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Find information on animal health topics, written for the veterinary professional.

The Nervous System in Cats

By William B. Thomas, DVM, MS, DACVIM (Neurology), Neurology and Neurosurgery, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, University of Tennessee ; Kyle G. Braund, BVSc, MVSc, PhD, FRCVS, DACVIM (Neurology), Veterinary Neurological Consulting Services ; Cheryl L. Chrisman, DVM, MS, EDS, DACVIM (Neurology), College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida ; Caroline N. Hahn, DVM, MSc, PhD, DECEIM, DECVN, MRCVS, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh ; Charles M. Hendrix, DVM, PhD, Department of Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Auburn University ; Karen R. Munana, DVM, MS, DACVIM (Neurology), College of Veterinary Medicine,North Carolina State University ; T. Mark Neer, DVM, DACVIM, Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, Oklahoma State University ; Charles E. Rupprecht, VMD, MS, PhD, LYSSA LLC ; Robert Wylie, BVSc, QDA

The nervous system is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and several different kinds of nerves that are found throughout the body. These create complex circuits through which animals experience and respond to sensations.

A familiar type of nervous system circuit is a reflex. Reflexes are simple networks found in the nervous system of all animals. For example, when the eyelid is touched, it closes; when the toe is pinched, the foot pulls away automatically.

Many different types of diseases can affect the nervous system, including birth defects, infections, inflammatory conditions, poisoning, metabolic disorders, nutritional disorders, injuries, degenerative diseases, or cancer. Neurologic diseases are often more common in a particular breed or sex, or tend to occur at a certain age.