What are Incoordination of the Legs?
Incoordination of the legs can affect any breed of cat, at any stage in life. While this can be a symptom of a serious neurological condition, it can also have less serious causes such as an inner ear problem. Your veterinarian will examine your cat and review his symptoms to determine the cause of his leg weakness and imbalance.
Your cat uses a variety of senses to move, jump and run. While he is healthy, it is easy to forget that many things can affect his ability to move normally. If your cat begins to experience incoordination of his legs, it can be disconcerting to watch him stumble or collapse.
Symptoms of Incoordination of the Legs in Cats
Cats with balance and coordination problems often exhibit certain symptoms.It is important to relay his symptoms to your doctor, so he can make an accurate diagnosis. The following are some of the most common symptoms associated with imbalance and a loss of leg control in cats:
- Swaying of the body
- Abnormal tilting of the head
- Jerking movements
- Wide stance
- Problems hearing
- Rapid movement of the eyes
- Leaning to one side
- Loss of limb coordination
- Frequent falling
- Hypermetria: indicated by stepping awkwardly or high
- Dysmetria: an inability to judge movements, including distance and speed
Causes of Incoordination of the Legs in Cats
While there are a variety of causes of leg incoordination in cats, some are more often seen than others.The following is a list of the most common causes in domestic cats:
Ataxia is divided into three separate categories sensory, vestibular and cerebellar. This condition is a primary cause of leg incoordination in pets. It can originate from ear infections, congenital defects, neurological conditions, and trauma.
Infections that affect your cat's brain or inner ear can cause him to develop a lack of coordination. These infections are typically treatable with medication.
Tumors located in the brain can cause your cat to have trouble walking.While these types of tumors are more common in dogs, they can occur in cats as well.Tumors can be benign or malignant in nature.
Additionally, incoordination of the legs may be attributed to:
- Neurological conditions
- Brain or spinal injury
- Autoimmune disorders
Diagnosis of Incoordination of the Legs in Cats
Your doctor will begin to diagnose your cat by asking you a series of questions. It is important to include the date of symptom onset and any medical problems your cat has had in the past when answering these questions. Your doctor will examine your cat, taking note of his gait and leg movements. It may be necessary to draw blood for laboratory tests that may aid in diagnosis. The typical tests include a complete biochemical profile and a CBC. In addition, your doctor will obtain a urine sample to analyze for infection or diseases. If your doctor suspects a tumor or brain injury, he may perform X-rays or a diagnostic ultrasound to confirm his suspicions.
Treatment of Incoordination of the Legs in Cats
The treatment for incoordination of the legs in cats depends on the cause of the condition. If symptoms are associated with an infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics for a certain period of time. Cats that have tumors may need surgery to remove them to lessen symptoms. A biopsy will also be done to determine if the tumor is malignant. If so, your doctor may recommend radiation or chemotherapy. In severe cases, your doctor may hospitalize your cat to stabilize his condition. During his stay, he may receive IV fluids and medication as necessary. Cats with symptoms of coordination loss associated with congenital or inherited conditions may have a poor prognosis, as these conditions are generally difficult to treat.
Recovery of Incoordination of the Legs in Cats
Just how long it will take your cat to recover depends on his diagnosis and treatment. Your doctor will continue to monitor your cat for several months following his treatment. It is essential that you keep these appointments and provide your doctor with any information pertinent to your cat's care. Be sure to let your doctor know if your cat has a sudden relapse or begins to act strangely. Your doctor may recommend limiting your cat's activity until he has fully recovered. This is typically done to reduce the stress your cat may feel during the recovery period. Establishing an open line of communication with your veterinarian is key to helping your cat recover, so he can go on to live a happy and healthy life.