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My cat had a funny turn: what's wrong?

(Q) A few days ago, my cat was lying down with a glazed look on her face. When she got up her back legs were wobbly, but after about five minutes she was fine. What happened to her?

(A) Feline specialist Elsie Robertson says: A Generalized weakness may occur secondary to heart disease or a variety of other illnesses. In cats with heart disease, weakness is caused by a decreased amount of blood being pumped by the heart to the rest of the body. This may be due to an abnormal rhythm (arrhythmia), an obstruction in the blood flow to the back legs, or high blood pressure which can be primary in cause or secondary due to heart disease, kidney disease, or an overactive thyroid.

Other causes of occasional weakness in the back legs may be associated with low potassium, which is needed for strength and coordinated muscular contraction. But in cats, the most common cause of hindlimb weakness or paralysis is a blood clot which can block the large blood vessels feeding the back legs, also called a saddle thrombus or arterial thromboembolism. 

A clot lodging in the back leg can be either partial or complete in nature and is often a result of heart disease. It results in the sudden appearance of hind leg weakness, sudden paralysis, limb pain and cold rear legs. The development of a clot to one or more limbs is an emergency situation and veterinary care should besought immediately