Sudden Paralysis at 5 Weeks Old
A seal-point Himalayan called Porthos dragged himself after his littermates, paw over paw.
He wasn’t very fast because he was suddenly dragging his hind legs; they did not move at all.
I examined him carefully. He had a heart murmur so loud you could hear it just walking into a room where he was sitting. This is called a 6 out of 6 murmur. You don’t even need a stethoscope to hear the abnormal whooshing sound of the heart!
His little furry dark brown hind legs and his super-long swash-buckling tail hung limply. But they did not hurt him like they would if he had a blood clot stuck in his aorta back where the legs arteries branch off of the main aorta.
I surmised he had fallen and knocked hard against his spinal cord. The murmur I felt was probably from a patent foramen ovale.
A 5 week-old kitten with a murmur probably has a genetic or congenital problem. Genetic deformities occur because the gene coding is wrong. Congenital means something you’re born with, but it doesn’t have to be a flaw in the genetic coding. It could be an enzyme, protein, or physical problem.
(Geek alert) The foramen (hole) ovale (oval) is a hole in a fetus of a mammal like a cat, or a human, that allows blood to bypass the lungs on the fetus. After all, oxygen comes from mom through the umbilical cord, not from the lungs. At birth, the umbilicus is cut, the lungs open up, and the foramen has a thin film of membrane that closes it right over.
Some people and some animals have a hole that stays. If it is large, the heart doesn’t work right. There is a surgery for babies to close the defect. There is no such surgery for kittens.
Porthos made slow recovery. He went to a cardiologist 2 weeks later. No murmur, echocardiogram was clear, EKG was normal. Kittens are so tiny, a foramen could be missed. I’m convinced it closed over in between the first exam and the cardiology visit.
When Porthos was 8 weeks old, he wanted so badly to climb onto the bed his first night in his new home. His dad built a climbing mountain out of a sleeping bag and a comforter. He took Porthos’ little paws and directed his feet, paw over paw, up the fabric onto the bed. Just once! Little Porthos hauled himself up onto the bed every night all by himself.
Over the months, his hind legs got stronger and stronger. By the time he was 6 months old, he walked with only a slight wobble in his heals.
Today, Porthos is 12 years old. Neither his heart, nor his legs have ever bothered him again!
P.S. July 2, 2016. Porthos aka VirtuaCat is now 19 1/2 years old!