Neuromuscular Disorders in Cats

Neuromuscular Disorders in Cats - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost
Neuromuscular Disorders in Cats - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What are Neuromuscular Disorders?

A number of conditions can affect the complex network of nerves that direct your cat's muscles. Cats with these nerve-muscle disorders may exhibit strange behavior such as spastic movements and spontaneous contractions. Consult your veterinarian if you believe your cat has a disorder affecting her nerves and muscles, as early intervention is important for treatment or management of these neuromuscular conditions in cats.

Two main components of your cat's nervous system are the brain and the peripheral nerves. The peripheral nerves send signals from the brain to your cat's organs and extremities to regulate all the processes that keep her alive. Some peripheral nerves control involuntary processes such as digestion, breathing and heart rate. Others send voluntary signals, such as those used for walking or playing with a toy. 

Neuromuscular Disorders Average Cost

From 405 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,100

Symptoms of Neuromuscular Disorders in Cats

There are a number of neuromuscular disorders that affect cats, but most manifest similar symptoms. Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian immediately if your cat exhibits one of the following symptoms of neuromuscular disorders in cats:

  • Seizures
  • Muscle weakness
  • Paralysis
  • Absence of reflexes (hyporeflexia)
  • Uncoordinated movements
  • Loss of muscle tone (hypotonia)
  • Loss of control of body movements (ataxia)
  • Weakness after physical exertion
  • Crouched stance

Types

The following are the most common types of neuromuscular disorders in cats: 

  • Motor neuron disease: Involves the death of nerve cells that control skeletal muscles.
  • Tetanus: Unusual in cats, causes stiff paralysis in an extremity upon infection.
  • Diabetic polyneuropathy: Affects cats with diabetes whose blood sugars are poorly controlled. These cats experience paralysis and atrophy that progresses over time.
  • Drug-induced neuropathies: Affect cats who have been exposed to a toxic chemical, such as fertilizers or chemotherapy, that damages nerves.
  • Myasthenia gravis: leads to tremors, stiff muscles, spinal flexion, and labored breathing from paralysis in the larynx. Myasthenia gravis is an inherited neuromuscular disorder.
  • Muscular dystrophy: affects male cats and manifests with  excessive production of saliva, hopping while running, stiff neck, vomiting, and difficulty exercising.
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Causes of Neuromuscular Disorders in Cats

There are many causes of neuromuscular disorders in cats. Some conditions are inherited or congenital (present at birth), while others are acquired after trauma or infection with a bacteria, virus or parasite. Once your veterinarian diagnoses your cat, he can explain the possible causes of that particular neuromuscular disorder in more detail.

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Diagnosis of Neuromuscular Disorders in Cats

Your veterinarian will begin the diagnostic process with a thorough physical examination of your cat, including the collection of a comprehensive history. If a veterinarian suspects your cat is suffering from a neuromuscular disorder, this physical examination will include an evaluation of the cat's gait for weakness, limping, stumbling, tripping or walking in circles. A righting test, whereby a cat is placed on its back and observed as it recovers its standing position, is often performed to test coordination. A wheelbarrow test offers insights into the functioning of your cat's front legs. 

Your veterinarian will also palpate the neck and front legs to search for areas of pain or loss of muscle tone. The trunk and hind quarters may be evaluated for abnormal posture or muscle tone. Your veterinarian may also inquire into the recent whereabouts or dietary habits of your cat. 

Several laboratory tests are appropriate for the diagnosis of neuromuscular disorders in cats. Blood tests may be ordered to rule out exposure to a neurotoxic substance. Myasthenia gravis and infections can also be detected using blood tests. 

A spinal tap involves the removal of cerebrospinal fluid from the base of a cat's skull. Depending on your cat's symptoms, a culture of spinal fluid may be ordered to indicate cancer, encephalitis, infection, or internal bleeding related to trauma. An electromyogram (EMG), which tracks the transduction of electrical impulses through the nerves, is another useful tool in the diagnostic process.

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Treatment of Neuromuscular Disorders in Cats

Treatment options for neuromuscular disorders in cats vary as greatly as their causes. Infections will be treated with antibiotic, antifungal, antiparasitic, or antiviral drugs. Surgery may be appropriate to repair a nerve-muscle junction that has undergone some trauma.

For conditions that cannot be cured, anticonvulsant, anti-inflammatory or steroid medication can be used to manage symptoms. Only your veterinarian is qualified to prescribe medications for your cat or alter her treatment plan.

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Worried about the cost of Neuromuscular Disorders treatment?

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Recovery of Neuromuscular Disorders in Cats

Some forms of neuromuscular disease will resolve quickly with treatment, while others will require lifelong management. Cats with persistent paralysis may be candidates for a wheelchair. Certain medications may also be administered to relieve pain, inflammation or convulsions. Regardless of the particulars of your cat's condition and treatment plan, follow-up appointments are a cornerstone of management for these cats to track recovery and rehabilitation or recommend environmental or behavioral changes to better manage your cat's condition.

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Neuromuscular Disorders Average Cost

From 405 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,100

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Neuromuscular Disorders Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Guinness

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domestic short hair

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15 Years

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0 found helpful

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0 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Lack Of Muscle Control

My cat is experiencing some wobbling movements as if he is unable to control his rear legs. His mri and spinal tap were normal. He takes medication for a thyroid condition and insulin for diabetes. Not sure where to seek more help

July 17, 2018

Guinness' Owner

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0 Recommendations

There are various conditions which may affect a cat’s gait including age related conditions, spinal issues, hip issues, cerebellar disorders among other conditions; without examining Guinness it is difficult to pinpoint a specific causes especially if the MRI (assuming full body) and spinal tap were clear. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 18, 2018

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Samantha

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None

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17 Years

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2 found helpful

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2 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Back Legs Flop Violently

My approximately 17 yo cat has twice (that I have witnessed) awakened, tried to get up, and her back legs have violently flopped her whole body from side to side. After just 2 or 3 seconds the episode is over she gets up and walks away as if nothing has happened.

July 1, 2018

Samantha's Owner

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2 Recommendations

Most likely this is age related, however it is difficult to say for certain whether or not there is something else going on; spinal disorders, hip disorders among other conditions may lead to similar swaying when standing. I would keep an eye on Samantha for the time being and bring it up with your Veterinarian at her next checkup. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 1, 2018

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Neuromuscular Disorders Average Cost

From 405 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,100

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