Proprioceptive Dysfunction in Cats

The  proprioception  is one of the senses that has the cat. This term designates the animal’s perception of its body, both consciously and unconsciously. The  proprioceptive perception  allows the cat to have an incredible sense of balance, but also cats health problems may suffer proprioceptive deficits.

Next, I’ll explain what proprioception consists of and the consequences of its deficit or lack.

What is proprioception in cats?

The cat can walk without staggering on something very narrow. This sense of balance and control is allowed by your  sensor-  equipped  inner ear . Thanks to them, the cat can be partially aware of the degree of tension of its skin, its tissues, its tendons, its muscles, but also of the position in space of its head and its body. This proprioceptive perception is conscious and unconscious, but it is permanent .

Proprioception in cats is, therefore, a  deep sensitivity , acquired thanks to the  nervous information  that the receptors of their inner ear transmit to the  brain . As a result, the cat can continuously control its posture, as well as the movements of its body and head to maintain the most perfect balance.

This sense allows you to  optimize your behavior  so as not to fall, either voluntarily or instinctively. It is commonly said that the cat always falls on its paws. However, this is not always the case, as a cat can fall and even kill itself when falling. It all depends on the position of your body when you lose your balance, some positions are  more difficult to regain  than others. Therefore, the danger does not always depend on the height at which the cat is.

Feline proprioceptive dysfunction

Proprioceptive deficits are seen in abnormal body positions or movements in the cat. Loss of proprioception leads to abnormal limb placement when walking, abnormal position of the limbs at rest (legs crossed or legs bent down), and abnormal wear on the toes.

Loss of proprioception may be a nonspecific indication of neurological disease in the cat . Proprioceptive deficits may have little or no impact on the affected cat; however, its presence may indicate a serious or life-threatening illness and therefore should be addressed if it persists or worsens.

General causes of proprioceptive deficit in cats

  • Brain diseases.
  • Damage to the vestibular system responsible for balance.
  • Brain stem disorders.
  • Certain brain tumors.
  • Consequence of a traumatic, orthopedic or parasitic injury.
  • Spinal cord injuries.
  • Spinal injuries in cats.
  • Peripheral nerve disorder outside the brain and spinal cord.

Symptoms of feline proprioceptive deficit

A proprioceptive deficit can present several forms and will depend on the cause that originates it. Next, I show you some of the signs that can guide you when detecting a proprioceptive deficit in cats:

  • Abnormal posture of the limb at rest.
  • Weakness and seizures
  • Loss of balance He falls to the ground and has trouble getting up.
  • Abnormal wear of the toes.
  • Head tilt.
  • Urinary incontinence and urine leakage.
  • Partial loss of movement of a limb or limbs.
  • Paralysis of a limb or extremities.
  • Ataxia ,that is, uncoordinated movements and awkward walking.

Diagnosis of proprioceptive deficit in cats

Given the wide variety of injuries and conditions that can cause proprioceptive deficits, it is important for the veterinarian to identify the possible cause. It is only through accurate diagnosis of the specific area that effective treatment can be carried out.

At the vet visit, you must provide your cat’s complete medical and physical history. Difficulties in movement, previous injuries and the approximate age of the cat, if known, will be important diagnostic data. If the cat has been diagnosed with arthritis or other degenerative disorders, this will be important to help determine the cause of the proprioceptive deficits.

Among the diagnostic tests your vet will perform to establish the underlying cause of proprioceptive deficits in your cat:

  • A complete physical exam.
  • Complete blood count.
  • Urine analysis.
  • Biochemical profile.
  • Computed tomography.
  • Thoracic (chest) and abdominal x-rays (x-rays)
  • Myelogram (x-rays of the spinal cord after dye injection)
  • Cerebrospinal fluid analysis.
  • Magnetic resonance.

Treatment of proprioceptive deficits in cats

The recovery of a cat suffering from a proprioceptive deficit will depend on the underlying cause.

  • The strict reston a carrier will be vital for recovery. You will need to keep your cat separate, quiet, and in a quiet part of the house.
  • The heat therapy and coldwith heat and ice packs can help speed the healing process in the case of orthopedic injuries.
  • If severe neurological injury is the cause of proprioceptive deficits, some cats will never be able to regain full movement and use of their limbs. In this case, the vet can establish a plan to guarantee his good quality of life.
  • You may need surgeryfor a neurological injury to the spinal cord or an orthopedic injury.

Prevention at home

First, the important thing is to provide your cat with  early and specialized veterinary care  for its disease.

Once the cause of this condition has been found, it is best to offer your cat  rehabilitation therapy and physical therapy , to regain proprioception through specific movements and exercises. In addition, it will help relieve pain ,  maintain physical shape and prevent muscle atrophy. This process is essential to be successful in treating your pet, since recovery time decreases and excellent results will be seen.

If you suspect that your cat suffers from a proprioceptive deficit, go quickly to a vet to examine him and determine the seriousness of the situation.



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