If you care for an elderly, injured or special needs pet, you've come to the right place!
Hello everyone. I am looking for information on how to help a kitten with twisted back legs.
My daughter found them under a tree stump about three weeks ago. Mom was around, but young, feral, and very thin. We took the babies and brought them to our front porch, hoping mom would follow so that we could feed her. No such luck unfortunately, so we bottle fed and weaned the girls. They have been to see our vet who declared them to be healthy as far as she can tell. We'll be returning in a couple of weeks for first vaccines and FeLV/FIV tests. She recommended massage for the little one with the twisted back legs, (Cherry). We've been massaging her muscles, putting her through range of motion exercises and encouraging her to bend her toes.
One of Cherry's legs is completely limp. I have seen no evidence that she can use it at all. The other seems to have a shortened tendon. She can straighten the toes, but only if the leg is straight. If the leg is bent her toes curl under. She gets around by dragging her back legs. She actually gets around quite well this way. She keeps up with her sister most of the time. They wrestle and play together and chase each other across the room. We encourage her to use the leg, turning it around when she drags it behind her. Occasionally she will push with it and we have even seen her raise her back side up off of the ground a few times, but she still seems to be putting all of her weight on her front legs. While her sister Carey started using the litter box about a week and a half ago, Cherry is still going wherever she is. She gets daily baths (at least daily, sometimes two or three a day) and we isolate them both in the bathroom at night. During the day we clean up any messes we find and tonight I will be giving the carpet a steam cleaning.
Basically, I am looking for any advice that you all might have to offer. I would love to see this little girl get her legs under her eventually. Even if she ends up losing the limp leg, (Our vet has offered to do the surgery at cost if it comes to that.) a tri-pod cat would have a much easier life than one with two working legs. So any specific exercises or massage techniques would be appreciated. Also, I would like to know if the folks who have dealt with twisted leg kittens before experienced this kind of litter box trouble. I can't tell if she is incontinent, if getting into the litter box is just too much of a challenge, or if she just sees no reason to do so since she is unable to raise up her back end and will end up messy anyway. We have set up steps to allow her to get into the litter box and onto her favorite chair. Both are low and easy for her to access. I have seen her climb into the litter box and dig around, but she still goes pretty randomly wherever she is.
So thank you for any and all advice that you might have to offer. I am not giving up on this sweet, feisty little girl.
I am sorry to see you have not got any replies yet. There are several people here with experience with this sort of thing but not everyone checks in every day. I have no experience with this exact situation so anything I say would have to be general. Yesterday's News cat litter is made of recycled paper and it is good for a cat that sits in the litter because it does not stick in the fur and gum up the coat like the normal clay or clumping litter would do. It comes in regular pellets and another style that is smaller, softer pellets. If your kitten makes a wet spot in the litter while lying in it or drags through a wet spot, she should come out of the box clean without litter stuck all over her (if she is indeed able to urinate voluntarily). It sounds like you understand a lot about kittens and neurology from your post, you hit all the important questions, unfortunately I don't know the answers either. Bless you for rescuing her and bathing and massaging her, she is fortunate.
It would be hard for anybody to know if the kitten has control yet when the kitten has just reached the age to start urinating independently. If she digs but nothing happens, it seems more likely she is incontinent but I don't know. When she wets on the floor, how often does it happen? Is she defecating normally as far as you can tell? Have you noticed any ability to move her tail or does it just drag? If you pick her up and apply a stimulus to her anus such as a light tap or the touch of an ice cube, does it contract, pucker, "wink"? If you see no tone in the anus whatsoever, I'd be more inclined to think she is probably incontinent. If that is the case, then there are tried and true ways to deal with incontinence, so you have a healthy pet and a house you can live in. If she is incontinent, I would want to know if she is urinating (making wet spots) from overflow, or just dribbling all the time. If she is urinating from overflow, then expressing the bladder is the answer. Here is some information about that, with videos at the end.
http://www.handicappedpets.com/mediawik ... dog_or_cat
If she is dribbling all the time but staying empty, then diapering while she is out in the house, would be the answer.
http://www.handicappedpets.com/mediawik ... male_wraps
I think when you take her to the vet, it would be a good idea to have the vet palpate her colon and see if she is at all constipated. One of the pitfalls with bowel incontinence, especially in cats, it the tendency to become constipated, or develop megacolon (I'd google that if you haven't encountered it before). There are ways to help the cat stay regular with diet, medication if needed, and massage if needed. This article also has videos at the end.
http://www.handicappedpets.com/mediawik ... inent_pets
Hope this helps a little, and hope some of the people who have raised kittens like this will be along soon. I would love to know further updates on the kitten and hear what you learn at the vet.
Thank you so much for your reply! Cherry has just had a bath, and since we were washing the area anyway I did the tap test. she definitely "winked" and she is able to move her tail, so signs point to continent! By a stroke of luck we are already using Yesterday's News. I am going to try setting up a lower box for her. Maybe the kitten sized one that we have is still to much of a challenge when she has to go. Somewhere I have a tray that I bought for my family to put muddy shoes on. It only has about a one inch lip, which should be enough to keep the litter in but shouldn't be too challenging for her to climb in and out of. Now, it's just a matter of remembering what I did with the thing.
She seems to be pretty regular luckily. They were diagnosed with hook worms at their vet visit so they were on Panacur for five days. And at the same time, every pet store for 20 miles ran out of KMR, so they underwent a food switch. Those were a rough couple of days. Every towel in our house went through the wash in 48 hours time. Thank goodness for pumpkin! We were able to wean them onto a gruel of poached chicken, brown rice, GNC weaning formula, pumpkin and yogurt. By the time they were off the Panacur they had firm stools again and weaning was underway. We gradually transitioned them over to kitten food and have had no more trouble in that department. I will still have the vet palpate her, just in case her motility is low. I worked in a vet's office for a couple of years and saw a few cases of megacolon. Not fun for anyone involved. Poor kitties.
Thank you again for all of your help and your kind words. In my opinion we're the lucky ones. We get to have kittens in our house for a while! We have a houseful of pets at the moment, but I have a good friend who is interested in taking them in once they are a little bigger. Of course, that will depend on how things go with Cherry's leg. If she ends up being a two legged cat we may end up adding them to our large family of critters permanently. Luckily, I have an understanding husband.
Have a great week!
Sounds like you are doing everything right for little Cherry. I had a paraplegic cat” Trooper” that lived for a year after being run over by a car. It was my first kitty that couldn't use his back legs. The tray for litter is exactly what I did and it worked great. He got a long as well as my other cats. He died suddenly, we think from a fall maybe. He might have had some undiagnosed, unseen internal injury from being run over that ”tore”, because he was really healthy.
One thing I did that helped with urinary health was to add a couple of drops of Apple Cider Vinegar to his water bowl every day. This also worked in relieving a UTI when I first found him. I had to limit him to a large room because of my dogs, but all my kitties loved him and would stay in with him.
Good luck, wish I could add more. Hard to think right now because I just lost my oldest kitty Buffy yesterday...she was 18, died in her sleep. Now her sister Jazzy who is 17 is very depressed and looks like she may join her sister very soon. I'm giving her lots of love and telling her its okay. My other cats, and my zoo of doggies all miss her too.
Oh, the best thing for you is the understanding husband. Mine is that way too. What would we do without them? Give Cherry a hug and hang in there. Its definitely worth it. If I can remember anything else I'll let you know.
"When a child loves you for a long, long time...REALLY loves you, then you become Real." " Does it hurt?"
"Sometimes..When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
Words I live by from "Velveteen Rabbit"
Oh, I am so sorry for your loss! I know how hard it is, especially when you've had a pet with you for such a long time. they become such a part of your life. You and your poor grieving kitty are in my thoughts.
Thank you so much for your advice. Cherry seems to be trying to get the stronger of her back legs under her. She is using her knees on both sides now when she walks, and occasionally she will turn her left leg around. Unfortunately, she is still not using the box. I have looked into patterns for pet diapers, but I don't want to add any extra weight to her right now, since she's trying so hard to walk. Thank goodness for carpet cleaners.
We should be heading back to the vet next week. I will keep you all posted.
I would have the vet check to see if she is emptying her bladder. If she is able to empty she shouldn't be piddling all over the place. To me it sounds like she is overflowing and leaking out. If she isn't able to empty I would learn to express her bladder. Urine left to sit in a bladder is a breeding ground for bacteria which can lead to a dangerous bladder infection not to mention a flaccid bladder from not being emptyied completely. (Bladder infections in a small kitten can be so dangerous.) Even if the vet says she is emptying I would still express her to prevent urine scalding and messes around the house. Learning to express her now is the wise thing to do. Plus, a kitten leaking is one thing but an adult cat leaking can be a real mess. /Jean
PS: I have 2 paralyzed cats and 3 Manx cats that I express. My oldest cat Jaime I have been expressing for almost 14 years. The one thing to always consider with a cat with hind limb problems is whether or not they are incontinent as well. It is fine to be concerned about her walking but her bladder problem is the real concern and a situation that will likely take her life if it is not addressed. I would make an appointment with your vet and leave her for the day to get her incontinence issues evaluated.
I forgot to mention something. My cat Jaime has nerve damage. Her tail waves all over the place. When you pinch her tail she responds. Her anus contracts but her nerves do not function normally. As a result, she is incontinent. She could never empty her bowel or bladder by herself.
Hopefully, your kitten will show improvement but till then you need to keep that bladder expressed and small. If the bladder is allowed to fill and fill until it finally empties (Which is what it sounds like Cherry is doing ) then you will likely end up with bladder damage later on and/or a raging infection.
As a rule of thumb, ALWAYS consider that incontinence may be an issue when you see hind limb problems. /Jean
I hope you have a knowledgeable Vet. Fourteen years ago my vet had never even seen a cat with paralysis. Boy has he had an education.
Thank you for the information. Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. My mom is in town for two weeks and I have been on the go with limited access to the computer since Wednesday.
I felt her bladder. From what I can tell it does seem large, but I am woefully out of practice at all of this. Also, she is so small and, since she can't stand on her back feet, I'm having trouble getting a good enough grip on her bladder to express it. The whole time she is screaming and since I haven't done this in a decade or so I am terrified of hurting her/rupturing her bladder. I managed to get a little bit of urine tonight, but it still doesn't feel empty. I will be bringing them back into the vet this week and I will discuss it with her. I don't really know how much experience our vet has with paralysis.
Cherry does seem to be using the back legs more at least. A good friend of our family was going to adopt them when they were old enough if we could get Cherry walking and using the box. He is a novice cat owner though, and I'm pretty sure that taking care of Cherry as she is would be out of his league. So unless things improve drastically in the next few weeks I will be looking for a home for my little girls. I would love to keep them, and if I can't find anyone who is willing to give Cherry the kind of care that she needs I will keep them, but I really do have a houseful right now.
Anyway, thanks again for your advice. I will check back in after we've been back to the vet.
GREAT !!!!!! I'm glad to hear that you will be taking little Cherry to the vet. Try to get her in tomorrow if possible. Even if your vet has no experience with paralysis she should still be able to instruct you on expressing her bladder.
Please keep us updated./Jean
Just wanted to update you folks. We brought Cherry and her sister in for their first vaccines yesterday. The vet said that they are looking good and ready to adopt. She showed me how to express Cherry's bladder, which I have been doing three times a day since. (I was way too far forward on her belly. The doc described it to me as a cherry tomato or a grape on a kitten this small, which was very helpful.) Twice I have expressed it successfully and twice it was empty when I went to express it. I wondered if perhaps the sensation of having the bladder emptied has triggered the nerves in that area, and that this might be a sign that she will eventually develop bladder control? Wishful thinking probably, but I will continue to express her. They also had their FeLV/FIV test, which came back negative.
I will be posting Cherry's info in the adoptions section of this website. If you know of anyone who might be interested in adopting my sweet little girl, please send them our way. We are in Southern Maryland, but willing to travel to meet up with Cherry's adoptive family or with a transporter. I am asking for references, including a veterinary reference since Cherry's needs are more extensive than your average cats. If there is anything else that I am not thinking of, please let me know. I would love to keep this little one myself, but my house is so full already. I will of course keep her for as long as it takes to find her a forever home.
Thank you to everyone for answering my questions and helping me to deal with this. I was feeling pretty lost before I found this website, and you've helped me and Cherry immensely. Well, no more putting it off. Time to post that adoption notice. I wrote it earlier today so that I wouldn't have to write and post it all at once. *sniffle*
I saw the picture of Cherry that you posted under the Rescue section. She is so adorable !!!
I'm glad you got her into the Vet. Just one thought. I had kind of forgotten how small and little kitten's bladders can be. If I were you, I would check her 6 hours after you express her. With such a small bladder she is likely filling up and overflowing. With larger cats you can go longer but like I have said previously it is important to keep the bladder from stretching and overflowing. If this happens to many times, you may end up with a bladder that is flaccid and harder to express and you may need meds to fully express her. In addition, she would be more prone to bladder infections. So, for a better long term outcome keep the bladder as small as possible.
I'm sure it is difficult to let little Cherry go out into the "big world".
Hopefully, someone on this site will be able to offer her a home. Screen the applicants carefully. With her being so tiny and cute one is automatically drawn to her but you need to make sure they are aware of the commitment. She could easily live for 12-15 years or longer. She will need to be expressed at least every 6- 8 hours. She will need to be cared for every day of her life. Vacations will be difficult. If I leave town I always take mine with me. When a different careprovider cares for them they often get sick because the new caregiver doesn't understand their unique needs. This is true for a vet clinic as well. The new caregiver if they work will have to come right home and care for her. Many with paralyzed pets try to find a home near where they work so they can care for them on their lunch breaks. I take 3 of mine to a vet near where I work and express them on my lunch break. Make sure anyone interested in her understands the importance of finding and maintaining a working relationship with a receptive Veterinarian. Also, the adopter needs to be aware that with her being paralyzed she is likely to have frequent bladder infections. These infections must be addressed promptly as every infection is an insult to her kidneys. A paralyzed pet can be expensive. Medications and bladder Cultures will likely also be a major expense as she gets older.
I guess what I'm try to say is to make sure the adopter is fully aware of the commitment needed to care for her. A paralyzed pet who doesn't receive consistent care and veterianary attention will not live long.
Good luck to you and little Cherry !!!! Jean
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