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Chance of (Full) Recovery?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
About 12 days ago my cat fell off the back of a chair onto the carpet (like she's done on several other occasions). She was momentarily dazed, but soon got up and trotted away. However, I began to notice that her right front paw was turned inwards slightly. I thought she had overgrown claws, so I eventually took her to the vet 8 days ago to have her claws trimmed. It turned out that her claws were not really the problem!

On further examination and from X-rays, it was determined that she has a slightly compressed spine (I think) which has probably caused her spinal cord/nerve to be pinched. This in turn has created a (slight) weakness in all of her legs, with her right front paw being the worst affected. Her paw is mostly turned inwards most of the time, although on odd ocassion she manages to place her paw flat on the floor in the 'normal' position.

The vets prescribed rest (she's in a cage at home), and she is due to be checked again in a few days time. However, there appears to have been only very little improvement (if any) in the functioning of her legs (especially her right front paw). She hasn't gotten worse, anyway!

From my understanding, nerves usually heal, but may take awhile to do so. Correct?

Will she recover (full) use of her legs/paws? More rest required?

Would special diet help?

Would massaging her back (manually and/or ultrasonically) help?

Would infra red treatment help?

Constructive comments appreciated. Anyone?
post #2 of 18
My first suggestion is to direct the ??s you asked us to your vet at the recheck ...

I would also suggest asking for a refferral to a specialist ...

I have nerve damage from over ten yrs ago some of it healed and the rest did not but I did NOT rest
post #3 of 18
I wish that I had some advice to offer, but I don't.

I'm so sorry to hear about your poor kitty. I sure hope she makes a full recovery w/o any complications.
post #4 of 18
From what I learned in vet tech school, nerves do NOT heal well or quickly, so do not be surprised if she doesn't make much of an improvemtn. But other than that, definitely consult your vet.
post #5 of 18
My now 10-year-old cat had a spinal cord injury when she was 5. It took her a full 6 months to heal and she got about 95% of her function back. You're situation is a bit different but since it's along the same lines I think it would still apply. Time and rest are the key to your kitty's healing right now. I would ask the vet your other questions. Good luck to you and your baby!
post #6 of 18
Very important to ask your vet these questions. I agree that getting the opinion of a specialist would be very helpful.

The vet explained a spinal cord injury to you. It is similar to what happens to humans that have a spinal cord injury in that movement makes it unstable and can cause more damage to the nerves. That's why when humans have these types of accidents, we are put in traction or a brace to limit movement.

There was a thread recently regarding a spinal cord injury of a kitten and I believe the doctor made the kitten some kind of brace to hold it's neck straight during the time needed for the bone to heal.

Do not do any kind of massage on your cat without instruction from a qualified vet. You could cause more damage.

I hope your baby gets better soon.
post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your comments!

Yes, I was reluctant to apply any massaging technique etc. in the event that it may aggravate the situation.

I'll consult the vet regarding these issues next time I go.

A couple of things I forgot to mention in my first post.

I suspect her injury may have been aggravated by her jumping down from chairs etc. before I took her to the vet and then rested her. Initially (immediately after the fall), her right front paw was only slightly turned inward. By the time I took her to the vet, her right front paw was more turned inwards, and she would walk with her paw sideways on the floor (and still does most of the time at present)!

I had reason for hope, as another cat we had several years ago had a similar, but less severe, problem. He had become a bit weak and wobbly in his back legs. Examination and X-rays revealed slight compression of his spine, and diagnosis was pinched nerve. We didn't specifically rest him (indoors or in a cage), but he seemed to heal up reasonably quickly anyway! I think he healed within maybe two weeks or so (it seemed to be quick, but I can't remember how long for certain)!?

Female cat appears to have a more severe problem compared to our previous cats problem, but I'm hoping that she will ultimately heal.

Still wondering if there is some special nutrition that may aid in recovery?
post #8 of 18
The answer to your question is, unfortunately, a HUGE "it depends."

What's the cause? Is it simply an injury, or is there some sort of degenerative condition?

If there is actual injury to the spinal cord, prognosis is pretty grave. If there is inflammation impinging on the spinal cord, prognosis is good...if you can get the inflammation under control. If there is bony change (arthritis) and that bony change is causing impingement, then you will probably not see improvement, but she will probably not get any worse--as long as the arthritis does not get worse. If it is a degenerative condition, she will only get worse, unless you can get the condition under control.

It is simply NOT POSSIBLE to see spinal cord compression on a radiograph. To visualize the spinal cord, you would need a meylogram, which is a procedure that is conducted under full anesthesia where contrast material is injected into the spinal column. A meylogram would tell you if the spinal cord is compressed, where the spinal cord is compressed and how severe the compression is.

Waiting and seeing will only help if the cause is inflammation. Keeping her quiet and treating her with anti-inflammitories will reduce inflammation. If the cause of her ataxia is true spinal cord injury, or impingement due to bony change, you will probably not see any change at all, or she may get worse.

I am not sure if gabapentin or amantidine are used in felines, but both work very well on neuropathic pain, and may help your kitty feel a bit better. It would be worth asking your vet about either one.

Neurologically normal kitties do not routinely fall when they jump. The fact that your kitty routinely falls is quite concerning, and indicates that she has been abnormal neurologically for quite some time.

Please do NOT attempt any massage or manipulation. The results could be very bad. I would, however, recommend a good veterinary acupuncturist. Acupuncture can be significantly helpful in neurological cases.

Edited to add: regarding nutrition...a good vitamin E source will help with neuronal repair. I would recommend natural vitamin E over synthetic. Perhaps 100 IUs per day for your kitty should help support her. A fish oil (omega 3) supplement will also provide potent, natural anti-inflammitory affect.
post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 

Actually, she usually fell off the back of the chair while sleeping (funny place to sleep!). She's slept on the back of the chair on and off for some years now, but did not fall off very often. Mind you she is about 15~16 years old now, and her reflexes are not as quick as before.

The X-rays did show some signs of arthritis, although (I think) there was little or none in the vicinty of the spine where the problem is.

Just a reminder that there did not appear to be anything wrong with her legs/paws (apart from very slight weakness due to age/arthritis) prior to the last fall off the chair. The current problem with the her legs/paws seemed to occur almost immediately after the fall.

Vitamin E. OK, I'll look further into that. Thanks!
post #10 of 18
How is the vet determining the area of issue? What is he (or she) seeing on the radiographs, if it is not arthritis? Or is your vet just going of off symptoms?

Most animals hide neuro issues quite well until they are well advanced--most people do not notice a bit of a crooked walk or head tilt or incoordination or non-symmetrical muscling...all are symptoms of neuro issues.

Good luck with your kitty! I hope she improves. Neuro stuff can be difficult. If she does not improve with just rest, I do encourage you to ask your vet about gabapentin or amantidine. Sometimes nerve impingement can cause "funny bone" type tingling, and these drugs can reduce/eliminate such sensation...which does greatly help the quality of life.
post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
Actually several vets were involved. The first vet suspected neurological disorder. Another vet who specializes in nervous disorders (physiological and psychological) localized the source of the problem to the spine near the shoulder blades after further examination/tests. Finally, a third vet X-rayed and provided the diagnosis and treatment.

I'd like to wait a few days more to see how our cat does by just resting. Then another trip to the vet will be made to see how things should progress.

Thanks again for your detailed comments!
post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
An update.

Cat was taken to the vet recently for a checkup. Vet was of the opinion that there was no improvement in her condition. I mentioned that the cats right front paw was in normal flat position (instead of being partly tucked inwards) on several occasions. Vet thought this might just be more a fluke of leg/paw position rather than a sign of improvement. I also mentioned my understanding that healing of nerves could take many months. But vet had doubts about that.

Vet also did a general health check, and did not find anything else to be of concern (phew!). The possibility of doing spinal tap test, and MRI/CT scans was mentioned by the vet as a means of checking/verifying what was actually wrong with our cat (despite a third vet diagnosing the problem as being compressed spine/pinched nerve two weeks ago). If it is really necessary we may have the spinal tap test done (later). We have rejected the MRI/CT scans as it requires the cat to be transported to another city to have the scans done (stressful for cat and us). Also, the scans are VERY expensive; we basically can't afford to have the scans done!

I asked vet about ultrasonic and/or infra red as an aid to healing nerves/spine. Vet said that they couldn't advise on that.

Vet suggested another checkup in two weeks time to check on cats progress.

BTW, this vet was the same vet who first attended to our cat previously. Also, this vet is young and recently graduated (~ relatively inexperienced). Although this vet seems to know a fair amount of stuff (as they should), my impression is that this vet is a bit pessimistic, and, perhaps due to inexperience, lacking some knowledge as well. We're considering getting some advice from another (senior) vet who has more experience.

Cat is otherwise fairly normal with eating reasonably well (a bit fussy though - as usual), grooming and scratching, and fairly alert. The only negative seems that doing 'toilet' appears to take a bit longer.

Anyway, from what has happened leading up to our cats problem, my intuition says "rest" for the cat!
post #13 of 18
My advise would be to have kitty seen by a Vet Neurologist, or at least have your own Vet consult with one. As in humans, issues of the spine are generally a little more complex/specialized than most family doctors (or in this case regular vet) have experience with. For example, just the fact that they're discussing a possible spinal tap - that seems out to lunch to me, that really isn't the type of test you'd do in a case like this (I'm a nurse of 21 yrs so this is where my knowledge thinking comes from).

Here's a page I found, which shows Vet Neurologists all over North America (U.S. and Canada)...see if there's one in your state/province. If you find one that's too far away, you could at least ask your Vet to consult with them.

How old is your cat, by the way?

post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your comments!

BTW, we live in NZ. Thanks for the list of Neurologists in NA anyway!

Our cat is 16 yo. She has already been seen by a vet specializing in neurological disorders. That specialists examination and/or tests indicated the problem originates from the spine just past the shoulder blades. X-rays of the area (and surrounding areas to be sure) indicated a (slightly) compressed spine with likelyhood of pinched nerve(s). That was the diagnosis of a third vet.

I suspect the first (young) vet is coming up with all sort of possibilities including cancer, meningitis, bacterial infection and whatever else without really considering the circumstances (and symptoms) leading up to the problem. Although the first vets enthusiasm is appreciated, this vets lack of experience is beginning to show I think.

Our cat does not have any other symptom (no fever, lumps, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, sneezing etc etc) apart from weakness in her legs and paws. She was basically OK prior to her fall off the chair. After that fall her legs/paws became weak. Other vets diagnosed pinched nerve(s). That's what we think is the most likely cause of the problem also.

So, we're reluctant to have any further tests done unless some complications arise and/or it becomes really necessary to have the tests done. In the meantime, our cat will remain resting in her cage.
post #15 of 18
Thread Starter 
An update on the status of my cat.

First, just to clarify that I live by myself. The cat was brought in to our family when there were two of us, now there's only me.

My female cat has been put to sleep (this was a joint decision between myself and the vet (this was another vet - not the pessimistic new vet who attended to her previously). She was not eating enough, and she was losing too much weight (especially with her hyperthyroidism; which was being treated with tablet medication). It is my belief that she was becoming too fussy about the food she ate. She often left most (and in some cases all) of her food behind. This had been going on for some months (prior to her fall off the back of the chair causing spinal/nerve problem).

Her weight loss was probably aggravated in that her hyperthyroidism medication was mixed in with her food. And if she didn't eat (enough) of her food, she wouldn't get enough (or any) of her medication, which in turn meant her hyperthyroidism wasn't being kept (fully) under control.

Of course, I'm extremely upset with her passing, and I'm finding things at the moment to be quite stressful and depressing!

On a positive note, I did note a definite improvement in the functioning of her right front paw (more flat on ground, instead of mostly being partially tucked beneath her). So, if she had lived longer, I was fairly confident that her paw (and her other paws/legs) would have improved even further!

Whether to get another cat or not (later) is yet to be decided. One problem is that I am not working (primarily because of stress related issues), and saved money is getting low, so I can't really afford to look after another cat. However, if I am able to gain employment and receive a fairly steady income, then I would be more inclined to get another cat for company.

Comments, anyone?
post #16 of 18
I am sorry your cat has been PTS

I think you are smart to wait awhile before you get another kitty....
Especially if you are currently on a limited income.
post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks , and sorry for delay in repsonse

I would love to get another cat right now! But, I also think it would be wiser to wait a bit (especially as I'm still grieving at the moment) before getting another cat.

Anway, I often get to see, and sometimes talk to and pet my neighbors cats, so that brightens up my day (just a bit)!
post #18 of 18
I have to agree with you on the rest and containment issue. It worked for us and Dite with her ligament damage. The real reason I'm posting is because I just wanted to tell you that I hope you find an answer and never give up hope, seriously, cats have an amazingly strong will to live Here's hoping!
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