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Ask the Doctor February 2017 Issue

Dear Doctor: Cats and Concussions

Cat on top of tree

Kampol Gaensuwan | Dreamstime.com

Even though cats are very good at reflexively righting themselves and landing on their feet, falls can occur and cause head injuries.

Q. We live in a rural community, and have a couple of indoor-only cats, in addition to a few barn cats out back (we tried to bring them inside when they were kittens, but they were very unhappy with that lifestyle).

One of them — an adult male named Grey, who is by far the least socialized of the group — fell from a tree last month and kept his distance for a while. Now, he seems fine. My question is: Is it possible for a cat to suffer a concussion? And if this happens again, what would be the best course of action?

Adelaide Alfonse

A. Dear Adelaide: Like humans, cats that suffer impact injuries to the head can suffer concussions. However, as you no doubt know, cats that fall from heights are extraordinarily good at reflexively righting themselves in midair and landing on their feet.

So, while it is unlikely that Grey had a concussion, he may have suffered some other injury in the fall, or the fall may have unnerved him enough that he became reclusive for a while — the first instinct of injured or sick cats often is to hide. The bottom line is that I don’t think there are any specific steps you need to take.

John Berg, DVM, DACVS

Professor of Small Animal Surgery

Cummings School of

Veterinary Medicine

at Tufts University

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