Spinal Cord Injury in Cats

Spinal cord injury develops due to various causes in cats of all breeds and age groups. The cat's spinal cord comprises of vertebrae that are joined together by muscles. Although the cat's spinal cord is agile, cats often suffer from spinal injuries due to accidents, trauma or internal tumors. Since the spinal cord controls various bodily functions such as motion and feline reflexes, it's necessary to promptly treat pets suffering from spinal cord injury. The vet will perform various diagnostic tests to determine the type and severity of spinal cord injury present and initiate the appropriate treatment.

Symptoms of Feline Spinal Cord Injury Include:

  • Pain and discomfort
  • Inability to stand or walk
  • Lameness of the legs
  • Reduced playfulness
  • Lethargy
  • Limp

Causes of Feline Spinal Cord Injury Include:

  • Spinal cord fracture
  • Ruptured disk
  • Spinal column malformation
  • Trauma due to accidental injury

Spinal Cord Fracture

Spinal cord fractures should be treated on time, particularly if the cat has been in an accident and if the injury involves excessive bleeding. Pets suffering from spinal fractures are at greater risk of becoming paralyzed. Since spinal cord fracture is an emergency situation, the vet will perform a prompt neurological diagnosis to determine the severity of injury present. Most pets require surgical intervention to avoid sudden death and paralysis.

Ruptured Disk

A ruptured disk can lead to spinal compression. Often, the symptoms of ruptured disk accompany other signs of spinal trauma or damage. Since minor spinal problems can be fixed with medical treatment and the use of a neck brace, it's important to initiate early treatment to prevent complications.

Spinal Column Malformation

This is a type of malformation that presents itself in the vertebrae in the cat's neck. The cause of spinal column malformation is attributed to accidental injury or birth abnormalities. This condition can be corrected to prevent complete paralysis. The most common treatment option is a neck brace and rest.

Trauma Due to Accidental Injury

Accidental injury can cause severe trauma that leads to internal bleeding, blood clots and laceration of the spinal column. Spinal cord trauma causes severe neurological disturbances in pets. It's thus important to render vet help at the earliest. Surgery is the most commonly used treatment option for pets suffering from spinal cord trauma.

Diagnosis of Spinal Injuries in Cats

In order to diagnose the underlying severity and type of injury present, the vet will perform a physical examination and conduct X-rays. Myleograms are also conducted to diagnose internal abnormalities. Although CT scans and MRI tests are necessary for certain pets, they're expensive and performed by specialized vets.

Treatment for Feline Spinal Injury

Surgical intervention is necessary to treat fractures or traumas that include lacerated spinal cords. Anti-inflammatory medicines and antibiotics are used to treat internal inflammation and bacterial infection. Since spinal surgeries require post-operative care, most cats are kept in confinement and require a neck brace to provide support and minimize movement. As a long term solution, pet owners may choose to help pets recuperate with physical therapy, acupuncture and massage.

Since individual spinal injuries vary, it's best to work with the vet to determine the best treatment option. Follow up vet checks are necessary to determine response to medication and surgery.