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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 28453
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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My 19 year old cat has been diagnosed with renal failure. He

Customer Question

My 19 year old cat has been diagnosed with renal failure. He receives an intravenous and a appetite stimulant at home because he stopped eating. Recently he started falling off of furniture and losing control of his rear legs. We were told that he has arthritis and may have a low potassium for which we are giving him a palatable potassium supplement but the condition seems to be worsening where he has lost motor skills is constipated and unable to walk. He drags himself to the litter pan and Falls over inside of it. What should we do?
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 9 months ago.

You're speaking with Dr. Michael Salkin. Welcome to JustAnswer. I'm currently typing up my reply.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 9 months ago.

I'm sorry to hear of this with Tutt. His behavior indicates far more serious disorders than arthritis. The two main differential diagnoses are a saddle thrombus - a blood clot in his aorta where the aorta divides into his hind legs; and myelopathy (spinal cord disorder) such as degenerative disk disease/a "slipped disk" or perhaps a tumor in or around Tutt's spinal cord. Please check Tutt's hind paw temperatures and compare them to his front paw temperatures. A saddle thrombus is likely to impair the circulation to the hind legs enough that the temperature of the hind paws will be noticeably cooler than that of the front paws. Please let me know what you find.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Thank you for your response doctor. My husband and I both checked temperatures in his front and back paws and they feel equal. Both seem normal temperature. Do you think it may have something to do with his potassium level being too low? The back paws are curling he cannot bear his own weight. The degeneration got progressively worse over the last 24 hours.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 9 months ago.

You're welcome. Thank you for checking. Hypokalemia (decreased serum potassium) usually manifests as smooth and skeletal muscle weakness, cervical ventroflexion (head curled down/can't raise it up), and even diaphragmatic and respiratory muscle failure leading to death. Potassium levels are usually less than 2.5 meq/L. I regret that my state board of veterinary examiners doesn't allow me to speak to customers by phone in this venue but other experts in this category may be able to assist you in this regard. Please let me know if you'd like another expert to do so and I'll opt out of this conversation. Please stay in the conversation if you wish.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
No its fine prefer to continue conversation. I'm going to go to the vet in the morning to get blood work done. If necessary can potassium be given intravenously to cats? I am giving the supplement 3 milliliters in a syringe daily.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 9 months ago.

It can be, yes, but your supplementing as you're doing should remove hypokalemia as a differential diagnosis for Tuff's apparent myelopathy. Please continue our conversation if you wish.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Should we go to emergency now or wait until morning? Its midnight in New York.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 9 months ago.

Pragmatically speaking, there's nothing an ER can do for Tutt that can't be done tomorrow. I believe that you're going to need to make a difficult decision then.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
If lab results show the potassium is normal then I would at least know that he has a greater problem that is not a simple answer
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 9 months ago.

Yes, that's correct. I can't set a follow-up in this venue so please return to our conversation - even after rating - with an update at your convenience. You can bookmark this page for ease of return.