Back Pain in Cats

Back pain in cats can be mild or severe, and could be the result of injury as well as disease. Treatment for feline back pain depends on the cause and severity of the symptoms. Here's what you should know about feline back pain.

Causes of Back Pain in Cats

Feline neck and back pain is often the result of one of many muscle diseases, nerve problems or spinal disorders. Injuries to the spinal muscles, bite wounds and infections can cause neck and back pain in cats. Infection of the vertebral discs, inflammation of the discs or spinal fractures and dislocations can cause back pain in cats.

Your cat may experience back pain due to inflammation or infection of the meninges, or the membranes that surround the spine and brain. Bone cancer of the vertebrae can cause back pain, as can cancer in the muscles along the spine or in the nerves surrounding the spine. Your cat may even experience back pain as a result of disorders in the organs near the back, like the kidneys.

Symptoms of Feline Back Pain

If your cat is experiencing back pain, his movements could appear stiff or painful. His posture and gait may change; he might arch his back or assume a different stance. His neck may seem stiff and he may appear reluctance to move his head. He may even cry out with pain when he moves, or when someone touches the painful areas on his back. 

If your cat's back pain is the result of illness or infection, then he may show other symptoms such as lethargy, loss of appetite and fever. Bruises, lacerations or wounds near the spine could indicate an injury to the area. Weakness, partial or total paralysis, or wobbly gait could all be symptoms of feline back pain. Your cat's spine may even appear deformed to the naked eye.

Diagnosing Feline Back Pain

Your vet will take a complete medical history and perform a physical exam to determine the cause of your cat's back pain. If no injury or deformity appears to be present, your vet may perform a range of tests to check for illness or infection. Blood tests, X-rays of the abdomen and spine, serology tests, MRIs, CAT scans and spinal taps are all useful for diagnosing the causes of feline back pain.

Treating Feline Back Pain

Treatment for feline back pain will vary depending on the cause and severity of your cat's back pain. Medication, such as anti-inflammatory steroids or antibiotics, can be used to treat infections and illnesses that affect the spine and spinal muscles. If your cat has sustained an injury, or is suffering from cancer or certain spinal infections, surgery may be called for. Back pain can be easy to treat or very difficult, depending on the underlying cause of the pain.

While your cat is recovering from back pain, try to minimize his movements. Do not allow any exercise without your vet's permission.