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Dr.Fiona, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 6273
Experience:  16 years experience as a companion animal veterinarian in British Columbia, California and Ontario
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out of the blue my cats back legs and tail became paralyzed

Customer Question

out of the blue my cats back legs and tail became paralyzed then went away only to have his left paw become useless now everything works ok but hes lethargic
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Dr. Debbie replied 8 years ago.

Let me ask a few questions:


How old is your cat?

Is it an indoor or outdoor cat?

Has he had any ticks on him recently?

Can he put any weight on the left paw?


Dr. Debbie

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
8 years indoor cat none found the paw is fine now
Expert:  Dr. Debbie replied 8 years ago.

To just affect one leg and the tail would most likely be an injury. Other things that cause paralysis can be things such as a tick or a blood clot but it would affect more than one leg.


If your cat is able to use the bathroom normally, especially with a bowel movement then the nerves are working by the tail. You can actually use some tweezers and pinch gently the skin by the rectum to see if it flinches, meaning the nerve is okay. If it seems loose and doesn't flinch, then that is a problem.


You can also pinch the toes to see if he can draw his foot away. If he does, that is good.


If his appetite is good, and he seems bright and alert, and he seems to have reflexes, he probably will be just fine.


Dr. Debbie

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

dear debbie when i touched his bum near his scrotum he kinda lost his mind and flinched


Expert:  Dr. Debbie replied 8 years ago.
That's good! It means his nerve function is just fine back there. That is the biggest concern and it sounds like he is in good shape there.
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 8 years ago.

Hi there,

Dr.Debbie has given some great advice on checking nerve function in your boy. One of the other things she mentioned was a blood clot (also called a thrombus). I just wanted to give you a bit more information about this.


Most often these blood clots are caused by underlying heart disease. I don't know if your boy has a heart murmur, but even without an audible murmur your boy could still have heart disease, but so mild there was no murmur. Let me explain....


When I hear a murmur while auscultating the heart, it tells me that there is turbulent blood flow within the heart. Think of a stream - if it is flowing smoothly, you can hardly hear it. But if there are lots of rocks and a waterfall, there is turbulence and now you can hear it.


The same is true of the heart. When there is turbulent blood flow, a blood clot or thromboembolus may form. Your boy may have a very soft murmur that could not be heard, but was still causing clots. This blood clot can leave the heart in the large blood vessels exiting the heart, but then get stuck in many of the smaller blood vessels leaving those major arteries. When this happens, it can cut off blood supply to a limb. Suddenly the cat limps on that limb and is very painful.


Think of wrapping an elastic band tightly around your finger. Pretty quickly it becomes painful and it is hard to use the finger. This is essentially the same thing that happens when a thrombus blocks blood supply to a cat's limb.


On exam, these kitties present with pain and limping. If the clot has gone to the right front leg (the first "exit" from the major arteries) that foot will be colder than the others and the nail beds will be blue. The blood clot may lodge in the caudal vena cava, which is a major blood vessel leading to both back legs. If it has completely blocked ALL of the blood to the back legs and tail, then the cat will not be able to use the back legs but will drag them around and will be in severe pain. Also, the pads will be notably cool, the nail beds will be blue and the cat will not have pulses on the back legs. This carries a grave prognosis. If your boy had a smaller clot, it may have just temporarily affected blood supply to the back legs, and then moved on to the front leg. My concern is whether there is still a blood clot floating around in his blood stream!


Early treatment involves drugs to stop more clots from forming - the choices are aspirin or coumadin (rodenticide, rat poison, warfarin). Unfortunately, if there is a major clot to both back legs, treatment may not be possible.

Here is more about thrombus formation in cats:


And more about Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy which is the most common heart problem in cats, and the most common reason they develop blood clots:


If this is a blood clot, then early treatment is absolutely necessary before the clots gets lodged somewhere permanently. Thus, I would strongly recommend that you contact a vet IMMEDIATELY and take your kitty in right away.


The above is given for information only. Although I am a licensed veterinarian, I cannot legally prescribe medicines or diagnose your pet's condition without performing a physical exam. If you have concerns about your pet I would strongly advise contacting your regular veterinarian.




Dr.Fiona, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 6273
Experience: 16 years experience as a companion animal veterinarian in British Columbia, California and Ontario
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