukopenia, Feline leukemia, rabies (mentioned above) and pseudorabies.

A stroke is possibility but it doesn’t look like that.

If the problem has continued it may be poisoning. Do you have a rodenticide down in your home (rodent poison)?

Probably a rare condition that causes an “ataxic gait” (wobbly walk) is chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy.

Hypertension can cause ataxia. Hypertension is associated with kidney failure.

Drugs can be toxic to cats and can cause neurological problems leading to ataxia.

Well, I have mentioned possible causes. The most typical diseases are likely to be the cause (obviously) but it depends on whether this is a continuing problem. You may be mistaken about the symptoms. It might be one-off event due to loss of balance and the vomiting might not be linked to this event. Cats a good at being sick!

The only way forward is to see a vet soon.

I wish you both the best of luck and thanks for visiting and asking.

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My cat fell off a bed as if she was drunk

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Nov 25, 2011 My advice
by: Ruth

Karina keep a close eye on your cat and if it happens again take her to your vet.
It could be as simple as a middle ear infection, anything affecting cats ears can throw them off balance and make them act strangely.
I hope she stays OK now.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Nov 25, 2011 Ataxia
by: Dee

I have had similar experiences with both dogs and cats. Most of the time, my vet diagnosed an inner ear infection which is easily treated with antibiotics. In one of my elderly cats as well as an elderly dog, he determined it was Vestibular Ataxia where the nerves of the inner ear are impaired. It sort of resolved on its own with very little treatment except precautionary antibiotics. However, both of these guys kept a head tilt the rest of their lives. Plus, in the case of my dog, he had 2 recurrences. At least I knew what it was by that time and didn’t panic as I had done the first time. (
I am a believer in that it is always best to err on the side of caution. Therefore, I would recommend a vet visit even if (s)he doesn’t find a thing.

Nov 25, 2011 Thank you
by: Karina

Well I gave her food this morning and she ate without problem and she looks perfectly fine today. Also this is the first time it has happened. I know its not rabies because my cat in anyways usually stays only in our yard or inside. I keep thinking its from shock and when she fell I held her cause she was quite scared and perhaps maybe she hurt herself but shes walking fine and acting her usual self. So like you said it could be just a one time thing though I will keep an eye on her to see how she progresses. As for rat poison or anything the only place that has it is up in our ceiling and theres no way of her getting there.
Thanks for the help. Will keep it all in mind

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