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Dr. Scarlett
Dr. Scarlett, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 4110
Experience:  I am a practicing small animal veterinarian with 18 years experience.
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My cat is 9ish years old, female, spayed, and mostly indoors.

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My cat is 9ish years old, female, spayed, and mostly indoors. She suddenly is having issues with her hind legs, where she wobbles when she walks or her hind end collapses and doesn't jump or climb stairs any more, but still tries to. When I picked her up and gingerly felt her, I received no adverse reactions and didn't notice any swelling or obvious injuries. She has been like this for about 36 hours, her appetite is normal, and appears to still be using the litter box. I thought maybe arthritis, but this came on very quick, so that doesn't make sense. Suggestions?

Dr. Scarlett :


Dr. Scarlett :

Any change in the amount she is drinking? Was she outside prior to this weird walking behavior ("ataxia")? Any plants or medications she might have gotten into? Is she otherwise acting normally--responsive to your voice, alert, etc?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

She has gone out side, but stayed on the deck. She is 80% responsive to my voice. Usually she wakes me up in the morning with nonstop meowing at my door to be fed, but not this morning. I had to go find her, pick her up and take her to her food dish. Once there she ate all of her food and drank water. I haven't noticed if the amount of water she has drank is less than usual.

So it sounds like there is more going on than just the weakness/ataxia in her hind end. I'm worried bcause she also sounds lethargic and not completely responsive to your voice. Are you able to take her temperature rectally? It should be around 101.5.

There are a lot of different things that could be causing the ataxia. Because it is sudden, I don't think it is arthritis, but possibly a protrusion of an intervertebral disk (although this is very uncommon in cats). Sadly, lymphoma, a type of cancer, can cause sudden changes like this and is fairly common in cats.

A blood clot is a possibility and cats often have underlying heart disease that isn't easily picked up on a physical exam.

If she does have a fever, some types of infection can cause lethargy and weakness. There is also a disease called FIP--feline infectious peritonitis that can cause neurologic problems. This is a mutation of a feline corona virus that can lay dormant for years, so even though she is an older cat, it is a possibility.

Definitely, if she isn't any better tomorrow (and probably even if she is), I would take her to your regular vet in the morning. Anticipate x-rays and bloodwork, along with a complete physical exam. BUT, if she seems to be getting worse, I would take her to an emergency vet today.
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