Paralysis in Cats: Causes and Treatments

Lisa Selvaggio
by Lisa Selvaggio
Paralysis is defined as the loss of feeling and muscle movement anywhere in the body. Cats can be diagnosed with partial or complete paralysis.

Having an understanding of what could cause paralysis, as well as what can be done to treat it, is helpful to pet owners and rescuers.

What Can Cause Paralysis in Cats?

There are many factors that can lead to paralysis in a cat. Your veterinarian will examine your kitty and try to determine the cause. And, once the cause is found, the appropriate treatment can be prescribed.

Paralysis in cats could be the result of:

  • Spinal injury
  • Physical trauma
  • Nerve inflammation
  • Inflammation or infection in the muscles
  • Inflammation or infection in the spine
  • Infection in the vertebrae of the spine
  • Malformed vertebrae or spine
  • Blockage of blood flow to the spine or to the hind legs
  • Intervertebral disc disease
  • Cryptococcus
  • Tick bite
  • Toxoplasmosis
  • Bacterial toxin
  • FIP
  • Cancer or tumors in the brain or spine

What Are the Symptoms?

Symptoms can vary based on the cause of the paralysis. Also, symptoms might be less obvious at first and worsen over time, or they might come about suddenly.

Here are some signs to look out for:

  • Inability to move one or more areas of the body, such as the legs, tail, back, head, and neck
  • Twitching that’s uncontrollable
  • Movements that are slow
  • A gait that’s unsteady
  • Stumbling
  • Delayed reaction, or no reaction, to stimuli or pain
  • Trouble drinking or eating
  • Inability to control urination or defecation
  • Inability to urinate
  • Dribbling of urine
  • Constipation
  • Trouble breathing

It’s important to visit your veterinarian promptly if these symptoms arise.

What Are the Treatments Available?

Paralysis can be terrifying for both cats and their owners, but don’t lose hope. Your vet could recommend medications, therapies, and/or surgery to treat the problem, and you can also be given instructions on how to manage your pet’s care at home. Plus, holistic treatments, such as acupuncture, are additional options that you can consider trying.

Recovery may be possible. But, in the event that the paralysis isn’t treatable, your vet can recommend products like wheelchairs and diapers for cats. There are ways to care for your pet so that she’ll be able to live a normal, happy life.

Take, for example, the many cats on social media who are paralyzed and proving that they can thrive. Waverly is a paralyzed kitty who has been able to make great strides with the help of various treatments, including acupuncture and hydrotherapy. Chloe is a cat who was paralyzed when she was a kitten. Despite not having use of her hind legs, she gets around just fine, and her owners help her go to the bathroom by manually expressing her bladder.

Work Closely with a Veterinarian

Prompt treatment is necessary for a cat who is paralyzed. Determining the cause of the paralysis will allow a veterinarian to figure out what treatments would be best. The bottom line is that paralysis doesn’t have to be a death sentence, so don’t be afraid to talk to your vet about all of the ways that you can help make your kitty comfortable and happy.

Lisa Selvaggio
Lisa Selvaggio

Lisa Selvaggio is a freelance writer and editor, and our resident cats-pert, with certifications in pet nutrition and pet first aid. She enjoys producing content that helps people understand animals better so they can give their pets a safe and happy home.

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