Head tilt, disorientation in senior cats

If your senior cat is constantly tilting their head then it is a sign of an underlying medical condition, particularly of the vestibular system. If your cat is tilting their head to either side of their body and is positioned usually away from their trunk and limbs, it is a clear indication that your pet feels imbalanced. They may struggle for balance and will easily fall.

The reason for head tilting in cats is because of the disorder in their vestibular system. It is a sensory system that is located in the inner ear and is responsible to hold the body upright and to move confidently. In other words, the vestibular system tells the body where it is in relation to the Earth. Whether it is standing straight, moving, being still or is hanging upside down.

Symptoms of head tilt, disorientation in cats:

  • Abnormal head posture
  • Head tilting to either side
  • Stumbling or losing balance easily
  • Falls down easily
  • Erratic eye movements
  • Nausea or vomiting

The following factors can be the possible causes for the vestibular disease in your senior cat:

  1. An injury to the ears
  2. Brain disease
  3. Metabolic diseases
  4. Neoplasia or an abnormal tissue growth
  5. Nutritional deficiencies
  6. Toxicity, by the use of toxic antibiotics in their ears
  7. An inflammation of their central or inner ear canal due to bacteria, viral or any other kind of infection


Once you notice these above symptom in your cat you should take them to the vet for a thorough and a detailed medical examination. In severe cases, your cat may need to be hospitalized to receive extra treatment and specialized care. Fluid replacement therapy is offered to those pets that are suffering from dehydration due to constant vomiting. Usually patients are not put on a special diet unless they suffer from certain nutritional deficiencies. For instance, thiamine supplements are given to those cats that have the head tilt disorder due to thiamine deficiency.

Managing cats with head tilt

If the head tilt in your cat is due to problem in their ears then with swift treatment their recovery will be highly successful. Yet, in a few cases, head tilt may still be present. Keep in mind that you must bring your pet to the vet for follow ups and regular checkups. Give the medicines on time and administer the correct dose to your pet. Do not try to give them medicines that have not been approved by the vet, especially in their ear as it may lead to unwanted complications.   

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