Cats can suffer paralysis as a result of numerous conditions. Paralysis in cats may affect only the rear legs or all four limbs. If your cat is experiencing paralysis, it will require dedicated efforts from you in order to maintain a good quality of life and avoid secondary health issues that can result from immobility.
Help with Elimination
Depending upon the cause of your cat’s paralysis, urination and defecation may be beyond the cat’s control. Loss of bowel and bladder control is one of the most challenging hurdles for pet owners to contend with when it comes to cat paralysis. In such cases, prepare to do laundry every day. Protect your flooring by placing a sheet of plastic underneath your cat’s primary resting spot. Floor protectors that are frequently used under office chairs are excellent options. The cat’s bedding will be positioned on top of this. You will need to swap out the cat’s bedding each time it eliminates in order to maintain the cat’s sense of cleanliness.
If your cat is able to drag itself to the litter box, encourage litter box use by providing a litter box with a very low side through which the cat will step and drag directly into the box. Consider using the bottom half of a disassembled plastic carrier. If your cat is able to drag itself to the location and still cannot enter the litter box, then replace the litter box with puppy training pads or absorbent towels placed over a plastic floor protector. Learn more about litter box training and medical issues.
Help with Grooming
Another problem of cat paralysis is that the cat may not be able to groom itself effectively. Help your cat to stay clean by gently brushing her coat daily. If your cat is a longhaired breed, you may opt to have the coat trimmed to a shorter length, especially if the cat seems painful during brushing sessions. Use a dry shampoo that is formulated for use in cats to clean the coat and remove elimination odors.
Provide the Right Bed
Paralyzed pets can develop sores on pressure points of their bodies when too much time is spent in one position. You can help to prevent these sores by providing your paralyzed cat with an orthopedic bed, which is designed to reduce pressure. Be sure to select a bed that your cat can drag itself onto without having to step over a high side. If your cat is completely paralyzed, reposition her frequently so that she lies on alternate sides.
Improve Floor Traction
Cats that are paralyzed in the rear legs will often attempt to walk with the front legs and drag their rear half along. If your cat is able to do this, a slippery tile or hardwood floor can be prohibitive and frustrating. Place bathroom throw rugs that have rubber backings on these surfaces along the cat’s preferred paths. The rubber back of the rug will grip the floor, and the carpeted surface will provide your cat with better traction. Examine your cat’s rear paws, knees, hips and the inner legs to make sure that the dragging activity is not causing scrapes or sores.
Many paralyzed cats adapt well to using wheelchair-like carts. If your cat still has motor function of the front legs, a cart will be helpful in enabling the cat to move to the food and water bowls and to other areas of the home when the cat is seeking out family companionship.
Follow Your Veterinarian’s Recommendations
Your veterinarian may prescribe pain management if your cat is in discomfort, and some cases of paralysis in cats may benefit from veterinary physical therapy. Your veterinarian is a valuable resource of information to help you and your cat. Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations and do not hesitate to ask questions in your quest to provide your paralyzed cat with an enjoyable quality of life.
Patience, Love and Adjustment
Taking care of a paralyzed cat is a commitment. Your cat can continue to enjoy life, but you will need to show patience. Adjustments will need to be made in your cat’s daily activities, and you will need to make accommodations to facilitate your cat’s comfort and enjoyment. Each cat’s situation is unique, and you will need to rediscover how to feed, groom and interact with your cat in ways that will work for you and your feline friend. Continue to spend quality time with your cat, find new ways to play with your cat and let your cat know that it is cherished, handicap and all.
Learn more about paralysis in dogs and how to take care of a disabled dog here.