My cat had a stroke - looking for recovery advice


New member
Jun 10, 2019

My cat Garfield had a stroke and I am looking for advice to help with his recovery. I will describe the situation below:

The day after Memorial Day I woke up to find that he had bowel movements in three different rooms of the house. As abnormal as that seems it's not unusual for him because he has a history of bowel problems. On occasion he will take Lactulose and Cisapride to help with that issue. When I found him he was walking around the house aimlessly sticking close to the walls when he walked. He would occasionally bump his head on something. He kept meowing but it wasn't his usual meow. It was a sad, deep howl. When he staggered a bit I knew he needed to go to the vet and that's where he went. The vet noticed that his right eye wouldn't react when she moved her finger around it while his left eye would. He wasn't acting himself and she knew that whatever the issue was, it was vestibular. She gave him a shot of prednisone and some antibiotics (his right ear had a tad bit of redness) to get rid of any bit of infection and to help if this was a stroke. She also drew blood which would later indicate that his thyroid was elevated. We went home and he continued to walk around aimlessly doing that sad, deep meow.

That evening at one point he circled around a couple of times and laid down with his mouth hanging open - I cried thinking he was dying but it was potentially another stroke. He still was able to walk a little bit but I noticed he could barely move on his left side. Not sure if the stroke he had in the morning caused it or if that did. The only positive was that he would still eat like a pig! When feeding him that night I noticed also he was tilting his head to one side of the bowl. I stayed with him all night because he kept trying to get up when he was clearly unable to walk properly. By the morning he worsened and that Wednesday and Thursday he couldn't walk at all even though he kept trying to stand up. I kept in touch with the veterinary clinic letting them know what happened and gave him a thyroid supplement they recommended combined with 1/4 of a baby aspirin. It was in my mind that everything was over and I just wanted to make him as comfortable as possible. He still received his medication and I made sure to feed him plenty which he still ate. But it seemed over.

He surprised me Friday morning, the 30th, when I noticed he was able to stand up and walk a little bit. I stayed right by his side when he did but he would do that and then lay down to sleep for a while. Since that morning he has made tiny improvements. I will give descriptions of the current situation:

Personality: To give a brief description of his personality, normally he is a pleasant cat that has a very happy-go-lucky attitude. He would always brush his head against my leg when he got home from work and then he would jump in his chair eagerly anticipating me petting him. Now he is a lot less patient - he growls when I give him his medicine which in the house he has never done before even when I would give him the lactulose/cisapride. He will walk around the house non-stop until he finally tires out and will lay down to sleep. I would say he's still confused.

Bowels/urinary: He has always been excellent at using the litter box. If I put him in it he will use it on occasion but now he struggles with that and will use the floor. I do notice sometimes if he needs to go he will circle around repeatedly, maybe he's trying to search for the litter box.

Vision: I'm not sure if he sees well or not. The vet didn't seem to think vision was much of a problem. His left eye reacts when tested, his right eye will but it takes a lot more to get it to react.

Partial Paralysis?: Movement in his right side is improving compared to when this first happened. At first he couldn't move his front paw at all and his head always had sort of a hanging look to it. Now he's able to keep his head straight at times and can move that front right paw more than he did at first when this happened. He can stand on his own and walks pretty well.

Aimless walking: When he's up he's walking around all corners of each room until he wears out. He will start around the edge and walk to the next room. He stops more than he did say a week ago but still goes pretty aimlessly. He's no longer doing the sad howling that went on the first day or two this happened but he will start meowing once he gets tired. At night he's in a big cage and seems to be pretty comfortable there.

Vet checkups: He is scheduled to go back in another week to check his kidneys since the thyroid medicine can complicate that. I call in to update them on his condition.

Eating: He eats pretty well. He will even stop during his walks sometimes to eat out of the bowls of the other cats.

Awareness: Sometimes I'm not sure if he recognizes that I'm here. I can tell he notices certain things - when my front door opens, he noticed when my car alarm accidentally went off the other day, on occasion he will respond if I call his name. But I don't think he's all there at this point. :( He acts confused. He does still let me pet him but it's not the same cat that would always be super excited to see me.

Other notes:
1. Garfield is estimated to be 15 years old. I took him in back in college in 2007 and they estimated his age at 3 back then.
2. It's potentially important to note that when I brought him in his back leg was hurt from a fight with another animal. The vet said that he could have always had that problem with his eye and we never noticed. Maybe it did stem from that fight but I'm not so sure since he never had any problems getting around until this.
3. Other than what I mentioned above and the bowls, he looked great for a cat at 15 years old.

Any additional details I can give, feel welcome to ask.

1. Do you think it's good for him to get up and walk around like he's doing? He probably goes three times a day for 20 minutes or so.
2. Any ideas to help aid him in his recovery?
3. If you have had a pet with a stroke, is this something where he can regain his personality?

Thank you for all your help!


Mar 13, 2014
New Hampshire
He's an old man and doesn't feel good. The only thing I would suggest is try acupuncture. That may or may not help. At his age I don't think there is much you can do for him but keep him comfortable. If you think he is in pain then please don't let him suffer. I know how hard it is to loose them but sometimes we have to put our own feelings aside and help them pass. I lost one of my bengals to cancer a few years ago. He was 12. I had him since he was an eight week old kitten. It killed me to let him go but he wasn't going to get any better and was having a hard time to breathe so I had him put down. Very hard I know but all their live we do what's best for them and this is the lat thing we can do for them. But you can try acupuncture and a laser treatment. It can't hurt and may gain you a little more time with him.


Author of The Cats of Stony River
Apr 20, 2016
Western NC
Take him to a vet! Has he been to a vet?

Has he been diagnosed and under a vet's care? If not, please get him to a vet and don't try in-home treatments. This is serious.

Good luck and please see a vet.

Purrs, Saav