Paralysis in animals is a much feared condition among pet lovers and induces a great amount of worry. In cats, there can be various reasons for paralysis in different breeds. The following are the types of paralysis that could affect a cat and their possible causes.
Hind Leg Paralysis
This is a condition where the hind legs of a cat are affected, but the front legs function normally. This is usually caused by an embolism, where a blood clot or a blob of fat tissue travels along the blood stream and blocks the aorta in the heart. This often happens in a condition known as feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or FHC. This makes it difficult for the blood to reach the hind legs, leading to sudden paralysis.
This is more commonly seen in cases of dogs. In cats, it is caused when the laryngeal muscles of the larynx (also known as the voice-box) collapse. This makes it difficult for them to breathe and also increases the risk of their choking on food. They are also unable to bear heat or exercise as they don't get enough air in their lungs. The signs of this condition are a change in their voice, gagging especially while eating, difficult and noisy breathing, and inability to withstand excessive heat. It also impairs their body movements to a great degree. The exact cause of this disorder is yet to be known.
Radial Nerve Paralysis
This is caused by an injury to the radial nerve which controls movement of the cat's frontal limbs. It runs from the elbow to the paw in a cat's anterior limbs. The symptom of this condition is that the cat walks with a limp or drags it's wounded front foot along and is unable to move it much. It can be due to an injury caused to the radial nerve or a clot or tumor forming in and around the radial nerve area.
Spinal Trauma Paralysis
A sudden paralysis could be caused by a spinal cord injury that may have occurred due to a fall or some other accident. The spinal cord is the nerve center of the body, and any damage to it can have serious repercussions including complete or partial paralysis. A spinal blood clot or embolism is also possible in rare cases which could cause the same condition. A cancer in the spinal area may also lead to paralysis. This is usually the most serious of conditions and may require surgery to get cured.
Ticks are tiny blood sucking parasites that can cause paralysis in felines, especially if one has been feeding on the cat for a long time. Ticks are poisonous and secrete neurotoxins from their salivary glands into the cat's bloodstream, ultimately causing paralysis. The symptoms of tick poisoning include loss of appetite, vomiting, difficulty in breathing, and weakness in the limbs. It might be difficult for it to meow and it's pupils usually becomes dilated during such a trauma. You should look for ticks and remove them as soon as you find them, using tweezers to hold their heads and pluck them out.
Treatment of paralysis depends on the type and its corresponding symptoms. If a cat shows signs of thromboembolism, then it is given anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory injections. Surgery is also an option, especially if it involves a tumor or a spinal cord injury. In cases of tick paralysis, the cat is given an antiserum. It may also be put on a saline drip and given oxygen if it is displaying difficulty in eating or breathing.
Paralysis in cats can be one of the toughest health problems to deal with if not detected early. In some cases, you might even lose your pet if the condition is overlooked or neglected for a long time. Take adequate care of your cat, check for any problem in body movements, and report any signs of illness or weakness to your veterinarian immediately. After all, your pets depend on you just as you depend on them.