Common Nerve injury in kitties
Radial nerve paralysis is a common nerve injury in cats and dogs. The radial nerve is the largest nerve in the
cat’s front leg. Paralysis of the radial nerve normally occurs when the cat receives a severe blow to her shoulder after being knocked down by a car. Other causes include tumours and excessive stretching of the brachial plexus.
When the radial nerve is injured, the cat is unable to use her front leg normally. The front leg appears limp and there is a complete loss of sensation in the affected limb. The cat will not be able to extend her elbow and wrist and will tend to drag her front leg on the ground causing it more injuries. The injured cat should be immediately examined by a veterinarian.
Treating the injury…
Treatment depends on the severity of the injury. If there is no injury but the nerve is nipped or bent, then normal functions of the nerve will return. If the injury is a rupture of nerve fibres, with the protective sheath intact, the nerve function may return after several weeks or months. In case of a completely severed nerve, there is very little hope for recovery and amputation of the leg may be the solution. Amputation could be very distressing, but a three-legged cat will be able to enjoy a normal life as a four-legged one, if properly cared for.
(Sudhersena is a volunteer at the Blue Cross since 1998, an avid animal lover she has 9 cats and 3 dogs.)