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Mochi’s Journey with Polyneuropathy

Feline polyneuropathy is a rare condition that affects the peripheral nerves in cats, resulting in damage to the nerve cells. This disease causes a range of symptoms, including muscle weakness and wasting, loss of coordination, and difficulty walking or standing. Some cats may also experience tremors and in extreme cases can struggle to lift their heads and may be unable to breath without ventilatory support.

While the exact cause of feline polyneuropathy is not fully understood, it is believed to be related to certain toxins, infections, or immune-mediated factors. Unfortunately, for cats like Mochi, the origin of this condition remains a mystery, otherwise known as idiopathic.

When Mochi arrived at The Ralph, he was severely tetraparetic, which means he had lost function in all four of his limbs. Our neurology team conducted a thorough examination and discovered that Mochi had no reflexes in his limbs. He also had impaired facial nerve function and was not responding to stimuli, such as blinking.

Blinking is key to keeping the eyes lubricated, so of course when a being has reduced ability to blink, their eyes are not well lubricated. As such, keeping his eyes manually lubricated with eye drops at all times during his stay helped prevent eye ulcers from developing.

Mochi’s blood test results were normal, and it was unlikely that his polyneuropathy was due to exposure to any toxins. It was possible that his condition stemmed from an abnormal immune response or was of idiopathic origin, meaning no specific cause can be found.

To obtain a definitive diagnosis, our neurology team planned to perform muscle and nerve biopsies (where small pieces of muscle and sections of nerves are surgically removed and tested in a lab to help determine the cause of the disease). However, since Mochi had already started to show significant improvement – as is sometimes the case in this condition where patients start to spontaneously improve – it was decided to postpone these investigations.

Instead, the physiotherapy team created an exercise plan to help Mochi regain his strength and mobility. The plan was designed to help him become stronger and more mobile while reducing the risk of future complications, and it proved to be successful. 

Mochi’s exercise plan included functional exercises such as rolling from side to side when lying down, supported sitting, supported standing and assisting Mochi to take steps initially while he was an inpatient. Care was also taken to make sure his joints did not get stiff while he was too weak to move his legs himself. As he grew stronger and he was able to do these things by himself, the exercises changed to target strengthening of the muscles with activities such as stepping over poles on the floor, standing on 3 legs and reaching up to play with toys, then moving on to climbing and jumping as he became stronger still.

Despite the long road to recovery, Mochi was incredibly determined and showed remarkable progress. In the early physio sessions, he surprised everyone by managing to sit up and take a few steps for some yummy treats. His determination was evident!

Over the space of only a few days, Mochi’s mobility continued to improve. He started walking with assistance and, eventually, could walk a few times without any support. By the time he went home, Mochi was able to sit by himself, stand up from sitting and walk 2 – 3 metres unaided, albeit very wobbly! His eye health had also improved.

After a few weeks, Mochi came back for a follow-up, and our neurology and physiotherapy teams were thrilled to see that he had made a remarkable recovery. He had regained almost all of his movement, and his carers reported that he was even running and jumping at home. 

His carers have done a wonderful job of keeping a close eye on him and continuing his  exercises at home. Mochi, with his charming personality, has won the hearts of many here at The Ralph, and we are invested in his recovery, one pawstep at a time! Here are some bonus pictures of Mochi at home:

Thank you for reading Mochi’s story. For regular patient stories and news from The Ralph, follow us on InstagramFacebook and LinkedIn.

Take care,

Team Ralph 🐾

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