Back in 2007, another of our members had a cat which she suspected ha also had a stroke. As I was able to share our experience with Paddy, I thought it might assist if I posted it here, and I'm sure our other member won't mind, but I've taken out some of the personal details just in case, but basically, our experience is as set
"I hadn't caught up with the threads but I've just read through both of them now. I don't know if this will help, but you can have a think about what happened to Paddy and compare Tom's symptoms and see what you feel.
When Paddy had his stroke it was in September last year. It was totally out of the blue, and at the time he was just approaching 15. He came in from the garden one evening, and he was staggering. He was holding his head low and on one side. At first we thought he'd been hit in the head by a football or something, but it was impossible to say. He kept collapsing and having what appeared to be spasms. He was also sick, but just brought up frothy bile.
He'd only just been to the vet two days before to have his annual check up and booster injections, and he'd been right as rain apart from his heart murmur, which we knew about.
We contacted our vet, who at first said leave it an hour and then call him back. However, Paddy kept falling over, and we were frantic so we took him straight up to the surgery and our vet met us up there (it was out of hours, but our vet doesn't have a locum)
He examined him and could scarcely believe he was the same cat he'd seen a couple of days earlier. He checked his eyes, his ears, his heart, palpated his abdomen and kidneys, but the conclusion he came to after questioning us about what had happened, was that Paddy had had a moderate stroke. He didn't think he was going to make it through the night, but he gave him an antibiotic jab and a sedative and suggested we took him home, so that he could die in familiar surroundings. We were devastated, but we took him home as there was no way I wanted him left overnight on his own (I mean without us)
We made him as comfortable as we could and sat with him. I supppose really we were just waiting for the worst. After about three hours, he stood up, and wanted to use his tray. He was very unsteady on his legs and his head was still at that awkward angle. I still can't believe that he got through the night. We took him back to the vet the following day, and he gave him another check and said he was 99% sure without doing any kind of invasive surgery that it was a stroke. He was also very surprised Pad had made it through the night. Whilst they're not common in cats, if they do survive a stroke, he told us generally they go on to make a good recovery, although he warned us it would be touch and go.
I have to say that I took a very aggressive attitude with our vet. I was worried, for one thing, and felt his attitude was a bit brusque, but you know looking back, our vet knew what we were like, and responded accordingly. He never suggested putting Paddy to sleep. He said if he was going to recover he would, but if not, given his age, he was better off in his own surroundings, where he wouldn't be overly afraid or stressed (Pad's stress levels on vets visits are legendary, and mine aren't far behind!) If he did die, it would be in his own home. Looking back, I appreciated his honesty, and he knew we wouldn't prolong the matter unnecessarily.
When we went back on the second day after his stroke, the vet said he wanted to run some blood tests on Paddy but not until he was a bit stronger, so we took it, as he suggested, one day at a time.
After about three to four days, Paddy's head returned to a normal angle, and after 48 hours, the staggering was a lot better. He was still unsteady on his feet, and it took about 6 weeks altogether before he was more like his old self again.
During that time he was very quiet and he lost a lot of weight, and we really had to coax him with titbits and morsels. He would be sick quite a lot, although often it was just bile. Our Vet said at the time he thought Pad had a slight ulcer and gave us something for it which took away the slightly pink tinge to the bile.
After four weeks had passed, we took him in for full blood tests, and he also was tested for vestibular disease, which a number of people had suggested might be the underlying problem. He came back completely clear on the vestibular/ear infection front, but we then of course found out he had early stage hyperthyroidism, and the bouts of sickness may be linked to that. There was a slight possibility the stroke may also have been linked to that, but without suergery he couldn't say for sure.
That gave us another difficult decision, because our vet told us that he didn't want to operate on Paddy given his age and general health (stroke, heart murmur) but that it would have been better if we could have given Paddy the old style injections which are now no longer available for use. Instead we'd have to give him tablets. Pad hates tablets of every kind and can whisk them away with a practised "ptoooey" whenever he thinks we aren't looking.
Suffice to say, it's a bit of a hit and miss affair, but as our vet said "it's the best you can do. It's better than nothing and quality of life is the main thing"
And I think he's right.
There's a lot of good advice out there, and a lot of well meaning advice that can get you completely confused and bewildered.
I wasn't at all sure at first when our vet diagnosed a stroke. But, I had a look at the available stuff on google (see vetspecialists.co.uk and messybeast.com) and I do think, gut instinct told me he was right. And Paddy is now, like his old self. The staggering has gone, athough sometimes he's not as sure on his legs as he used to be. He still has bouts of sickness but we think that's more to do with the hyperthyroidism than his stroke.
And he races up our neighbour's cherry tree, right into the top branches - no messin' !
It's very definitely your decision. I would follow your gut instinct. I did, at the end of the day.
I was worried a bit that I may be ruling out viable alternatives, but you either trust your vet or you don't. Had he suggested having Paddy put to sleep, rightly or wrongly I'd have declined until I was 100% sure myself there was no alternative.
I think sometimes, there's a huge feeling that you have to be doing something, rather than doing nothing, (headless chicken syndrome) but taking time to wait and see and to let your cat heal in his own time can be beneficial.
I'm glad I followed my instincts. I still have a seemingly happy cat, who's enjoying his twilight years to the full again. We may not have much longer left, who knows? But I've had tremendous pleasure from the last 10 months that at one stage I never thought to have.
If Tom has had a stroke, then there's every reason to believe he'll make a good recovery. It will take time, but that's okay.
Don't try to over rationalise too much. Just go with your gut feeling."
I hope this will help you, too.