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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 32720
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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my cat is 9 years old and for the last 4 days his back legs

Customer Question

my cat is 9 years old and for the last 4 days his back legs have suddenly become very stiff, today he wont eat and wont move, he cries when i try to touch his back legs!
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 4 years ago.
Aloha! You're speaking with Dr. Michael Salkin
I'm sorry to hear of this with George. His painful back leg changes usually indicate a saddle thrombus - a blood clot in his aorta where that great vessel branches off into his hind legs. The legs become quite painful as ischemia (lack of blood supply) progresses. This is commonly seen secondary to advanced heart disease (cardiomyopathy/heart muscle disease). If a heart murmur has been heard during prior physical exams, cardiomyopathy is the likely etiology of his current presentation.

Hypothermia of the hind paws/legs is more supportive evidence for a blood clot. His hind feet/legs may feel colder to the touch than his front feet/legs. His femoral pulse would be weak or absent as well.

We also consider a myelopathy (spinal cord disorder) in these cats but the legs usually become hypopathic (lack of pain) rather than painful as you've described. George's vet should be able to differentiate which is the most likely etiology. Treatment, then, would be predicated upon what's found upon George's physical exam.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.