Cat resting on the floor.


Paralysis can be defined as a disruption of the nervous system leading to an impairment of motor function and/or feeling to a particular region or regions of the body.

This impairment can be in the form of a spasticity of the muscles in the involved region, or these muscles may become completely limp. In either case, the muscles involved are unable to function in the manner in which they were intended.

Paralysis involving the sensory portion of the nervous system can result in an increased sensitivity to pain or in a complete absence of it. Finally, paralysis resulting in the inefficient function of certain internal organs can occur as well if the nerves supplying these structures are disrupted in any way.

Any disease or disorder that traumatizes the brain, spinal cord, and nerves has the potential to cause paralysis. In cats, some of the more common causes seen by veterinarians include infectious dis- eases and parasites, being hit by a car, ruptured disks, and in the case of facial muscle paralysis, ear infections.

Treatment of paralysis is geared toward identifying and treating the underlying cause. If it has been caused by trauma, anti-inflammatory agents combined with drugs designed to draw fluid out of the central nervous system might help reverse signs of paralysis, yet their usefulness is dependent on the extent of the nervous injury and how quickly therapy is instituted.

Pets that have sensory paralysis in a limb might require limb amputation to prevent self-mutilation of the leg. In instances where an irreversible paralysis involves more than one limb, or involves the malfunction of internal organs, pet owners must seriously consider not only their pet’s quality of life as a paralytic but their own as well, before prolonged therapeutic or rehabilitative measures are undertaken.