A conclusive diagnosis of meningitis cannot always be based on the cat’s symptoms alone. Additional tests are needed to exclude other causes of the symptoms and reach a conclusive meningitis diagnosis. Veterinarians may want to begin by running blood and urine tests to exclude any other possible causes of the symptoms. A CT scan and a spinal tap will help make a definitive diagnosis.
Meningitis is a condition in dogs that occurs when the tissues that protect the brain and spinal cord, known as meninges, become inflamed and infected. Meningitis can occur due to viral, protozoan, bacterial, blood parasite, and fungal infections.
Meningitis affects the central nervous system, and it causes the tissue which surrounds the brain and spinal cord to become inflamed. Symptoms of meningitis include fever, stiffness, painful spasms in the back, a stiff neck, and extreme sensitivity to touch. A high fever can cause decreased appetite and lethargy.
Cats diagnosed with meningitis often develop the disease as a result of feline infectious peritonitis, toxoplasmosis, feline immunodeficiency virus, and feline leukemia virus. In some cases cats develop bacterial meningitis, but this is extremely rare. The basic meningitis treatment protocol is to use immunosuppressive drugs and broad-spectrum antibiotics that will penetrate the blood-brain barrier to reduce the swelling and eliminate the meningitis infection.