Thursday, February 7, 2008

What's Wrong With My Cats Legs?

By Darlene L. Norris

Is your cat having trouble walking? Are his feet slipping out from under him? Is he walking on his hocks (the "elbows" on his back legs), or on his wrists in the front? Does he have to lie down after a short walk? These are the symptoms of feline neuropathy.

In some kitties, weak legs can be the first sign of feline diabetes. If you already know your kitty has diabetes, this condition indicates that his blood sugar is out of control. He needs an immediate trip to the vet to get to the bottom of the problem.

Feline diabetes is caused when your kitty's body can't regulate his blood sugar levels. This is because either he's not producing enough insulin (type 1), or his body isn't responding to insulin anymore (type 2). In either case, eye, nerve, and kidney cells are more vulnerable to damage from high sugar levels because, unlike other cells, they don't need insulin to absorb sugar from the blood. There's nothing to stop them from taking in too much sugar, which causes internal damage to these cells. This is why it's so important for diabetics to keep their blood sugar under control.

Damage to nerve cells is called neuropathy. You may be able to improve your kitty's leg function, but it does take time and patience.

Before you can do anything about your furry friend's leg weakness, you do need to be sure his diabetes is under control. Many kitties improve when their sugar levels are controlled. In these cases, the leg weakness may have been caused by an electrolyte imbalance. Often this is because your kitty has been urinating too much, which is his body's way of trying to get rid of excess sugar.

Uncontrolled feline diabetes can also cause muscle wasting, and your buddy's leg problems can be due to muscle weakness. Regular exercise can help rebuild muscle. Gently tug on his legs so that he has to use his muscles to pull away. You can try holding his favorite treat above him as he leans on a footstool so he has to reach up for it. "Baby-walking," where you hold up his front end and walk him between your feet, can be helpful. He's able to move around, but he's not stressing those weakened muscles by putting all his weight on his back legs.

You may be able to help your furry friend by giving him methylcobalamin, also known as methyl B-12. This form of vitamin B-12 is active in spinal fluid. It helps to heal damaged nerve cells and restore the pathways between your kitty's brain and his muscles. Be sure you get methyl B-12, not regular B-12. This supplement is available at health food stores.

Give your fur ball three to five milligrams of methyl B-12 each day. Many cats have shown improvement within a few days, but it may take months for your kitty to recover fully. This is a safe supplement, as it's water soluble. What this means is that any excess leaves your kitty's body in his urine instead of building up in his tissues. Studies have shown that there are no side effects, even at high doses.

Feline neuropathy can be an alarming problem. But with proper blood sugar control, exercise, and the use of methyl B-12, your kitty friend can regain most, if not all, of his leg function.

Can feline diabetes be controlled with natural remedies? Visit Tips For Controlling Feline Diabetes Holistically to learn how to help your cat.

Darlene L. Norris has been owned by many kitties over the years. Now I've combined my love for cats and my life-long interest in herbs and healing at my new blog, Cool Cat Care Stuff. Information on natural remedies for cats can be hard to find. Stay up-to-date on the latest herbal and homeopathic treatments for your feline friends!

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