All cats should have strong, balanced back legs that allow for effortless running, walking, and even jumping. Many conditions can have an impact on the back legs, resulting in lameness, weakness, instability, poor balance, and even total collapse. This article aims to explain the various causes of the weakening and collapsing of the rear legs, as well as the investigations required to identify the problem’s root cause and the potential remedies that could follow.
Cat can’t jump with back legs
Cats have strong back legs that they use to prowl, run, climb, and jump during their daily activities, like hunting. Strong muscles, a plentiful blood supply, and a complex nerve supply work together to support the function of the back legs. For a variety of reasons, the muscles, blood supply, and nerves may stop operating normally. When this happens, the back legs may deteriorate and become incapable of adequately supporting the cat’s weight.
The cat is then dragged behind by its hindquarters, which flop down and are either carried lower than usual or even collapse completely as a result. The cat may initially just limp before developing more serious symptoms like trouble walking. When the cat engages in certain distinct behaviors, such as using the litter box or going upstairs, owners may notice the signs.
- The medical term for both of the back legs’ weakness is called paraparesis.
- The medical term for complete paralysis of both hind legs is called paraplegia.
The front legs may also be impacted by some causes; if all four legs are weak, this condition is referred to as quadriparesis; if all four legs are paralyzed, this condition is referred to as quadriplegia.
How common is it for a cat to not be able to jump with their back legs?
The less frequent condition of paraplegia (paralysis), which is more severe, is more common than paraparesis (weakness of the back legs). Both conditions are frequently seen in bustling veterinary clinics.
Cat can’t jump with back legs: Causes
Any condition that impairs the back legs’ blood supply, muscle, or nerve function may cause them to collapse. Below is a list of the main, widespread causes.
- Spinal disease, The normal operation of the spinal cord, which supplies the back legs’ nerve supply, can be disrupted by a variety of conditions, ranging from trauma to slipped discs to tumors, resulting in weakness and collapse. There is a small chance that certain brain-related illnesses will be at play.
- Vascular disease, Blood flow to the back legs can be disrupted by conditions like blood clots (for instance, thromboembolism affecting blood vessels like the aorta, also known as a saddle thrombus), which can result in extreme weakness and collapse. Cardiomyopathies, for example, can predispose to this problem.
- Metabolic diseases, Unusual symptoms, such as a neuropathy resulting in a plantigrade stance of the hind legs, can be caused by conditions like feline diabetes mellitus and may manifest as the collapse of the back legs. Other metabolic conditions (like kidney disease) can also lead to weakness, which can manifest as weakness in the back legs. These problems might be more common in older cats. Sometimes more generalized illnesses, like feline infectious peritonitis, can also result in the collapse of the back legs.
- Trauma of any kind can damage collapse is brought on by the physical makeup of the back legs, which extends from the feet to the pelvis. Both the soft tissues and the bones may be impacted by this (for example, sprained muscles and tendons). Additionally possible is nerve damage.
- Old age changes, Lameness, weakness, and collapse of the cat’s hind end can result from a variety of conditions, including osteoarthritis (caused, for instance, by hip dysplasia).
Symptoms of Collapse of the Back Legs
The cat should be able to move normally thanks to the strong back legs that support the hindquarters in a normal position and the legs’ normal motion. The hindquarters are held lower than usual when the back legs collapse, and the back legs do not move normally, allowing the feet to drag behind the cat, stumble, or be in the wrong position (e.g., the upper side of the feet being dragged on the ground).
Investigating the Collapse of the Back Legs
If your cat experiences a collapse of the back legs, you must immediately take them to your DVM veterinarian as part of responsible pet care in order to determine the root of the issue and to receive treatment. The following actions might be taken by your veterinarian:
1. A Detailed History Taken
Your cat’s condition will be discussed in detail, and their general health will be examined by your veterinarian. The back legs collapsing could be caused by a variety of different factors, and this history will help to distinguish between them. Older cats are more likely than younger cats to experience specific issues.
2. Physical Examination
Your cat’s body will be thoroughly examined by your veterinarian, who will feel the back legs, pelvis, and spine for any physical abnormalities like instability, swelling, or disruptions. Additionally, they will perform a neurological examination and test your cat’s hind leg reflexes. If only one hindlimb is affected, they will focus their attention on that limb in particular. In case there are any additional symptoms of illness that might be linked to the issue with the rear limbs, the entire cat is also given a thorough physical examination. This will involve taking the cat’s temperature and using a stethoscope to listen to their chest.
3. Routine blood tests
Your veterinarian will almost certainly perform blood work, including the standard panel of diagnostic tests like hematology (blood count) and biochemistry profiles (including important electrolytes such as potassium). This is referred to as the “minimum database,” and it is used to review the majority of sick cats, regardless of the illness’s symptoms.
4. Specialized blood tests
Given the serious consequences if your cat tests positive for FeLV or FIV, your veterinarian may advise specific blood tests for these viral infections.
5. Other Tests
It is possible to use radiography (x-rays) to examine the spine, pelvis, and hind legs in greater detail. More thorough diagnostic imaging (like a CT or MRI scan) may also be advised depending on the circumstances.
Treatment For Collapse Of The Back Legs
Depending on the cause, there are many different approaches to treating collapsed back legs.
- Spinal disease Simple causes might just call for strict rest combined with anti-inflammatory medication, or, in more serious circumstances, spinal surgery.
- Vascular disease, Intensive veterinary care is required for conditions like blood clots (for instance, aortic thromboembolism), which includes administering painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs in addition to treating the underlying heart condition.
- Metabolic diseases, such as diabetes mellitus, necessitate stabilization with the particular metabolic problem treatment (e.g., restoring normal blood glucose levels in diabetes mellitus).
- Traumatic injuries treatment for the physical damage is necessary, ranging from minor surgical correction in minor cases to anti-inflammatory pain relief, supportive supplements, and strict rest (e.g., some fractured bones).