Cat had a muscle contraction attack
May 12, 2016 3:31 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone help figure out what happened to my cat?

He was walking down the hallway a little weird and then his back legs starting giving out and his back started to contract and curl to one side. Eventually all of his paws, tail, and body were curling up out of his control. He seemed uncomfortable and slightly scared but didn't seem super distressed or in pain. I tried comforting him, but I could tell he didn't want me to touch him.

The complete immobility passed after about 30 seconds and then he got up and walked into the other room still having trouble stretching out his muscles, limping with his tail and back still curled/arching. After sitting there for awhile he returned completely to normal. He's completely fine now; he's actually on the bed next to me purring and getting some love.

He's a little old man at 17 years old. I'll probably call my vet tomorrow, but wanted to see if anyone thinks it's serious.

It doesn't seem like it was a seizure or stroke based on googling and I can't figure out what it could be. Anyone know what what this could have been?

Thanks a bunch in advace
posted by mayonnaises to Pets & Animals (15 answers total)
CALL THE VET do not fuck around. We can't tell you, you need professional advice about seemingly neurological events causing temporary paralysis in your cat.
posted by tel3path at 4:20 PM on May 12, 2016 [21 favorites]

Yes, tel3path is right on the money. This is not "I'll probably call my vet tomorrow" territory. At all. Ever. Especially in an elderly cat.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 4:29 PM on May 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

I would call the vet right away. If the regular vet is closed, call an emergency vet and ask questions. Describe what happened exactly as you did in writing here. They'll probably tell you to come in right away; that kind of sudden change can be something serious (though it doesn't have to be), and it's better to have it checked out ASAP than let it wait overnight. I'm not a veterinary professional and I hesitate to speculate too much but I wouldn't wait to call the vet if I were you.

Wishing the best for your sweet old man!
posted by adastra at 4:29 PM on May 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

I don't know what you saw on Google because this sounds exactly like a stroke.
posted by tippy at 4:32 PM on May 12, 2016 [5 favorites]

Call the vet right now what the heck
posted by destructive cactus at 4:40 PM on May 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

I would not wait. Call the vet, now. Best wishes for your kitty.
posted by Jubey at 4:47 PM on May 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Obviously not knowing what you saw via Google, but:
This could still have been a very mild or not quite complete seizure. Our cat has them, and sometimes before and after the "real" ones, he'll have much smaller events. For example, it seems from your description like he went tonic but not grand mal. "Seizure" covers a fair bit of ground in terms of severity, and there's a general association/media presentation of just the more violent end of the spectrum.

Do at least call your vet to see what they think. (If they have a free help line, do it now just to check in.) If your cat hasn't obviously eaten anything weird or been hurt, then it's worth a check to see if something physiological has changed. Assuming not, you'll probably just be told to watch for it happening again.
posted by Su at 5:25 PM on May 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

For a 17 year old cat, this can wait until tomorrow. Honestly ask yourself what you're willing to spend and do to an elderly cat to prolong its life.
posted by paulcole at 5:40 PM on May 12, 2016 [5 favorites]

This sounds like what happened to our sweet boy Otis about a year ago, when he was only three. He was unable to move for about 30-45 seconds and was yowling in pain. We took him to the vet, and he was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The vet told us he would not live a long life, and would likely die from either a stroke (his heart would let loose a clot which would block his femoral artery) or congestive heart failure.

Sadly, the vet was right. Otis died in mid-March from a stroke. Thankfully, my husband was here with him. I miss my boy, but we were so lucky to have had him for the time that we did.
posted by Wet Hen at 6:13 PM on May 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Saddle thrombosis, maybe?
posted by webwench at 6:20 PM on May 12, 2016

For a 17 year old cat, this can wait until tomorrow. Honestly ask yourself what you're willing to spend and do to an elderly cat to prolong its life.

I'm sorry, but no. First of all, contacting the vet or even visiting the vet right now does not equal spending thousands of dollars on care. It just equals figuring out what is wrong.

Second, what if the cat is in pain, and is just hiding it well? In that case, even though it's old, the humane thing to do would be to euthanize it promptly if treatment isn't feasible.

Just because an animal is old, just because you might not choose to spend big bucks on life-prolonging care, doesn't mean the animal doesn't deserve prompt medical attention.

OP, please contact your vet.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 6:31 PM on May 12, 2016 [19 favorites]

Has he been treated for hyperthyroid?

If so, that would make it more likely that he has
Hypoparathyroidism is characterized by low calcium levels, high phosphate levels, and either temporary or permanent insufficiency of parathyroid hormone. It is uncommon in cats, but can be caused by previous removal of the parathyroid glands as a treatment for hyperthyroidism or for a parathyroid tumor. Common signs of hypocalcemia include muscle tremors and twitches, muscle contraction, and generalized convulsions. Diagnosis is based on history, signs, low calcium and high phosphorus levels, and the serum parathyroid hormone level. Other causes of hypocalcemia must be eliminated
Other problems, such as kidney malfunction, can also cause calcium levels to get too low and produce muscle contractions.
posted by jamjam at 8:26 PM on May 12, 2016

I am not a vet and even if I were I couldn't diagnose your cat over the Internet. You should definitely call your vet. However, to me, what you described sounds very much like a seizure. I am less likely to think it's a stroke since you say it resolved in a few minutes, but again, not a vet (or an M.D., though I have dealt with both seizures and strokes in animals before).

Because you say you'll call the vet tomorrow, I'm guessing this happened after normal business hours where you are and your vet was closed. Emergency after-hours vet care (if it is available where you are) can be extremely expensive even for minor treatment. Since you say he seems completely fine now, this doesn't sound like an immediate emergency, but a sudden seizure in an animal with no previous history of seizures (or any other neurological events) could be indicative of something wrong. If it were my cat, I would monitor for signs of pain/distress throughout the evening (maybe set an alarm to check on him once or twice during the night, because I'm a worrier), and call the vet first thing in the morning. Another similar event before then would be cause for a trip to the emergency vet.

Good luck.
posted by biogeo at 8:50 PM on May 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

Our cat who was already ill at the time died from what was probably saddle thrombosis. She lost control of her back legs and didn't recover. Did you notice if his feet were colder than usual?
posted by oneear at 9:12 PM on May 12, 2016

My cat had what we think is a stroke and this exact thing happened. She was 16. We took her to the vet and that was pretty much the end. If your cat were young, I might think it was a seizure (which would still be serious and require vet care) but this seems to be a classic feline stroke symptom for older cats. You should take your cat to the vet to make sure he's not suffering. Brace yourself for the fact that you may have to euthanize him.
posted by i feel possessed at 6:13 PM on May 13, 2016

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