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Can't move back legs.

Species: Cat
Breed: polydactyl
Age: 2-5 years
My cat could not get up using its back legs. Her front legs were working but she lost control of her back legs, let some urine out. She was acting like her back had been broken or had some type of spinal injury. This lasted for about 30 sec and then she stood up and walked like nothing had happened. This happened on Thursday and just now happened again. She is an outside cat so I don't know how often this is occurring. She does seem to be breathing harder. She does not have any marks on her. She is up to date on her shots. Not sure what to do?


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh dear. This does not sound good.

The most common reason for the symptoms that you have described is something called aortoiliac thrombosis, or saddle thrombus.

A saddle thrombus happens when a cat gets a blood clot in the aorta which is the major artery leaving the heart. The blood clot can affect blood supply to the back legs. When this happens it is quite painful in the back legs.

Cats only get saddle thrombus if they have a problem with their heart. Cats can often hide heart disease well, but the difficulty in breathing can definitely be a sign of heart disease.

It is possible that she had a small clot originally and the body managed to clear it, but now another one has formed. Unfortunately, even though we have treatments that we usually try for saddle thrombus most cats do not survive. I usually recommend euthanasia when I have a patient with saddle thrombus.

There are other possibilities. It is possible that she has suffered some trauma to her spine. If this is the case then the sooner she sees a vet the better. They may be able to give her some anti-inflammatory medication and she could possibly recover.

There are other possibilities that are less likely than the two I mentioned.

If it is at all possible, I really would advise that Gracie sees an emergency vet right away. There are two reasons for this. First of all, if this is a spinal injury, then seeing the vet right away could be the difference between life and death. Second, if this is a saddle thrombus then she is in a lot of pain and that is not fair for her.

I really really hope that she is ok.

Dr. Marie.


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Thank you for your quick reply. Unfortunately, Gracie died this evening. I think your diagnosis of saddle thrombus may have been correct.
Again, thank you for your time and concern.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I'm so sorry to hear that Gracie died. Thank you for letting me know.

Dr. Marie



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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.