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Kitten doesn't walk very well

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I am new here, not sure if this is the correct forum but here goes anyway.

Bit about me first:-
I am an experienced cat owner, my three adult cats currently live with my family in France, as I moved from the UK to India four years ago. I was concerned about the health care for my cats here in India so decided it would be better for my parents to have them - they are well and happy.

I do some voluntary work for an animal shelter here in Delhi - check us out at

Now for the meat of the problem

Last thursday I went to the animal shelter and there was a tiny kitten that had been handed in. I found out that this kitten had been in the shelter for a month and had a major problem walking.

I volunteered to bring him home to see if I could rehabilitate him as they did not have time to do much with him etc at the shelter. The only other option was to put him to sleep - still an option if he has no quality of life.

So far he has progressed pretty well - to start with his back legs were floppy and he seemed to prefer to skuttle along the ground to move. I have played with him a lot - getting him to kick his back legs and try to grasp with his front legs. He is being fed well (eats well) and has had calcium injections incase it was a calcium deficiency.

Anyway he is now walking a bit, but not very elegantly and is much better developed in his hind legs - some ways to go still.

I just wanted to see if anyone had any experience with this sort of problem and/or had any other ideas for helping him progress further.

The vet at the shelter doesn't think there is anything physically stopping him from walking, but also doesn't offer any other ideas as to what could be wrong. I have no idea how old he is, but he does not seem to be more than 6 to 8 weeks.

Any suggestions or comments about how else I can help him I would be most grateful.

post #2 of 13
A kitten came into the small town Humane Society here. A foster family took him home to die. He is now still with the foster family & does walk "different", but can walk. He had been either:
1) kicked
2) ran over by a bike
3) stomped on

He suffered a spinal injury. It was revealed by x-rays I believe...cannot remember for sure.

What has been done to check this kitten out?
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
I am afraid little has been done to check the kittie out, just a physical exam. The vets here have very limited access to x ray equipment etc.

He seems to be able to move everything - his tail goes nineteen to the dozen and he is kicking well and scratching and biting me to bits - in a playful way!

So - was there anything special done for this kitten from the Humane Society?

I have tried a sling type thing but he doesn't like it and wriggles out of it - seems to be better motivated to just have a go himself!
post #4 of 13
So, its like he just doesn't want to walk? If only they could tell us exactly what's wrong!

I think all you can do is encourage him to move more, walk about, play, run, etc. Does he run?

Next bunch of questions from me (sorry ):
When he walks, do his legs flip out to the side?
Can you thoroughly describe exactly what happens when he walks?

I'm to where I am thinking manutrition....where was he found? With a mother/littermates? What type of condition was he in? If it is malnutrition, sometimes little can be done other than feed them well & work with them.

BTW, does he have a name?
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 

His name at the moment is Midget! As far as I can ascertain, he was found alone. We don't know how old he is, so I can't be sure if he is under developed or whether he is just really young. He eats well and is eating cat/kitten food four times a day - maybe getting through just under two pouches of wet food a day. I want to give him dried food also but he is a bit constipated at the moment and I don't want to make this any worse.

He is trying to walk more and more, but he will walk with his head carried quite low (although he can pick his head up), he walks very deliberately, he seems to want to "hold on" to the ground with his claws (and then gets them stuck in the carpet!) and he then just flops to one side on his hind end and lies down. He managed to prop himself into sitting position for eating (and squatting for pooing) but can't maintain himself for long. His muscle tone is improving and maybe its just a matter of time for that to develop!

He has had an attempt at running - more of a bunny hop really but at least he tried.

Anyway thanks for the interest, and if there is anything else you can suggest to help him, I am most grateful.
post #6 of 13
He might need a soothing warm bath to warm up his insides, or to help whatever is wrong. A small container will do, let him sit in the warm water for a while, maybe 3x a week. Water heals.
post #7 of 13
Without x-rays and other extensive testing, its hard to say. I was gonna say "spinal injury" but if he's moving his tail that rules it out. He just may have a circulation problem with the back legs.

Can he sit? Can he use the litter pan? Sounds like a balance problem involved too.

Not sure what to suggest about therapy - I'd just keep doing what you are doing and see what happens if he continues to grow - he may have had problems being born or something.
post #8 of 13
that's really great you're working on giving this little guy a shot at a normal life. so, you've seen marked improvement since you started working on him? it almost sounds like he's a newborn kitten and still has to learn how to use his limbs and build up strength to use them.

i just fostered a litter and they started out doing the same kinds of scuttling movements like Midget. so maybe he just needs more time to get the hang of it. additionally i once fostered a kitten who had a kind of brain damage due to malnutrition, he had a lot of trouble walking, falling a lot, misjudging distances, etc. but he eventually learned to adjust and now, 4 years later he's *still* working on it but is reportedly a pretty happy cat who gets around just fine.
post #9 of 13
Is he deaf? Sometimes kittens and other animals even humans will have trouble keeping their balance if they cannot hear well. Thats the only thing that came to mind.
post #10 of 13
Holding the head low, the way you describe him walking, I keep returning to a health problem.

Has he ever had a seizure that you've seen? I am wondering if he suffered a brain injury.
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for your replies.

He is coming on leaps and bounds - he can now walk three or four metres and has had an attempt at running properly. I think now he has the idea, he just needs to get muscle tone and balance as you say.

I guess he must be a late developer! He seemed very nervous and still has tendancies to be nervous and just crouch down and "hide". Maybe that was the problem, he just needed some condifence.

He does seem just as jimmylegs says baby kittens would normally do - its just he is not a baby kitten. And jimmylegs its great you have rehabilitated a similar type case - I am starting to get quite optimistic about his chances so its nice to know others have been there before me!

I am interested in the bath idea - thought cats hated water!! Do you think he would settle?

Anyway its great to have your encouraging words - so thanks.

Anyway will let you know how he progresses.
post #12 of 13
I've had Blossom since she was 3 weeks old & she was quite wobbly on her legs for a few weeks.
I would try leg stretches e.g. pull each leg out gently' then push it back bending his knee. Do this a few times 2-3 times per day on each leg.
To see if he has a problem with his back legs, on a table, turn his toes under & stand him on him on the upper part of his foot. If he stands it properly there would be no nerve damage. Something I've seen done on TV vet shows. The vet did it to my 14 yo dog who is having trouble with her back legs & arthritis.
post #13 of 13
Hi there- I wouldn't put him in a bath at all. The water wouldn't stay warm very long and he would more than likely get stressed out just being in the water. Instead, I would make a bit of a heating bed for him. You probably don't have access to a heating pad, but if you have plastic soda bottles, you can fill those with hot water (not boiling but pretty hot) Wrap those bottles up in soft towels and tuck them in close to him when he is sleeping. You will have to refill them often because they go cold pretty quickly.

He sounds like what is wrong with him is either genetic or he is just under-developed. If you can get him to lay on his belly without him protesting much, you can gently stretch his back legs for him several times a day to help with muscle tone.

Also a bit of a private note. Would you send me a private message? I have been asked to write an article for a cat magazine out of India. I would like to pick your brain about the state of health care in the country, what sort of food is available etc? If you don't mind- this would be a great help. I already met the deadline and turned the first article in, but they want more articles in the future.

Thank you and good luck with your kitty-
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