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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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Cat

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Six Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Loss Of Back Legs

My cat all of a sudden began to howl, back up and fall. Her back end/legs just weren’t responding and she kept falling. This only went on for a few minutes...it’s never happened before and she seems fine now. She hasn’t changed eating, litter box or activities. I’m stumped and scared for her.

Sept. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment for them.

Oct. 16, 2020

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Tuxedo

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Three 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 Left Leg

she's not in pain, can still jump up on things, eating, drinking, playing but dragging leg around. She was caught under garage door

Sept. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. . If this is still happening and she is still lame or limping, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment for them.

Oct. 17, 2020

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Tuxedo

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2-3

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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 One Leg But In No Pain

cat got caught under garage door. She's happy, eating, drinking, jumping up onto things, she's just dragging her left leg

Sept. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. . If she is still dragging that leg, and not improving, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment for them.

Oct. 17, 2020

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Kitten

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Six Months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Paralysis

She’s not using her back legs and dragging herself with her two front legs. She was also shivering a little.

Sept. 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that your pet is feeling better. If they are still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 21, 2020

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Domestic short hair

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Eight Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Back Legs Giving Out, When Spooked She Pees And Runs Dragging Both Back Legs

Since this morning she has been getting spooked very easily and when she does she starts running around running into things and dragging her back legs, she also urinated on the floor and on herself when she was running through the house. Once she calms down she still has a slight limp. And every so often her back side will tip over ever so slightly. I took her to the ER this morning and they said all of her vitals were fine but she’s never acted this way and I’m horrified. I’m scared she isn’t okay. She is eating and drinking fine. Do these symptoms sound like anything in particular

July 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It is difficult to say what might be going on without seeing her, but pain can make cats act that way, and if she is dragging her back legs, she may have a problem. I would have her seen again by your regular veterinarian as soon as they open this morning, and try to keep her confined so that she can't traumatize her self by running around the house, if possible. I hope that she is okay.

July 30, 2020

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N/A

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PixieBob

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2 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Weakness
Tired
Lame
Constipated
Weakness And Lameness
Lathagic
Tempreture

Like many of you, one day I noticed my cat had a rear left leg limp. I left her for a week to see if it would better itself. I took her to the vet, they gave me anti inflammatory medication. I could not give it to her because she would not take it. The following week I took her for XRays, no signs of problems just a mild hip displaysia. By this time my cat was walking with a funny like otter gait. I was told there were no signs on the XRays of any problems. I went to Othopedic specialist, who then told me it was neurological. I got to the hospital where she had to be seen and immediately they suggested Myasthenia Travis a rare disease in cats This disease is a disease where the cats immune system attacks itself effecting the central nervous system. My cat was put on a very dangerous drug Pyridostigmine - Which blocks the bass cells attacking the good cells allowing the receptors to talk to the nerves effected , so this is what I thought. https://www.google.co.uk/search?client=safari&source=hp&ei=wLruXaW3BMKcsAecpa3wAw&q=pyridostigmine&oq=pyrostig&gs_l=psy-ab.1.0.0i10l10.3232.10685..12694...1.0..0.106.575.8j1......0....1..gws-wiz.......0i131j0.yTZ8t3wPIBE My cat was a non-responder to this medication and it made her like a vegetable unable to eat, toilet or anything, worse than she was before. She had chest X-rays for chest tumour, MRI, EKG, Abdominal Ultrasound, Blood, Urine Tests, we are no further up the road. I took her off of the dangerous medication by weaning her off gradually, and left her on steroid medication. A big improvement with the steroids, although I wanted to see what her limp was all about so asked if we could just put her on metacam. Unfortunately, again, she went down hill once removing the steroids, instead now, I am thinking of uping the dose of steroids as she was almost back to normal. We left no stones unturned, by their has been no conclusive evidence of Myasthenia Gravis. I am hopeful that another visit to Orthopaedics might reveal the first root cause to this problem through an injury of some kind. Myasthenia Travis is normally a secondary illness due to something else. We checked out cat for all tumours associated with this disease, bloods and everything and we still have no answers 2 vets and 3 specialist later and having spent thousands of pounds. Im working with my girl to get her back on her feet, Iv'e tried numerous ways of finding out what it is the most frustrating condition in the world for her and for us. If your cat is having trouble getting to the loo buy a low sided litter tray https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B006LL5Z4S/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 - If they are struggling getting around you need to take the food to him/her and when they are on medication like steroids they will drink lots of water. Don't give up peeps, bear with it, one of us might be lucky enough to find out what is causing these symptoms in our kitty's. All the best and hope this information helps you all. I will of course post again with any improvements to help others.

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Frankie

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Ragdoll

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2 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Paralysis Of Back Legs

My cat recently got stuck under our garage door while no one was home. Was laying on her side and crushed near her ribs/abdomen. Her back legs weren’t working at all. Took her to the vet, they ran bloods and did an x ray, no liver or kidney damage coming up and no breaks showing on the x-rays. May be a rupture in her bladder but unsure at the moment. She was on an IV drip for 24hrs and is now at home with partial movement of one of her back legs but the other is still being dragged behind her. Hoping that they will start working more over time. Still giving her pain medication. Unsure what is causing the paralysis of her back legs. Please let me know if anyone else has had A similar experience and what caused/helped the problem. TIA.

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Daisy

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domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

14 Years

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Critical severity

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0 found helpful

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

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Weakness
Weakness Loss Of Appitit

My cat Daisy is 14 and diabetic. She began to be less interested in food and developed a cough. Went to the vet and had a chest xray. Long story short after about a week she became very weak and wobbly on her back legs. Low blood sugar?? Yes but the vet suggested further blood tests and because the Chest X ray showed shadows and we wanted to rule out everything we could. She tested for Fungi or Fungas. We really didn't expect it to come back positive we expected the worst. Cancer. BUT IT CAME BACK POSITIVE for ASPERGILLOSIS. Daisy has lost the ability to use her back end but can still feel it. Lameness is one of the symptoms of this infection. She is very sick and on bed rest and anti fungal meds and appetite stimulants. She is strictly an indoor cat but her diabetics an old age made her susceptible. I am working very hard to keep her alive and pray she will walk again. Hope this helps

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Princess

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house cat

dog-age-icon

1 Year

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

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Back Leg Wea

Hi. My friend just got a cat. Younger but age unknown. She knows that she birthed one large kitten awhile ago. Kitten did not survive. She’s been great since she got her 3 weeks ago. One week ago she noticed that the cat repeatedly moved and bunches up her back legs. She meows in pain when doing this. They aren’t paralyzed but she walks extremely weird when doing it.

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Jinxx

dog-breed-icon

Feline

dog-age-icon

1 Year

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

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Drag Back Legs

I have a 1 year old female that I have brought to her normal vet when she started limping on her left leg. Did not get answers at that visit other than restrict her movement so she can heal. She started getting worse and dragging her leg so and x ray of her left leg and hip was done and I was told that she had a tear in her cartilage and tendon in her upper knee and it would take 6 weeks to heal. She still continued to get worse so we brought her in she was able to control her bladder anymore so we thought she had a uti and she was fully dragging both back legs. No uti was the answer and her regular vet said she now did not think her legs where going to get better and we should think about putting her down. We did not except that and continued to look for answers. They also did blood work and it was normal. We decided to bring her in for emergency because her legs where still able to move but still not using but she had bad tremors in her back legs they looked for blood clots and did a urinanalysis still all came back normal nothing. Every doctor she had seen had mentioned it sounding like maybe neurological so where given recommendations to a couple the first one we went to and I called before going was orthopedic and not neurology even when I called told them about the problems with my cat and they said bring her in the doctor there said she did a check up but did not see anything orthopedic to be the problem more neurological. So we made a last a final attempt with a neurologist there they told us what everyone had said she is not in pain she is able to feel her rear legs but they believe something is attacking her spinal cord and in any tests being done we can not help her walk so we agreed to full body X-ray to see if tumors or cancer or any trauma which we originally thought but still nothing thousands of dollars later and still no answers other than keep doing what we are doing express her bladder and keep her as long as possible. So that’s what we are doing as long as she is happy eating and playing we are keeping her as long as possible.

Leg Paralysis Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$1,800

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