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What is Neck and Back Pain?

If you are able to notice significant change in your cat's behavior that can indicate neck and back pain, then you should immediately take your pet to see a professional to gain an accurate diagnosis and come up with a treatment plan.

When your cat is experiencing any sort of discomfort along the spine, it is feeling neck or back pain. Neck and back pain ranges in intensity and is sometimes not easy to discern from other pain. For example, pain originating from the abdomen can sometimes be confused for pain in the back and vice versa. Since animals cannot clearly communicate their discomfort, it can be difficult to figure out exactly where the pain is and what may be causing it.

Neck and Back Pain Average Cost

From 547 quotes ranging from $300 - $4,000

Average Cost

$2,200

Symptoms of Neck and Back Pain in Cats

Cats can appear outwardly indifferent when something is irritating them, so signs of pain are not always apparent. Also, pain in one area can be mistaken for pain in another part of the body. It's important to pay close attention to how your cat behaves in order to determine if it is suffering from neck and back pain. Here are a few telltale signs to watch out for:

  • Stiffness in the neck
  • Arched back
  • Change in appetite
  • Vocalization (e.g. crying out when touched)
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Weakness in limbs
  • Change in posture/gait
  • Spine deformities
  • Inability or reluctance to turn head
  • Bruises around spine
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Causes of Neck and Back Pain in Cats

There are a few injuries, diseases, and other conditions that can cause neck and back pain. Common causes include:

  • Trauma (e.g. bite wounds, spinal fractures)
  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Organ disorders near the back causing referred pain (e.g. kidneys)
  • Vertebral disk disorders
  • Dislocations
  • Cancer
  • Inflammation/infection of the meninges (membranes that surround the spine and brain)
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Diagnosis of Neck and Back Pain in Cats

To diagnosis the issue, your veterinarian will perform a complete examination as well as conduct a full medical history. If the cause isn't obvious, such as the case with an injury, then your vet will perform a variety of other diagnostic tests. To search for signs of infections as well as check on the state of vital organs, a Complete Blood Count (CBC), urinalysis, urine culture, and a biochemical profile will be taken.

Abdominal X-rays will show if there are any abnormalities in the organs, while spinal radiographs will check the spinal canal, vertebrae, and the disks. The latter is typically performed when your cat is under general anesthesia or heavy sedation. Other tests may include myelography, CT scan, or MRI to identify trauma or cancer and EMG to diagnose or rule out muscle disorders. If meningitis or inflammatory infectious diseases are suspected, your vet will recommend a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis, which requires a spinal tap.

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Treatment of Neck and Back Pain in Cats

The exact treatment plan to manage and correct your cat's neck and back pain will be determined both after discovering the root cause and determining the severity of the discomfort. In some cases, back and neck pain can be simple to treat. Other times, however, treatment can be difficult, and it may take some time to see results.

Medication

Both pain and anti-inflammatory medication is usually given to help manage and treat pain. If your vet has discovered an infection, the treatment will include a round of antibiotics. The risk of side effects and relapse, especially with antibiotics, is high, however. Because of this, you should always consult with your vet before administering any medication. If cancer has been detected, chemotherapy drugs may be administered.

Surgery

There are some situations in which your cat's neck and back pain will require far more invasive intervention, like a surgical procedure. Surgery goes hand-in-hand with medication as your cat will typically receive some medication to help cope with pain and prevent infection following the procedure. Operations are recommended if your cat is suffering from very difficult ailments. Conditions that usually require surgery are ones that deal with spinal injury, cancer, infections in the vertebrae and disks, and in the case of paralysis.

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Recovery of Neck and Back Pain in Cats

If your cat has undergone any procedure, or if therapy has been recommended, it is important to closely monitor your cat's activities. Try to keep movement to a minimum and only what is suggested by your vet. Never allow your cat to perform any exercise that has not been approved by a professional. The outlook for cats that suffer from neck and back pain vary with the nature of the underlying condition. Also, when giving medication, always continue it as long as the vet prescribes to prevent complications or recurrence or infection or other issues.

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Neck and Back Pain Average Cost

From 547 quotes ranging from $300 - $4,000

Average Cost

$2,200

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Neck and Back Pain Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Cat pet

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11 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

Making Unusual Noises

Our beautiful cat started to make strange noises today. She seems to show discomfort in her back legs. She was totally fine until about this afternoon. Researching online for possible symptoms to address this properly. We dont want to see her in pain. Thank you in advance.

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. 22, 2020

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Short haired

dog-age-icon

2 and a half

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Hurts Along His Back At Bottom, Stools Were A Kitte Funnier Than Normal!

He doesn’t go out, I kept him a house cat, no one seen him get hurt. He’s always around me if not me then one of my children, (17yr & 18yr old) he is a bit over weight (killing him with kindness) & have been stopping giving in to his demands.. he likes to at times lay in the drawers under the divan beds, or in the cupboard.. other than that next to one of us..

Aug. 4, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If he is having GI issues, that may explain the area of pain that you are noticing. It is difficult for me to say what might be going on without being able to see him or know what his stools are like. If this continues, it would probably be best to have him seen by a veterinarian who can examine him, see what might be bothering him, and get any treatment for him that he might need. I hope that all goes well for him!

Aug. 4, 2020

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Derek

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Tuxedo

dog-age-icon

11 Years

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Head Drooping, Laying Down A Lot

It seems as though my cat, Derek can’t hold his head up. He is not meowing in pain, he purrs when I pet him, and he doesn’t cry if I pick him up. He eats normal, though he seems to change position a lot while he’s eating. We don’t know what brought this on. He was fine when we went to bed but was this way when we woke up.

Sept. 25, 2018

Derek's Owner

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Felix

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mixed

dog-age-icon

1 Year

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Pain

My 1 year old cat came home about a week ago with a scratch on her eye and her mouth was cut, she would not let me stroke her, but still stayed close and ate as normal. She has been ok recently and comes for regular cuddles and fusses, but if I go near the middle of her back she goes to bite me. Not sure what I should do with her? She is ok otherwise! Thanks

Aug. 14, 2018

Felix's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Since this problem seems related and to not be resolving, it would be a good idea to have an examination for Felix with a veterinary, as they can see her, see what might be going on that is causing her pain, and get any treatment that she might need.

Aug. 14, 2018

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Smokey

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tabby

dog-age-icon

13 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Neck Pain

Like all cats mine loves when run your fingernails across her jaw and down her neck, while lightly scratching her head and neck during petting her I noticed she pulled away when I touch the left side of her neck, this is a new reaction. Her neck might feel a little different on that side too.

Aug. 4, 2018

Smokey's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

If Smokey seems to be sensitive on that side of her neck, it would be a good idea to keep a close eye on that area to see if her sensitivity resolves or worsens. If it isn't improving, it would be a good idea to have her examined by a veterinarian, as they can see her and see what might be happening with her.

Aug. 4, 2018

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Graves

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American Shorthair

dog-age-icon

1 Year

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

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Overactive
Spine Sensitivity
Attacks Tail

My 1 year old short haired black cat doesn't like to be pet, picked up, or brushed. He's fine when I lightly rub his head but anything along the spine he's very vocal about. When we try and brush him he hisses and waddles away. He's too young for old age issues. He's very active when we play with him and he has a wet and dry food diet. He eats a lot but maintains himself at 9lbs. He often bites himself or aggressively attacks his own tail. Could he have some form of hyperesthesia?

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Princeton

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Domestic shorthair

dog-age-icon

12 Years

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

Shaking
Hiding
Very Alert
Angry Meow When Picked Up

My cat got very scared tonight by a loud noise and he took off running. It turns out that he missed the step and he went face first into the step above and did basically a flip. Ever since he's been hiding and when we pick him up he's shaking. I'm very worried about him. Any advice on what I should do?

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Sissy

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Cat

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4 Weeks

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

Neck And Head Bent Over

She fell off of top bunk hits bottom bunk her mama put it on there every since she's been holding her head way over and walking in circles and Mom is refusing to feed her now

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Boober

dog-breed-icon

American Shorthair

dog-age-icon

9 Years

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

Lethargy
Back Pain
Sensitive Spine

Boober, he's about 9 years old. Up until a few months ago, he enjoyed his share of rough-housing and running around. I could pick him up, and he would just flop and enjoy being cradled. Lately, he has become lethargic. He meows and seems sensitive when he's handled from his waist down, especially his lower back. Do you think this is arthritis? Or some kind of injury? Or perhaps just his age?

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Kripsis

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Unknown mix

dog-age-icon

8 Years

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

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Stiffness, Pain And Weakne
Stiffness, Pain And Weakness

So we went to the vet with my cat a few days ago, but he already has dirty ears. When I call him he sometimes doesn't respond (he responds all the time till this week). After watching a few cat videos I'm scared that he might have a neck and a back injury. He used to run outside all the time, but now he is just sleeping. And he coughs a lot. I do not know what to do... I'm scared to let him out side because of the goxes in my neighborhood. And I'm scared to go to the vet because he could get put down like my 9 year old Germansheperd 6 years ago... She had 2 cancers-one in her front leg and the second in her lungs... What should I do???

Neck and Back Pain Average Cost

From 547 quotes ranging from $300 - $4,000

Average Cost

$2,200

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