Paralysis in Cats: Everything You Need to Know

In total or partial paralysis, the cat can not touch all or part of the body.

Paralysis can be associated with pain but does not have to be. The causes of the condition can vary:

  • Nerve damage after, for example, a traffic accident, herniated disc, infection or tumor in the nervous system (brain, spinal cord or nerve elsewhere in the body)
  • Skeletal damage, such as bone fractures or skeletal cancer
  • Muscle injury
  • Congenital brain damage, such as abnormally developed cerebellum
  • Poisoning
  • Blood clot – in typical cases, the cat has a blood clot in the large carotid artery where it goes out to the hind legs. The condition most often occurs in cats with heart disease, such as the heart muscle disease HCM.


In case of total paralysis, the cat can not move at all but lies down flat.

In case of partial or partial paralysis, it can move but drags one or more legs behind it.


The veterinarian can get a lot of information through the so-called anamnesis, the medical history. For example, it is important to know when the symptoms started, if the paralysis came on insidiously or suddenly, if the cat has been through some trauma, such as a traffic accident or fall, and how the cat is otherwise.

During the examination, the veterinarian wants to see the cat move and assess its behavior if possible. In addition to a general clinical examination, an extended examination is performed of the musculoskeletal system, ie muscles, joints and skeleton, and of the nervous system.

Among other things, they want to determine whether the cat has a feeling in the paralyzed body part or not, but also find out if the reflexes are normal and try to determine where in the body the injury is. A paralyzed buttocks can, for example, indicate an injury to the back.

X-ray examinations and in some cases other imaging examinations in the form of MRI or CT are also often performed. Depending on what is found in the clinical examination, it may be relevant with blood tests and sometimes also analysis of spinal fluid.

The treatment

Depending on the underlying cause of the paralysis, treatment may be surgical, conservative or medical.

However, the paralysis can not always be cured and in some cases it is recommended that the cat be allowed to fall asleep. Extensive paralysis is a painful condition for the cat, whether it is in pain or not, as it is unable to perform its natural behaviors and may even have difficulty urinating and pooping, leading to sequelae.


Paralysis is always a serious condition and the prognosis depends on what has caused the paralysis. An acute paralysis of a bone caused by a fracture usually has a good prognosis if the cat receives the right treatment.

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