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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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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

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Guinness

dog-breed-icon

domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

15 Years

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

Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

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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3320 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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Moderate severity

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

Moderate severity

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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3320 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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Bobbob

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Domestic shorthair

dog-age-icon

10 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

Not Able To Chew

My cat is having trouble eating hard food and even some soft. Three different vets have looked at his teeth and say that they are fine. He was able to eat treats a couple of weeks ago but now turns those down.........Could this be neuromuscular

May 31, 2018

Bobbob's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Without being able to examine Bobbob or assess his mouth, I"m not sure if the problem is tooth related, or if he has a problem with his jaw. Since you have had him seen by 2 veterinarians, it would be best to follow up with one of them, let them know that the problem isn't getting better, and see what the next step is towards figuring out what is going on with him. Sometimes a problem will progress to the point where we have additional clues to help us, and they may be able to find something that they didn't see weeks ago.

May 31, 2018

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Prim

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tabby

dog-age-icon

1 Year

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

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Wheezing

Hi my cat like tenses up while sleeping every few seconds. I’ve noticed her doing it a lot in the past week. She doesn’t seem to be in any pain. Read more at: https://wagwalking.com/cat/condition/neuromuscular-disorders

March 21, 2018

Prim's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

There are a variety of different causes for tensing, twitching and other similar symptoms; central nervous system disorders, tumours, traumatic injury, poisoning, medication side effects among other causes may lead to these symptoms. You should record Prim sleeping and visiting your Veterinarian to review the video and to perform a thorough examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

March 21, 2018

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Beeboo

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Cat

dog-age-icon

2 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Weakness
Vomiting
Lethargy,
Weakness In Extremities

I have a 2yo cat he he has had trouble jumping on things on and off the last year. I Yesterday he seemed weak and I had to help him up on couch. I saw him vomit some bile yesterday. Today I have seen him vomit 3 times. Always a small amount of bile. He is very lethargic and can't walk more than a few feet without sitting down.I watched him go to the bathroom and the bm looks normal. He did seem to be very uncomfortable when going. To me it wasn't the bm but more of the position he gets in to go. He seems really sore. He is an indoor cat.he did eat a small amount of the broth like cat food today. Haven't noticed him drinking yet.

Feb. 18, 2018

Beeboo's Owner


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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. Without being able to examine Beeboo, I can't comment on what might be going on with him. It would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian today. They will be able to examine him, determine what might be going on, and give him and treatment or supportive care that he might need. I hope that he is okay.

Feb. 18, 2018

I have a question. Can cat's feel sick and vomit bile due to pain from other issues. For example a back injury. I feel like he may have hurt his back a while ago and was to active or maybe fell again recently. About a year ago I noticed one day that he was weak in hind legs. After a few days he seemed back to himself. I thought maybe he fell did something to his back then. He is kinda clumsy and he has another cat that he plays with.

Feb. 18, 2018

Beeboo's Owner


I live in a rural area and no vets have been available today and all I have called said give us a call Monday. I am just worried he can't walk a few feet without laying down/resting. Google is not your friend with these symptoms. I'm just so worried. Thanks

Feb. 18, 2018

Beeboo's Owner

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Dazzle

dog-breed-icon

mixed

dog-age-icon

8 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

Muscle Loss
Not Walking

Hi I have a 8yo cat, shes unable to walk on her forelimbs, due to muscle loss. her MRI and blood test is normal, her X-ray shows neck compression,she's undergoing light therapy and acupuncture now but no progress yet. Her condition has been like this since a month now. She eats well, but shes still in pain. just is not able to move anywhere. her hind body seems to be fine just the forelimbs muscles are losing. In the past she use to get in sleep frightened and jump off the bed due to which she injured the internal forelimb muscle as suggested by vet.But no progress with the current treatment

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Spencer

dog-breed-icon

Siamese

dog-age-icon

9 Years

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

Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Muscle Atrophy

My male siamese cat stopped eating when he was about a year old and was loosing weight. After ultrasound was diagnosed with inflamatory bowel disease and started on steroids. He put weight on again and was health for approx five years then slowly has lost muscle tone in his back legs to the point that the muscles are completely wasted. The vet hospital could not come up with any diagnosis. He is an indoor cat, still on steroids and manages to get around, is continent and pain free though continuing to worsen Is this a side effect of steroids or something else?

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Jax

dog-breed-icon

Mix

dog-age-icon

7 Weeks

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

Serious severity

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

I could use real help fast!! I have a kitten a couple months old found in a extremely hot shed alone a month ago almost. When i first got it i began milk he acted hungry but wouldnt eat. He began siezures 5-6 a day and would try to walk in a circle always to the left. I got him taking the bottle the morning after i got him hoping he was dehydrated and overheated. The siezures got stronger and more often, usually when i laid him down. If i held him he didnt have them if he did they were small and quick. He went to vet he was dehydrated he got fluids and atibiotics. He came home more alert that day and the next he was able to stay awake a little and even tried to walk. That nite the siezures began again for two days i just held him so they werent bad. Then they stopped. He was still taking a bottle only an ounce every few hours he even began chewing instead of sucking. We tried canned food he ate it once. He is like a ragdoll he moves his arms around even pushes on the bottle and is jjst starting to try to lick them. His legs he can push himself off if he wants away but usually he just does small pushes to wiggle around. His head he is holding up for a few minutes now at a time and stays awake a few minutes to maybe 5 minutes. But he still often just passes out all of a sudden goes limp and its hard to wake him. He also still needs help to go to the bathroom and is always constipated even with syrup in the milk. Hes never meowed only squeaked 5 times just learned to purr a bit just learning to bathe his paws and pooped twice on his own. He gets scared easy sometimes when he gets woke up even kinda biting real easy at me or his blanket. Usually he is just a ragdoll.

dog-name-icon

Butters

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

We have a 9 year old cat named Butters hes always goofy he stumbles around any time he tries to move seems to have very poor muscle control but doesn't seem to be inner ear his head it doesn't wobble or shake or is not held in a funny angle We've taken him to the vet twice he was first treated for pancreatitis took him back cuz he still had no muscle control they treated him for inner ear infection he still has no muscle control but I don't think it's inner ear related cuz he doesn't wobble his head or hold it at a weird angle he just doesn't have control of his limbs that will luckily he still makes it to the litter box the poor little trooper is strong good boy Butters he actually just finished his lunch to get him to eat reliably I have to hold him in my lap and feed him soft food he doesn't seem to have a big appetite for hard food anymore

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Naunet

dog-breed-icon

dsh

dog-age-icon

7 Months

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

Stiffness

I have a young kitten with known traumatic brain injury from being bitten on the skull at 5-6 weeks old. She survived the skull fractures, the following enucleation, and the following month of neglect from the original owners. I took her as a surrender (I'm on staff at a veterinary hospital) and have been doing absolutely everything in my power to make her comfortable. Now she is 3.14 pounds at 7 months old and was presumably stunted by their lack of syringe-feeding when she was unable to find food (she had dropped to 0.6# from 1.1#). She still has significant mental delays and possible issues with malabsorption, issues regulating her sodium levels, as well as physical abnormalities from the incident. My question is, is there anything aside from weekly therapeutic laser that I can do to help her? She has ventroflexion of the head, hunched posture and walks with her stifles turned inward..and issues with contracted tendons in her front paws (my doctor and I assume, as her toes get "stuck" upward and she walks on her metacarpal pads). After her laser treatments she can run quite well, but the stiffness always returns. Mentally, she is a playful creature but has lost much of a normal cat's behavior, and sometimes has moments of aggression when being manipulated or carried.

Neuromuscular Disorders Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$1,100

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