My cat is dragging his hind legs

by Dorraine Johnson
(Woodbine Md)

My cat is 13 years old and weighs about 13 pounds. He is an indoor/outdoor cat who doesn't stray very far when outside.

He had been missing for three days which is totally unlike him. I thought for sure something had happened to him. He came around the house walking very wobbly on his hind legs. There were no external injuries. He would not eat but seemed to know who I was.

Took him to the vet where a full exam was done. No bones broken, normal temp, but was dehydrated. He was given iv fluids and an antibiotic.

Brought him home and had to feed him through dropper, water and pureed cat food for nutrition. He would get up and walk around very wobbly and was still able to use his litter box. Nursed him over the weekend and didn't think he was getting any better.

Took him back to a different vet in the same practice. He examined Ralphie and thought it might be trauma and he had some neurological damage. He gave him a cortizone shot and some prednisone pills to take, also an appetite stimulant.

Gave him the appetite stimulant and it seemed to help, but the next day he was unable to walk at all. Barely dragging himself around. He sleeps a lot and I'm still nursing him with a dropper - he will lick the pureed mixture off his paws.

I called the vet back and he said to discontinue the appetite stimulant because it could be making him drowsy and unable to pull himself up. I'm so worried about him. He doesn't seem to be in any pain, still purring and very sweet but very weak. Wasn't able to make it to his litter box. He has only urinated and a little feces. Please help.


Hi, Dorraine,

I am very sorry for the situation you and your kitty are going through. You didn't mention any blood work. It would be extremely important to analyze his blood to see if he could have a problem with his kidneys, liver, diabetes, blood loss internally producing anemia, potassium level which if low can cause profound weakness, etc.

Also, if x-rays were not done, they should be, to check for internal injuries and head trauma.

Did they check his heart and pulses in his back legs well? Male cats can have a serious heart condition called cardiomyopathy which can lead to clots going to the hind legs, brain, heart, or lungs.

There is definitely something seriously wrong, but it could be perfectly treatable with the right diagnosis and treatment. You need to go to an entirely different vet practice for a second opinion and to have the above tests if they were not done. He also should have a feeding tube until he eats on his own; without it, he will develop liver disease even if his liver is ok now. You cannot possible get enough nutrition into him through a dropper.

If you have a veterinary referral center anywhere near you that has a neurologist, orthopedic specialist, internal medicine specialist, cardiologist, etc. that would be your best best. Or if you are within driving distance of a veterinary school, that would be a great alternative also. If you have neither, is there a feline only hospital anywhere close enough to drive to? I am worried that without more attention, his life is in danger with just home care.

I wish you and your kitty the very best.

Dr. Neely

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