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What are Leg Paralysis?

When leg paralysis occurs in a cat, it is in need of urgent veterinary attention. Care should be taken when transporting the cat so as not to cause further impairment or injury.

The inability of an animal to move or feel one or more legs is referred to as leg paralysis. When motor and sensory function is only partially impaired, this is referred to as paresis. When function is completely impaired it is referred to as paralysis. The inability to move all four legs is tetraplegia, whereas paraplegia occurs when the animal cannot move two legs. Leg paralysis can be the result of several things that are not common in cats including trauma from a fall, accident or abuse, viruses, or tick bites.

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Leg Paralysis Average Cost

From 397 quotes ranging from $500 - $4,000

Average Cost

$1,800

Symptoms of Leg Paralysis in Cats

General symptoms of paralysis are:

  • Loss of movement and/or loss of feeling in leg(s)
  • Incontinence (urinary or fecal)
  • Constipation
  • Limb weakness (paresis) or inability to move (complete paralysis)
  • Lack of pain response in the limb(s)

In addition, symptoms specific to the cause of the paralysis may be present as in the following situations:

  • Dragging leg: radial nerve paralysis
  • Cold limbs, absent or hard to discern pulse in groin: thrombosis (blood clot)
  • Dilated pupils, coughing: tick paralysis
  • Pain, reluctance to move: slipped disc or spine injury
  • Swollen abdomen, weight loss, fever, labored breathing: feline infectious peritonitis
  • Loss of appetite, lethargy: toxoplasmosis
  • Neurological symptoms such as circling, tilted head, fixed pupils: stroke
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Causes of Leg Paralysis in Cats

There are a variety of causes of paralysis in the limbs which result in a malfunction in the brain, spinal cord, or nerves that connect the central nervous system (CNS) to the legs. These include:

  • Blood Clot: Thrombosis where the aorta joins with iliac arteries results in paralysis of both legs. Thrombosis in iliac artery of either leg can result in paralysis of that leg specifically
  • Tick bite: Ticks bites can release neurotoxins into the cat, resulting in nervous system malfunction and paralysis.
  • Stroke: Lack of oxygen to the brain destroys the part of brain controlling leg movement.
  • Trauma: Broken pelvis, injured spine
  • Cancerous tumor: Tumors in the brain or spine can impair CNS function.
  • Slipped disk: puts pressure on spine
  • Toxoplasmosis parasitic infection  Usually is symptom-free in cats but can, in rare cases, cause nervous system impairment.
  • Viral infection: Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)
  • Botulism
  • Inflammation of the spine or CNS
  • Infection of CNS
  • Cryptococcus - fungal infection that can affect the CNS

  • Nerve damage
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Diagnosis of Leg Paralysis in Cats

Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical and neurological exam. He or she will look for signs of trauma and check for pain response in the affected limb(s). They will look for tick bites and check for a weak or absent pulse in groin area that would indicate a thrombosis. Your vet will ask you for a complete medical history of your cat, including any possible accidents or environmental hazards.

In addition, a blood count and urinalysis will be performed to identify possible secondary causes such as infection. An x-ray or ultrasound may be ordered to provide images of the spine and brain, which may reveal tumors or inflammation. In the case of a suspected slipped disk a myelogram may be performed, which involves injecting dye and performing an x-ray to see where a slipped disk may be pressing on spine. If FIP is suspected, a test for FIP may involve taking a fluid sample from abdomen or taking a blood test depending on the type of FIP suspected.

CTs or MRIs are also useful tools to locate the source of nervous system malfunction resulting in paralysis.

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Treatment of Leg Paralysis in Cats

Leg paralysis in cats is an urgent condition and requires veterinary treatment. Your veterinarian will provide supportive care such as hospitalization, intravenous fluids and oxygen therapy as appropriate. Steroids or anti-inflammatories to reduce spinal inflammation are commonly administered. 

  • Further treatment options for paralysis will vary depending on the cause. Various treatments include:
  • Administration of antiserum to counteract neurotoxins released by a tick bite. 
  • Surgical removal of tumors causing nervous system impairment.
  • Painkillers and surgery, if required, to repair trauma or injury causing nervous system impairment.
  • Severe cases of toxoplasmosis may require antibiotics to kill the parasite causing CNS disorder.
  • Thrombosis can be treated with clot-dissolving medications and painkillers but prognosis is guarded and euthanasia may be recommended.
  • Massage therapy and physiotherapy for radial nerve paralysis may be beneficial.

In cases which paralysis is caused by FIP, there is a poor prognosis and euthanasia is usually recommended.

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Recovery of Leg Paralysis in Cats

Prognosis and recovery will depend on the cause and extent of nervous system impairment that resulted in the paralysis. Massage and physiotherapy can be beneficial on a continuing basis. The animal should rest in a confined area without stimulation from other animals or exposure to hazards in its environment that could cause further injury.

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Leg Paralysis Average Cost

From 397 quotes ranging from $500 - $4,000

Average Cost

$1,800

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Leg Paralysis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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mixed

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Fourteen Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Back Legs Drag

Has fleas

Nov. 7, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your questions. Without seeing your dog, it is difficult to say what might be going on, but I do not think that fleas would cause your dog to drag its back legs. He may have a problem with his spine, his back, his hips, or his knees, and there may be medication that can help him. It would be best to call and make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible, and have him seen so that they can examine him and see what treatment he may need.

Nov. 7, 2020

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Dosemtic cat

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Thirteen Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Dragging Back Legs And Screaming All Of Of Sudden

she was find then all of of sudden she threw up and couldn't stand on her back legs she dragging her legs and screaming alot

Sept. 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Older dogs can be prone to back injuries, and those can be emergency situations. If she was dragging her back legs and not able to use them, and screaming in pain, she needs to see an emergency veterinarian right away. Prompt action can sometimes prevent long term paralysis in these situations. I hope that she is okay.

Oct. 1, 2020

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British shorthair

dog-age-icon

6 months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

One Of The Back Leg Cant Move (Limping)

My kitten was active in the morning but when we get off work suddenly we saw him limping. We try to press around the paws area but his response were neutral only when we pressed the join of respective leg he becomes aggressive. I am confuse and im not sure about what happened. Pleas tell me what to do

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Without being able to see him, it is difficult to say what might be going on, but common things that happen with kittens are strains or sprains if they land badly after a jump, or abscesses if they are in a fight outside. If the limping is not getting better over 24 hours, then it would be best to have your kitten seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine the leg and see why the lameness is happening, and get treatment. I hope that everything goes well for your kitten.

Oct. 6, 2020

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Cat

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Four Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Weakness In Legs

Weakness in legs

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them and see what might be going on, and get treatment if needed.

Oct. 12, 2020

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Tabby

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1?

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Back Legs Very Week And Lump Inside Left Upper Thigh And Urinating Blood

All vets are closed. Help

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I hope that your cat is okay and that you were able to get veterinary help.

Oct. 12, 2020

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Rylo

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Stray cat

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1 Month

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Mild severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Paralysis

I found this stray kitten under my car, probably a month old. She couldn't move her back legs although there were no wounds, lumps, and no pain (when I tried to move or squeeze her back legs) present. She's still pretty active, she tries to walk & drag her back legs around and eats when I hand feed her. Yesterday she stretched her back legs very slightly and moved her tail a little. She still looks like she wants to live and has the ability to live. Although due to the quarantine, we are unable to bring her to any local vet. I want her to live, what can I do at home?

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Blacky

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American Shorthair

dog-age-icon

19 Days

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Fair severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Dragging Back Legs
Scooting By Front Legs
Dragging Back Legs, Wobbly

19 day old kitten dragging back legs. He can move them and attempts to stand but falls on his face. It is like he has no control over them like they are weak but they do work. He scoots with his front legs and climbs. There is movement to back ones and he tries but falls over instantly. He even “runs” with many rolls, scoots and pulling from front legs. The other kittens can walk now straight up.

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Nona

dog-breed-icon

Siamese

dog-age-icon

9 Years

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Moderate severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Right Back Leg Will Not Move

My cat Nona, went into the vet on Monday January 13, 2020. We noticed on the 12th that her right back leg was being favored. She also had not been going in the litter box she had been peeing outside the litter box several times but she had me walking around OK. Talk to Vet on Monday, January 13, 2020 and her blood work came back fine they put her on prednisone and she is now eating but not drinking out of the water dish, I put water in with her wet cat food. And then we have to put her into the litter box so she can go do her thing. When she is done and she turns around she falls over. She walks around the house and stops and just stands there she can’t get up from a laying positionWithout struggling. She was a rescue so her age is between 7 to 10 years old we got her in 2015 she’s been fine up until a couple of days ago

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Kitty

dog-breed-icon

Cross

dog-age-icon

2 Months

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Paralysis

My cat is 2 months of old. She had hind limb paralysis from 2weeks. And olso having abdominal pain during palpation. When we give deworming she became recovered. But after 2 weeks she showing similar symptoms like previous.there is a another cat of my neighbors, he also showing similar condition.are there any treatment for this condition?

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Loto

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European Shorthair

dog-age-icon

4 Months

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing
Leg Paralysis
Cat Flu
Back Legs Weakness

I have an outdoor kitten. He's around 4-5 months old. 2 weeks ago, he started showing signs of a cold. I feared he might have caught something (from his brother who had bacteria and took antibiotics). And i took him to the vet. He was given a couple of injections. He was scared and fussed a lot though! The vet gave me pills for home (antibiotics). I couldn't get him to eat anything. He got worse. Coughing. Sneezing. Legarthy. Loss of appetite. No fever. He stopped eating for like 5 days. I fed him stome yogurt one night and he started back on food slightly. I yook him to the vet again for 5 days. He was given more shots. The vet said he caught a virus because i missed his pills. I was feeling very guilty. I don't know if it's true. Anyway, he was getting better slightly. Back to eat and sniffing. Better appearance. No blackness around the mouth and nose. Still sneezing and shaking his head. I noticed he was weak while moving. His back legs kept giving out. While sitting,they slightly feels more extended outwards. He kept faltering while walking. I thought maybe because he was sitting all these days sick. But he now can't get on low edges, barely. He can still stand on his back legs but like when he's stretching they give out. I'm so worried for him. It's like he has no control of his lower part. They keep going right or left while he walks. The vet just gave him anesthetic today and said if it's trauma, he should get better. I'm scared it could be more, like a sensory disease. Does the virus he has got to do with this? Is it just a fall? I can't get him a scan or x-ray. Any help please? (PS: I'm not sure about his breed!)

Leg Paralysis Average Cost

From 397 quotes ranging from $500 - $4,000

Average Cost

$1,800

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