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What is Vertebral Disc Inflammation?

Although IVDD is rarely seen in felines, it is a serious condition that must be addressed by a veterinarian.

A hunched posture, muscle spasms or inactive behavior could be an indication of vertebral disc inflammation, a painful condition for cats. Though various conditions can lead to vertebral disc inflammation, the most common cause is intervertebral disk disease (IVDD), a progressive disease of the spinal column that can result in spinal nerve and cord compressions. A cat with IVDD has either had the cushioning, fibrocartilaginous tissue of the intervertebral disc enlarge or herniate, which in turn causes the spinal column compressions. When a cat jumps on and off of furniture, or is handled roughly, the shock-absorbing discs of tissue found between the bones of the spine could be compromised. 

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Vertebral Disc Inflammation Average Cost

From 463 quotes ranging from $500 - $4,000

Average Cost

$1,200

Symptoms of Vertebral Disc Inflammation in Cats

Vertebral Disc Inflammation in cats is typically  first noted by pet owners during a petting session, as the most common sign associated with this disease is localized neck or back pain. The cat may vocalize, bite, or scratch owners as pressure is placed on the inflamed disc. The spinal column houses the body’s nerves which controls movement of the entire body, therefore, these additional symptoms may be present in a cat with IVDD:  

  • Holding the head low to the ground
  • Unwillingness to jump
  • Reluctant to stand or sit down
  • Odd or unsteady gait
  • Overall body stiffness and/or weakness
  • Toe, foot or leg dragging in one/all limbs.
  • Hunched or arched posture
  • Abdominal tenderness
  • Crying out when touched
  • Inappropriate urination or defecation
  • Trembling
  • Localized paralysis
  • Incontinence
  • Sudden collapse 

Types 

There are two types of Vertebral Disc Inflammation that cats can develop:

  • Type I: Type I IVDD is characterized by a herniated or slipped disc with a sudden development of symptoms. Type I disc disease can occur in felines of any age or breed, but it is commonly seen in dwarfed breed types. 
  • Type II: Type II IVDD is characterized by a degenerative protrusion of the intervertebral disc that occurs as the feline grows older. Type II IVDD is commonly seen in cats between the ages of eight to 10 years.
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Causes of Vertebral Disc Inflammation in Cats

Vertebral disc inflammation can be caused by a variety of reasons including; a result of previous injury, a genetic mutation, old age, obesity, illness and unknown reasons.

Type I IVDD

In Type I IVDD, the outer layer of the intervertebral disc calcifies and hardens, damaging the supportive disc. The calcification around the intervertebral disc turns the collagenous, shock absorbing disk into a fragile tissue between vertebrae that can be easily damaged upon impact (when a cat jumps and lands). The calcification of an intervertebral disc can be caused by:

  • Genetic Mutation: Mutations in a cat’s DNA caused by breeding that have caused a curvature in the spine. This spine curvature is often noted in the tail and identified as Bobtail, Corkscrew (piggy), Kinked tails, Ringtail or Manx.
  • Hyperparathyroidism: Hyperparathyroidism is characterized as an abnormally high concentrations of the hormone parathyroid released into the blood. The excessive amount of the hormone results in a calcium deficiency, which in turn causes the bones to weaken.
  • Old age
  • Unknown reasons

Type II IVDD

In Type II IVDD, the intervertebral discs deteriorate over time, hardening and breaking down as the cat reaches causing the spine to compress.

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Diagnosis of Vertebral Disc Inflammation in Cats

If you notice any of the above symptoms, especially localized pain or dragging of the limbs, your cat is likely suffering from IVDD.  Diagnosis of IVDD in cats will begin with a physical examination performed by a veterinarian. He or she may perform a sensory function test to locate neurological signs of lost motor control. A sensory test is a simple examination, as the veterinarian will simply pinch the toes and tail of your cat to encourage a pain response.

During this physical examination, the veterinarian will need to know your feline’s medical history and any unusual behavior you have noticed. Helpful information you can provide includes:

  • The symptoms you have noticed at home
  • When you first noticed a change in your cat’s behavior or symptoms, and for how long.
  • Your feline’s normal activity levels
  • Past history of injury if any
  • Current medications and change in medication

Knowing this information can help the veterinarian establish the problem and determine the best next step in the diagnosis. To confirm the diagnosis of IVDD, the veterinarian may perform an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), CT (computed tomography), myelography and/or x-rays.

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Treatment of Vertebral Disc Inflammation in Cats

Cats which minimal pain and moderate signs can often recover within a few weeks with conservative care. Ask your veterinarian about anti-inflammatory and steroidal drugs that can discourage intervertebral swelling. Treating IVDD with conservative care has proven to be very effective if the pet owner can provide cage rest for the feline.

In cats with severe neurological symptoms, such as limb dragging or incontinence, emergency surgery must be performed to alleviate spinal cord pressure. A procedure called a laminectomy is often performed, which is a procedure involving removal of the lamina to relieve the compressed pressure.

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Recovery of Vertebral Disc Inflammation in Cats

Cats receiving conservative care can recover within a few weeks, however about 30% of these felines will have their symptoms recur and managing the condition may be a lifelong process. Cats which have received emergency surgery have a strong positive outlook of a full recovery if the surgery was performed within 48 hours of pain perception loss. If the surgery is delayed longer than this period of time, the chances of permanent damage increases.

A large majority of cats that have been diagnosed with IVDD also suffer from muscle spasms. Physical therapy and prescribed medical treatment can alleviate these spams, so talking with your pet doctor as soon as symptoms arise will help your cat’s condition.

Proper nursing care at home and in the veterinary office is the key to improving quality of life for those cats diagnosed with IVDD. Catching signs and symptoms early can increase the chances of your feline’s complete recovery, so do not hesitate to contact a veterinarian as soon as you notice chances in your cat.

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Vertebral Disc Inflammation Average Cost

From 463 quotes ranging from $500 - $4,000

Average Cost

$1,200

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Vertebral Disc Inflammation Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Puffy

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long hair

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

Urinating Outside Litterbox

On August 7 my kitty, out of nowhere seemed unwell. As the day went on he was having a hard time squatting to poop or pee in the litter box. Only coin size drops were coming out. Rushed him to the hospital midnight of Aug 8 and did all sorts of blood and urine testing. Nothing could be determined. Vets were able to get full stream of urine when they pushed on him. Sent home. August 8-9 kitty couldn't walk. Had poor mobility. He had an Xray that showed he has a calcified disk in his L6. He was prescribed Gabapentin and Robaxin for relief. Along with Metacam as needed. Since about August 9 he has been on it. He is almost walking up right again and feeling much better. He has started to poop in the litter box but he will not and cannot urinate in there. He hasn't used the litter box in well over a week. He still pees himself throughout the day to which I am cleaning him up. There is no pain or discomfort but I am concerned as to why the pee? He drinks plenty of water on his partial canned/raw diet but the one thing we can't control is him peeing himself. Is this a result of the calficied disc or the medicine? I contacted my vet today and she said to keep giving the kitty Gabapentin and Robaxin "as needed". However, I am not sure if this is curing the issue of incontinence? I am worried as I have to be out of the house full time next week and don't want kitty sitting in his own urine. Should he be in diapers until this resolves itself? What type of treatment is required for an L6 calcification? He is a happy 8 year old kitty who otherwise has a clean bill of health (he's had 3 different exams to prove it)

Aug. 17, 2018

Puffy's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

It is difficult to say what the cause of the urination might be, but if he has a spinal problem caused by the calcification, it may be causing neurologic problems that are presenting as inappropriate urination. If you have to be out of the house for any length of time next week, it may be best to confine Puffy while you're gone. Diapers will only hold the urine closer to his body and cause sores.

Aug. 18, 2018

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dog-name-icon

Kitty Frida jaco

dog-breed-icon

Not sure

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10 Months

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

Dragging Back Legs,
Hip And Legs Hurt
Legs Don’T Move

My cat is only a year old and about 2 weeks ago she started limping 1 week ago she started dragging her legs. We took her to the vet last week and he said she has a herniated disk he gave her a steroid shot but she still isn’t using her back legs I’m not sure how I could help her because the surgery is too expensive is there anything I could do to help her besides the surgery or is their a place that’s free I could take her.

July 12, 2018

Kitty Frida jaco's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

If Kitty Frida doesn't have any use of her back end, there is not very much that can be done to help her besides the surgery that has been recommended, sadly. Typically if animals have a disc problem, if it doesn't respond within about 24 hours and start using the legs more and more, the chances of recovery become less likely with more time. It would be a good idea to call your veterinarian and see what other options there are for her, if any. I'm sorry that is happening to her, she is so young.

July 13, 2018

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Vertebral Disc Inflammation Average Cost

From 463 quotes ranging from $500 - $4,000

Average Cost

$1,200

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