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my cat is walking funny...

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone,

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that my cat was limping. This evolved into more severe limping, and I took her to the vet for a check. The vet put her on steroids, said to watch her and check back in a week (suspected arthritis). I have been watching her very closely, and I finally figured out what she's doing that not right: She is not walking on her "tip toes" (on all 4 paws) like cats normally do. Her front paws are flattened out a little, and she's using more of her back foot when she walks too. Difficult to describe in words!

I am going to the vet again on Wed, and any information I can "arm" myself with upfront from this group would be much appreciated!

Thank you!
post #2 of 37
Is it possible that any of her claws are growing into her paws? Have a good look at each claw.

Is she declawed?

Is this more her back legs? - sort of like she's walking with her back leg more "flat" on the ground as opposed to walking more on the tip of the toes?

I think I know what you're describing; sounds like kitty is walking on her "hocks"...........sort of like in this picture:

Various health conditions can cause this (also referred to as hindleg weakness).......diabetes, kidney disease..........and because you mentioned that vet suspects she has arthritis, I'm guessing she's a senior it's essential the bloodwork be done to test for diabetes and kidney disease. If your vet didn't do this initially, that's a shame. Steroids are pretty potent and not just something you put a cat onto unless you've ruled out the actual "cause" of the in the case that a cat is older and more at risk for developing diabetes, steroids themselves can cause it!

Does your kitty have any other symptoms?

-drinking more water
-peeing more often
-decreased appetite
-less energy than is usual for her
-sleeping more than usual
-fur appears more scruffy
-weight loss
post #3 of 37
Thread Starter 
Why didn't I start here first? Thanks for replying so quickly!

She (Bela) is 12 1/2 years old. She is not declawed, and I have checked all of her paws, claws, and they seem to be working okay.

It IS a shame that no blood work was done initially. She is going in again on Wed. a.m., and I will insist that they do blood work if they don't suggest it.

She is drinking more (I assume from the steroids), eating less, more lethargic, although she has a sister and will scrap with her as energetically as ever. No weight loss that I can tell.

I initially noticed the walking issue in her front legs, but now it's all fours. The front paws seem to be worse than the back paws. She's not totally on her "hocks," but she's close!

Based on your message I rescheduled my appointment for this afternoon (writing from The States)! Thank you!
post #4 of 37
I'm really glad you came here, and also that you're able to get her back into the Vet today. Make sure when you request bloodwork, please request that a full senior panel be done, which includes glucose, electrolytes (low potassium can cause weakness), kidney function.....and thyroid level. Hyperthyroidism is also common in senior cats and it can cause weakness, too. You'll likely have to ask for the thyroid level to be done, it's not generally included (at least not here in Canada) be sure to ask!

you can probably expect that kitty's blood sugar level will be elevate somewhat, just due to the stress of having bloodwork done PLUS being on steroids.......but I'd imagine the level would be quite high if she's diabetic. Vet should also collect a urine sample and run a urinalysis (request this)....this can show a lot of good stuff, too...........kidney function, whether she's spilling sugar into her urine, etc.

Let us know how it goes! And even if it does turn out to be diabetes or kidney disease or hyperthyroidism, there's treatments for these so don't lose hope! I have a diabetic kitty who's been on insulin for 5.5 yrs, a shot twice a day........he's doing wonderfully.......and he's also borderline kidney disease (as is my oldest cat, who's 16).

TO add..........if it's diabetes that's causing this weakness, unlike in humans, once the diabetes is under control and with the supplementation of Vit B12 (methylcobalomin), the neuropathy is totally reversible!! When my cat was first diagnosed, until I could get him regulated, he had a lot of weakness......and I started him on the methyl and within a week he was back to normal. That link I gave you explains more about this.
post #5 of 37
Thread Starter 
Great, thanks again for the information! I will give you a full report!
post #6 of 37
Thread Starter 
Thanks again, "food lady," for the great advice. Bela was a good patient. Based on her symptoms (the walking issue), there are a number of possibilities. It could be diabetes, cushings (sp?), cancer, possibly a thyroid issue (her sister was diagnosed with hyperT about a year ago). Blood was drawn and I will have results tomorrow. The vet was not going to test her urine, but I asked, and he grabbed a sample. And am I glad I asked! On an initial test, her sugar levels were very high. So, good info for the vet to have when he gets the blood work back (and saves a vet visit as well).

Thanks to your advise, I feel I got a little more out of this visit. Will keep you posted on further developments!
post #7 of 37
Hi Jem,

I'll be looking forward to an update! I'm guessing if the preliminary testing showed high glucose in the urine, kitty probably is diabetic but guess we'll see. If so, there's great resources online for learning about feline diabetes (feline diabetes message board).........and here's a better link on feline diabetic neuropathy re: the use of methycobalamin for it, and the links on the left side of this page (methyl. resources) shows where you can order it. the story of Jasper the cat is amazing! You can't just use the usual Vit B12 you'd find in stores, that's cyancobalamin's a different form of would be useless........the methyl is better absorbed, it's the only one that works and it's amazing how quickly!
post #8 of 37
Sounds like it could be diabetes to me but coco was falling over in 2001 and her sugar level was 329.
The vet was sure she had Diabetes but she did not.
You say she is drinking alot of water.
That could be alot of things
Steroids can cause diabetes also.
Let us know how her tests are.
post #9 of 37
Thread Starter 
Well, just spoke to the vet. Bela's blood sugar is 399. Kidney levels are a little high, but other "readings" (I don't do medical speak very well) are normal.

I don't want to jump to insulin right away. I am going to start with a diet change, wait a couple of weeks to get these 'roids out of her system and have another test.

Do any of you have any suggestions? I am pretty ignorant about Diabetes and would love some advise! Thank you.
post #10 of 37
Thread Starter 
Or, as mews2much suggested, maybe this is not diabetes after all?
post #11 of 37
Hi Jem,

While steroids would raise a cat's blood sugar, by how much? 399 is pretty high, I'm not sure if steroids would raise it this high. I guess one has to consider that the "walking on hocks" symptom presented prior to the steroids, and something was causing that.

When does kitty complete the steroid treatment? What steroid medication and what was the dose? Did Vet have you wean the dose down gradually? (as opposed to stopping it abruptly, which is dangerous)

As to how long it will take for the steroids to leave her system will really depend what kind she was taking and when she completed them.

Can you provide a little more info? (as per questions above) I have some suggestions (for trying to determine if the elevated blood sugar is just due to the steroids or if it's really diabetes) but will wait until you can provide more info.
post #12 of 37
Thread Starter 
Thanks for asking, food lady!

Bela had definitely been limping prior to the steroids, but I did not observe the "walking on hocks" symptoms until after the steroids. She began taking the steroids (one pill a day) last Thursday for three days in a row, then I skipped Sunday and gave her a pill on Monday. The vet told me yesterday to stop the steroids, so I have no plans to give her any more.

I will get you the specific drug name soon (I am at work and will check the bottle when I get home). I believe the dosage was a 5 mg pill.

You are helping more than you know! to you!
post #13 of 37
Coco's blood sugar was 329 before the steriods.
She had alot of bad levels and was very anemic at the time and almost died.
It turned out to be Fia.
It sound like your cat has Diabetes.
Sounds like it was pred nisone your cat was on.
Now i wonder if tahts why my Coco has high bp.
Can you post what the other readings are.
I would like to know what her bun and crea are?
Here is the link to the site.
post #14 of 37
I'm betting if it was a 5mg pill, that it was Predisone that you were giving. Based on what you wrote, Bela received 4 doses. That's not an awful lot. Prednisone isn't a long-acting steroid.

Steroids can cause 'steroid induced diabetes' - which can either be temporary or permanent. Sometimes in an older cat, even low doses can be enough to trigger diabetes.

A blood sugar of 399 is significant, seeing how the normal range is generally about 75-150. Of course the stress of being at the Vet and having bloodwork can elevate the sugar level in any cat (even a non-diabetic one)......add to that the steroid....but would these factors be enough to raise it to 399? I'm not sure.

What did the Vet suggest you do?

If it were me, I'd be inclined to return to the Vet this coming Monday and have just a glucose level done. Or, if you have access to a human diabetic glucose monitor (have any diabetic friends or relatives? ), you could learn how to test it yourself and check Bela's sugar level yourself a few times over the next several days to see where it's at.

You could also post on the Feline Diabetes Message Board:

A great site! This is where I learned so much, when my kitty Taco was diagnosed w/ Diabetes almost 6 yrs ago.

There's a page there, with all kinds of links on "home testing" - including step by step videos, etc:

What do you normally feed Bela? Dry food is significantly higher in carbs than canned........and a diabetic cat doesn't have to be on 'prescription food'.....just a good quality low-carb food is fine.

Here is a great page, worth's a compilation of most canned foods out there, from prescription to premium to cheap stuff.........showing the "carb content" of each, for comparison. At the top of the page, there's also a link to the same kind of page for most "dry" foods.......

I agree that it might be good to wait a little before determining whether Bela is diabetic/needs's safer for a cat's blood sugar to run high than it is to run too low (if given insulin but doesn't really need it, or, if given too much insulin).
post #15 of 37
Thread Starter 

The drug Bela is on: Triamcinolone (Vetalog) -- it says 0.5 mg on the label.

I will get the rest of Bela's stats when I stop by the vet tomorrow to pick up some high protein food. And regarding food... Bela would rather starve than eat canned food. I may stop by a local pet store and pick up some home made cat food to see if she will eat that.

I know a food adjustment is a long shot to get Bela back to better health, but I do want to try it first. And, I must admit I an not thrilled about the idea of administering insulin shots, but I thank you for assuring me that it won't be all that bad.

Again, thank you! I will post more when I know more.
post #16 of 37
You might also check out this website:

Your Diabetic Cat

It is run by Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkins, who is a well known vet with a cat's only practice in California. She is the author of Your Cat: Simple Secrets to a Longer, Stronger Life

Diabetes is a terrible disease for a cat, and really the best solution that I have read about seems to be removing dry food entirely from the diet. I know you said that Bela would rather starve than eat canned food, but giving her all of the carbs in dry food, especially if she is diabetic, could potentially kill her anyway. It may take a long time to switch her to canned food, but it is possible. There is a lot of evidence that I have read about that implies that kitties who are put on an exclusively wet food or homemade food diet actually may not need insulin to treat their diabetes, or not as much as other kitties.

I don't have a diabetic cat myself, but I like all the other info I have read from Dr. Hodgkins, and also Dr. Lisa Pierson at She has a great section on Feline Diabetes also.

Whichever way you go, of course talk with your vet and whatever happens, good luck with your kitty. I hope she recovers and lives many, many more years with you, diabetes or no.
post #17 of 37
Thread Starter 
What do you all think about making food? I am more than willing to do that. I know there are certain ingredients I will need to buy, other than meat.

And, raw or cooked meat? Any thoughts!

post #18 of 37
I think making food could be a good option for you. It can actually cut down on the costs of "wet" foods if managed properly, and you know everything that is going into the food so you can control better how many carbs your kitty is getting.

I have seen what looked like good recipes in Dr. Hodgkin's book, which I linked in my last post, and in Foods Pets Die For by Ann M. Martin as well as Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats.

I found all of those books for affordable prices via and, but you may check at your local library, or see if your library might order them for you.

I unfortunately do not know of any websites with good recipes, but I haven't done as much online research of raw and/or homemade cooked foods. I think a lot of other members have. Maybe you should start a thread just asking for online links about homemade foods, raw or cooked?

Good luck!
post #19 of 37
Thread Starter 
A million thanks! I will start a new threat re: home made food... see what people say. And I will also try to locate the books you recommended.

Someone earlier had asked for some more stats -- these are the "abnormal" ones (and I have no idea what most of them are/mean:

Glucose: 399 (already shared that)
Cholesterol: 247
Urea U:47
Potassium: 2.8
Chloride: 108 (pretty close to normal)
Anion Gap: 27 (again, close)
Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin: 18.1
Mean Corpuscular Hgb Conc. 37.1
Red Cell Distribution width: 16.5
Lymphocyte Absolute: .86

And as for "bun and crea" readings -- not sure what those are?

thanks again!
post #20 of 37
I had a diabetic cat ...I dealt with his illness with the wonderful help I got from the ppl at they are an amazing and very informed bunch of ppl....My vet put my cat on insulin with one high BG reading.....and kept uping it til he was on way way way to much insulin..with the help of that message board I started treating my cat at home with a meter...I learned about curves and the proper dose ...and my cat was fine on a very little bit of insulin....the vets where actually surprised at how well he was doing...they were very good in helping me when they saw ..what I was doing..I would come in there curve's all printed out and so on....Pls check out that me it saved my cats life more than once....

post #21 of 37
Hi Jem,

Wow, kitty's potassium level is very low!!!!!!!!!!! It's no wonder kitty was (is) walking on her hocks.............potassium is related to muscle function and if very low potassium, the muscles are weak.

Did Vet not seem concerned about this? My old CRF kitty had an additional condition (rare, called hyperaldosteronism) that caused her to have chronically low potassium and high blood pressure .........and even then, the lowest was about 3.0 (she was on potassium supplementation). 2.8 is dangerously low. As potassium helps muscles function, the heart is a muscle and low potassium can obviously impact the heart, too.

Not only should Vet be wanting to investigate why potassium is soooo low, but starting kitty on immediate supplementation, wow.

BUN is elevated (on your list, it's referred to as UREA), that shows kidney function. I don't see the Creatinine level - was it done? It's possible that kitty has a high Creat level, therefore kidney issues.............and long term kidney issues can cause a real loss in potassium, too....because the kidneys have lost a lot of their ability to 'concentrate' the urine........they pee more and pee out more potassium.

Are you positive you typed the correct potassium level?

Low potassium is called "hypokalemia" and here are some articles for you to read on it:

Although the "normal range" for various lab tests can vary somewhat from lab to lab, they're generally consistent...............and the normal range for potassium in a cat is about 3.5 to you can see, 2.8 is horribly low.

When my old girl's potassium became low, due to the combination of her CRF and her Hyperaldosteronism, she'd have a lot of hindleg weakness, she'd walk on her hocks, she'd have trouble climbing into the litterbox, she'd have little energy, she'd get very constipated and she just didn't really want to be picked up (I'm sure all her muscles were sore!).

Is that ALL of the bloodwork your Vet had run? It's amazing a Creatinine level wasn't done.............that's a much more accurate indicator of kidney function than BUN (Urea)......I notice no liver enzymes were done, thyroid level not done.
post #22 of 37
Thread Starter 
Hi -- Yes, the potassium level is correct. I only listed the items that were either "hi" or "low." Her T4 levels were all okay. Unfortunately, I'm afraid I left my copy of the blood work results on my desk at work! I will be sure to call the vet's office on Friday (after the thanksgiving holiday) and press for answers about kidney function.

This is going to be a long process! Thanks again for your attention.

Can I start feeding her bananas in the meantime to get her potassium levels up?
post #23 of 37
I hope your cat feels better.
I see the bun is a little high.
post #24 of 37
Thread Starter 

Some more stats for those who are asking:

Yes, a Creatinine level was recorded: 1.2 mb/dL
Her T4 is 2.9 ug/dL ("normal" range is 1.9-4.8, according to my sheet provided by the Vet)

Bela is kind-of on a hunger strike now. I did buy some commercially produced raw food that she won't touch, but my other cat loves it. Bela will eat "people" food. I've been mixing tuna with some of the dried cat food.

I have an appt. next week to have blood work done again. May try to move that appt. to later this week.

post #25 of 37
Cats have a "fight or flight" reaction while under severe stress (such as being at the vet) so the blood sugar reading may not be totally accurate. A better test for diabetes is to see if there is sugar spilling into the urine.

Also, steroids can cause diabetes, but normally, once the steroids are discontinued, the diabetes can resolve on it's own. However, if your cat was "limping" before the steroids, my guess is that the damage has already been done if diabetes is the diagnosis. The limping is caused by nerve damage from not receiving the proper amount of nutrients to the muscles and they (as well as the nerves) begin to atrophy. This is what makes the cat limp - they can also have sensations like burning, itching or no feeling in their paws whatsoever, depending on the amount of damage.

Ask the vet to check for sugar in the urine more so than glucose in the blood. It's a better test for cats.
post #26 of 37
Thread Starter 
Yes, thank you for that reminder about testing the urine again as well. Thanks to this forum, I insisted that the vet take a urine sample when the first round of blood work was done. Sugar was high when the urine was sampled, but she still had the 'roids in her system.
post #27 of 37
Were you able to talk to the Vet about kitty's *very* low potassium level? I don't mean to scare you but I really want to stress just how critically low it is. Please read my previous post about low potassium and links I posted on "hypokalemia." Frankly, I would be furious if any of my cat's had a K that low and the Vet didn't express concern for both the cause, and want to start on immediate supplementation. This is a very serious matter, and can certainly be contributing to kitty's lack of appetite. I've seen (and had) cats that were hospitalized with a potassium that was low but higher than that, seriously.

How is your kitty doing? Energy level? Hindleg weakness? Walking on hocks?
post #28 of 37
Thread Starter 
Food Lady, thanks for prodding me on the potassium. I have a call into my vet today (issue below), and I will ask about supplements. She will eat tuna, and I mixed in the dried food with that.

I am pretty sure Bela urinated in my boot yesterday -- the boots were by back door, near a litter box, and in an area where there have been other peeing incidences. I have been pretty meticulous about cleaning the litter boxes, except I left yesterday a.m. without cleaning. I haven't had to clean up cat urine in nearly a week, so I hope it was the dirty litter box.

Anyway, I will let you know what the vet says. I will press the issue of potassium supplements! THANKS!
post #29 of 37
Well I'm new to this site and I can't figure out how to post a thread. Cuz my cat has some problems that I need some answer 2 without taking him to the vet right away because I don't have time to go. Will you plz help me?

Also, I've been reading about your cat and mine has similar problems. We got him from the humane society. He wasn't sick until 2 days after we got him. He wouldn't eat or drink all he did was sleep. He soon came out of it and he seemed fine. Except that he wouldn't stop sneezing all the time. We recently noticed that he doesn't walk on his tiptoes either he walks like lets say u broke ur arm right below ur wrist and It permanently stuck that way. Its odd. Now the entire right side of his face is swollen up and his eyes have bloody discharge coming from them and he's sneezing blood. Please Help me!! He is about 8 months old. And he is gray and has golden eyes. Could this be his breed with their feet?! IDK!!
post #30 of 37
Could someone help me? My kitten fluffy has started walking funny tonight, I have had a look but couldn't see anything! She isn't crying in pain or anything? I'm taking her to the vets in the morning just wondering if there is anything I could do to help her in till then?
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