Cat with neurological disorder - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-21-2009, 06:03 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Guelph, Ontario
Posts: 2
Cat with neurological disorder

Hi everyone,

I'm new to the forum, and I have joined because I'm desperately seeking some advice for my cat.

A year and a half ago, my husband and I brought two kittens into our home (sisters), they were 6 weeks old when we got them. They are beautiful cats with amazing personalities, and now they are almost 20 months old. One of the cats (Smeagol) grew at a much faster rate, and it quickly became clear that she had a weight problem. By the time they were 1 year, and just off kitten food, Smeagol weighed about 15 pounds. We decided to cut back on her food, and have only been feeding her 1/2 cup food per day for the last 8 months. Unfortunately, she still hasn't lost any weight. But she seemed happy and healthy, so we weren't too concerned.

Then, about two months ago, Smeagol started wiping her bum on the rug. We talked to the vet about this, and he said she likely had swollen anal glands. It wasn't a big deal, and he suggested that we massage her anal glands every now and again to help.

Last Saturday, we went away for Easter and returned the next day, so we were only gone for about 24 hours. When we came back, we noticed that Smeagol wasn't walking right. She was having trouble jumping up on the bathtub and the bed, but we didn't think too much of it. The next day, she had lost the use of her back legs. She had resorted to walking with her front paws and dragging her back legs behind her. We took her to the vet the following day and after a physical examination, he said he was 85% sure she had torn a ligament in her knee. He told us to go home and wait a week to see if there were any improvements. During the week, she completely stopped moving. She just sleeps all the time, she won't eat anything or drink anything. We've been giving her water with a syringe, but otherwise, she wouldn't drink anything. We went to the vet again today for a follow up exam. She has now lost the use of all four limbs, but she does not appear to be in any pain. The vet now believes that she has a neurological disorder and has referred us to a neurologist. The quote we received from the neurologist is for $2,500 which just includes the initial consult plus four tests. There's no guarantee that the tests will tell us what is wrong, and if they do, we expect the treatment will be just as expensive.

We don't have this kind of money, but we love our cat very much and want to help her in some way. Has anyone else experienced this with their cat that can offer some advice? The neurologist really isn't an option for us because we can't afford it. I'm wondering if there's alternate treatment (drugs, natural remedies, etc...) that we might have some success with.

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!

Lauren and Chris.
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-21-2009, 06:25 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Monroe, GA
Posts: 14,670
Re: Cat with neurological disorder

Welcome, and I'm sorry your kitty is having such difficulties.

We had a cat with neurological and ataxia problems with his hind legs. We got him, well, he adopted us, when he was about 10mo old in 1999. We always thought he was a 'clumsy' cat, and it wasn't until early fall of 2004 that I *really* noticed a problem. I took him to the vet and when she saw him she immediately thought "diabetes" and was STUNNED when his blood results came back prefectly normal.
Reilly's back legs began with a slight hesitation when he would walk with them. Instead of smoothly going step, step, step, step, his back legs would pause (just for a moment) in the middle of moving them forward, like: st-ep, st-ep, st-ep, st-ep. He never showed any discomfort and would still run and play, though we had to be careful if he ran past us because his back end would sort of sway and bounce back/forth as he ran and he could knock a leg out from under you. This progressed to his back legs interferring with each other, sometimes catching on his hocks and tripping him. Progressing further to only able to take about 10 steps before his spine would sway too far to the side and he'd sit down. Even further to only being able to go 2-3 steps before sitting or falling over. Eventually, he could not walk at all, and could only drag himself with his front paws.
He *could* walk upright and on all fours, IF, I held the end of his tail and 'pulled him up' to keep his back level so his back legs could move, but he couldn't hold his own weight up. By this time, you could definitely tell there was something wrong with his spine. Also, at times he would be laying down and one of his back feet would be flexed/spasming. He never seemed to be aware of what his foot was doing; it would be extended, with his toes flexed and spread apart while his leg quivered like it had a charlie-horse. I would massage his legs when I saw that and they would relax and stop spasming. It was like he didn't know there was a problem.
We could not afford to do expensive testing/treatments, so we treated his symptoms, which really was only helping him to get around and reach food, water and litterbox areas.
Anyhow, whatever it was, progressed enough that it finally began to affect his elimination abilities until he finally would become constipated and the meds stopped working. We knew it was time and took him in. What an awful day. Rei was my husband's buddy in WA state, driving back/forth to work (55mi) with him every day. The vet told us that she had discussed his case with colleagues at a seminar and they all concurred that he probably had some sort of spinal tumor. Not painful, but as it grew, it restricted his abilities more and more. She said there really would have been not much they could have done even if we did have unlimited $ to spend to try to save him. Instead, we gave him a FABULOUS life of love with us for 8 years. We said goodbye to him in the early summer of 2007 when 'he told us' he was ready to go.

Please, if you must make the decision to release your kitty from her failing body, do not burden yourselves with grief. Know instead, that you gave her a life of love, caring and a dignified way out.
I hope the vets will be able to find something to help your kitty, but I learned years ago, I can only spend so much...and I have to have a very, VERY GOOD percentage of probability for success before I will attempt anything.
I'm sorry my story wasn't more encouraging.
Best of luck,
Heidi =^..^=
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-22-2009, 03:07 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Guelph, Ontario
Posts: 2
Re: Cat with neurological disorder

Thanks Heidi for your post,

I'm really sorry to hear about your cat, it's so difficult watching an animal you love suffer. We're still praying for a miracle, but deep down I know that the day will come when we will have to put her down if her condition keeps getting worse.
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-22-2009, 03:35 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Monroe, GA
Posts: 14,670
Re: Cat with neurological disorder

Well, what was difficult for us...was he really wasn't suffering at all. He was perfectly happy and always had a friendly and sunny disposition. I actually think it would have been easier if he *had* been in pain, then we'd have had an obvious visual signal that it was time to let him go. It was very difficult for my Mother to hear about. I would get so angry with her (still do, when I think about it) when she would tell us we should just put him down, we were being cruel.
I disagreed: Rei was happy. He couldn't get around very quickly and he wasn't in pain, but once he got to an area he liked, he'd hang out there, sleeping or watching everything. I brought food/water to him and when elimination problems grew too difficult for him to get in/out of a litterbox, I gave him a plastic floor protector with a towel over it. The only 'discomfort' he'd have would be solid waste elimination. He would mew/cry with effort, paddle his back legs and his tail would stick straight out, quivering until he had finished eliminating. I could help him by massaging up by the root of his tail. This happened once a day and almost always at the same time so I could be there to help I really couldn't see 2 minutes of slight discomfort out of every day being enough reason to put him to sleep. This is why I think if he *had* been in pain, it would have made our decision easier.

It really IS very difficult to know when you need to come to that decision.
Best of luck, hugs and purrs to all of you,
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