11-year-old Pixel had been showing signs of stiffness, which sadly deteriorated to paralysis in all four of her limbs. She arrived at The Ralph in a collapsed state, and unable to move by herself.
Pixel was examined by our Neurology Clinician, Chris, and our Neurology Intern, Despoina. They identified several abnormalities, including neurogenic muscle atrophy (muscle wasting), severely reduced muscle tone, and absent reflex responses. It was therefore suspected Pixel had a type of motor neuron disease called polyradiculoneuritis. This is an uncommon disease in cats associated with inflammation of the nerves and nerve roots which causes muscle weakness and paralysis.
To find out if there was an underlying cause of Pixel’s polyradiculoneuritis, a full diagnostic investigation was conducted. For example, in some instances of polyradiculoneuritis, there may be an underlying infection or even neoplasia (a mass).
Blood tests, urine tests, X-rays and abdominal ultrasound all appeared to be normal. It was therefore concluded that Pixel had idiopathic polyradiculoneuritis, which means no clear cause could be identified for Pixel’s condition.
Pixel was admitted to our Cat Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and remained in the hospital for 18 days. During this time she received intensive therapy and round the clock care by our clinical team of vets, nurses and patient care assistants. Her treatment included pain relief and anti-inflammatory medications for her chronic stifle orthopaedic disease, along with antibiotics to treat the aspiration pneumonia which she had developed as a complication of her disease. Aspiration pneumonia is inflammation and possible infection of the lungs, most often caused by inhalation of stomach contents.
To build up her muscle strength, Pixel had regular physiotherapy sessions with our Head of Physiotherapy, Kim, and our rehabilitation nurse, Louise. Physiotherapy is an essential part of treatment for patients like Pixel who have a neuromuscular disease.
Pixel improved day by day and was discharged home after 18 days with us. She was still unable to walk unaided at this point, but at her most recent check up she was walking completely fine on her own. A remarkable improvement!
Pixel is continuing with her physiotherapy exercises at home and has made a full recovery.
Her carers, Gary and Charlotte, said:
“Pixel improved dramatically in the first 7 days of returning home and was more or less back to her usual self. Her appetite has doubled since before her condition so she spends her days eating lots, sleeping and having a mad half hour where she runs around… currently she is sleeping on our bed. She has returned to perform her jump-e-cat routine whereby she jumps high in the air and high 5’s with her paws.”