What is Degenerative Myelopathy?
Degenerative Myelopathy is a non-curable neurological disease of the spinal cord that causes a slow but progressive weakness in the rear legs. It is similar to multiple sclerosis in people. The occurrence of this disease in cats is extremely rare.
How does my cat get Degenerative Myelopathy?
The cause is still unknown, but it is thought to be an autoimmune disease. Myelopathy associated with feline leukemia virus causes nerve damage and affects some cats who have been infected with the feline leukemia virus for more than two years.
How do I know if my cat has Degenerative Myelopathy?
The main signs are weakness in the hind legs and loss of motor control. This slow-developing, insidious disease is rarely detected until symptoms surface months later. It is easily mistaken for arthritis because weakness and ataxia in the rear legs mimic arthritic symptoms. Cats do not make successful jumps, appear to stumble and sway when walking. In later stages of this disease, a cat may become incontinent. Confirmation of degenerative myelopathy requires a complete physical exam and neurological assessment. Blood tests, radiographs, and special diagnostic procedures may be required to differentiate degenerative myelopathy from a number of conditions that present similarly.
What can I do about Degenerative Myelopathy?
This is a non-treatable condition. Exercise is suggested to maintain muscle tone, however, there have been no successful treatment protocols identified. Eventually, cats with this disease are unable to walk, making care challenging. Whenever possible, strive to eliminate stressful situations for your affected feline.
Is there anything I can do to prevent my cat from getting Degenerative Myelopathy?
At this point, there is nothing that can be done to prevent degenerative myelopathy.
Are there certain breeds that get Degenerative Myelopathy more often?
No specific cat breed has been linked to this rare feline condition. Males are more at risk than females.