My cat’s back legs went limp and he died suddenly. What happened?

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

Two years ago, we had a group of feral cats that camped out under our house. One of them, a small black cat, adopted us. We took him to my vet and had him treated him for a respiratory infection. We nursed him back to health and he began growing. We fell in love with him and gave him the name Lil Bit.

One night about a year later, we found him laying on the floor, and when we tried to play with him, he looked up at us and meowed but would not stand up like he usually did. When my husband picked him up, he was limp. Since it was late at night and we do not have any 24-hour vets, we decided to put his bed in our room and take him to the vet in the morning. The next morning, we woke up to him meowing, running, and jumping like nothing had happened. We assumed he may have been bitten by something and gave it no more thought since he was clearly back to his old self.

Four or five months after that, my husband came in and told me that something was wrong with Lil Bit. I followed him into the living room where Lil Bit lay still like he had the first time — only this time he was opening and closing his mouth gasping for breath. We scooped him and put him in the car to take him to the vet. I noticed during this time that his front legs were functional but his hind legs were dead. The nearest decent vet that we have is about 25 miles away, and our Lil Bit died before we made it there. Now I am haunted wondering what happened and if there was anything we could have done to prevent it.


Siouxsie: Donna, we’re so sorry for your loss. It’s terrible to lose a beloved cat, especially one so young. We don’t think there’s anything you could have done to prevent Lil Bit’s death, though.

Thomas: We’re not vets, and even if we were, there’s no way we could determine your cat’s cause of death simply from an e-mail. However, we did some research on conditions that cause similar symptoms, and it sounds like your little guy may have died from a condition called arterial thromboembolism — a blood clot getting stuck in one of his arteries.

Dahlia: His earlier spell and subsequent recovery might have been the result of a smaller clot that eventually broke up.

blood flow through the heart

This image shows how blood flows into and out of the heart. The left atrium (the red part on the top right of the picture) is where blood clots form. From there, they get pushed out through the aorta (the big red blood vessel at the top of the heart) and become lodged in places where the blood vessel gets smaller than the clot.

Siouxsie: Although vets don’t know why blood clots form, they are much more common in cats that have a heart disease called cardiomyopathy. There are three types of cardiomyopathy: dilated cardiomyopathy, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and restrictive cardiomyopathy.

Thomas: Dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition where the heart muscle gets weak and swells (dilates), isn’t seen much these days because it’s typically caused by a lack of taurine in the diet.

Dahlia: In hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the muscles of the left side of the heart (that’s the side that pumps blood out of the heart to the rest of the body) thicken so much that abnormalities can occur inside the heart.

Siouxsie: Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is generally a hereditary condition and is found more often in Maine Coons and Persians than in other purebreds or mixed-breed cats.

Thomas: Restrictive cardiomyopathy occurs when the inner lining of the heart becomes stiff and has to work harder to pump blood. This also sets the stage for blood clots. Vets don’t know what causes restrictive cardiomyopathy.

Dahlia: All three of these conditions cause turbulence, or swirling of the blood inside the heart rather than the normal flow of blood out of the aorta (the artery that brings blood out of the heart).

Siouxsie: When blood clots do form, they tend to get pushed out of the heart and go down the aorta toward the legs. The blood clots can also go to the front legs or to the brain, where the clot causes a stroke.

Thomas: When blood clots get stuck, they cause a blockage in the flow of blood, which means the cells in the blocked part of the body aren’t getting the oxygen they need to stay alive.

Dahlia: You might think that if your cat had a heart disease like cardiomyopathy, you would have noticed. But cats are notorious for hiding symptoms of illness: it’s in our instinctive nature not to show we’re sick until we’re just so badly off that we can’t hide it anymore.

Siouxsie: Your vet might have picked up subtle symptoms of heart issues, such as a heart murmur or an arrythmia (when the heart beats irregularly), during a checkup. But sometimes even that doesn’t show until the disease is pretty advanced.

Thomas: When a cat gets a blood clot stuck in an artery, it’s extremely painful, and you can clearly tell that the cat is suffering. He might be rolling around on the floor and meowing desperately, or, as Lil Bit was, opening and closing his mouth and gasping for breath.

Dahlia: Heartworms can also block blood vessels. Although heartworm disease is not as common in cats as it is in dogs, cats can and do get heartworms. Sudden death is one possible result of heartworm disease.

Siouxsie: Cats get heartworms from being bitten by an infected mosquito, so outdoor cats are more likely to have the disease than indoor-only cats.

Thomas: So, Donna, neither of these conditions would have been predictable.

Dahlia: If you had taken Lil Bit to the vet after his first episode, it’s possible that he or she might have been able to make a diagnosis and undertake some form of treatment.

Siouxsie: But that’s really neither here nor there. The fact is, Lil Bit died a totally unexpected, and far too early, death, and most likely from a condition that even if it had been diagnosed, might not have had any effective treatment.

Thomas: He was blessed to have a warm, safe home with a loving family, and that’s an amazing and beautiful thing for a cat that was born feral.

Dahlia: You did the best you could, so please don’t beat yourself up over Lil Bit’s death. Even Mama has had situations where animals got extremely sick and she did the best she could but she didn’t know how to take care of them — and she’s had to live with the burden of that, too.

Siouxsie: Mama’s learned from her painful experiences that you can’t go back and make suffering and death un-happen, but you can learn from your mistakes and lack of wisdom and, by knowing better the next time, prevent other animals from suffering a similar fate.

Thomas: That’s part of the reason she wanted to help us start writing this column — to share what she’s learned, from us and from her other cat teachers, with other cat caretakers.

Dahlia: You saved Lil Bit’s life by bringing him inside when he was a kitten. Many feral kittens die from respiratory infections and other contagious diseases. I’m sure he knew it and he loves you for it still, even from the other side of the Bridge. Purrs and many blessings to you and your husband.

  • Candace Elmore

    I came home from work last December to find my 13 year old fur baby in much the same condition – she was completely paralyzed in her back legs, and meowing painfully. I rushed her to the vet, but he was unable to help her stay with me. I’m so glad you explained what might have happened, since I haven’t been able to find any other information. Thank you!

    • kristin

      My 1 year old kitten died from the blood clot last week. Was happy running around seconds before he suffered a seizure, as I rushed him to emergency vet. It was blood clot. His heart hours later stopped. Very heart breaking. I wish I could know what would increase chances of the blood clot. Getting neutered to early?

      • Maxine Yancy

        So many thanks to all of the wonderful people who love cats and lost one suddenly, or after an illness. I also have been devastated by the loss of my Timmy Tuxedo. I will make this brief. Reading so many posts from numerous websites has been therapeutic, helpful, a God-send. So many of the posts confirm whan I have learned and believed. My Timmy was 13 years old and was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma in the intestine in March 2014. He had surgery to remove tumor; six chemo treatments, the recommended doses by the specialty hospital, and while on chemo his weight held at 10 lbs…down from his 11, but higher than the 5 pounds he was when diagnosed with cancer.

        Since Jan. 2015 I had given Tim natural supplements…Lactoferrin and Life Gold. He was eating like a little piggy and for the last few weeks drinking water on his ownand had gained two pounds..up to 5 pounds. Recently, for a few days he appeared to have trouble walking and his back legs appeared weak. On one occasion, he jumped off sofa and landed on his feet, but collapsed on his stomach. Also, I watched him walk to the litter pan and his right, hind leg appeared crippled.

        My sadness of all sadnesses was last Saturday morning at around 8 am when I found Tim on the floor, stretched out with his eyes fixed and dilated. I placed him in my room on my nightshirt and tried to make him comfortable. He had several seizures and never recovered. After reading much research online regarding the weakness in the legs and the blood clot that often goes to the hind legs due to arterial thromboembolism or what is also called saddle thrombus because of the location, I am still sad…but believe that there was nothing I could have done to save his life. After what appeared to be major seizures, I continued to check Tim and his heart was beating, and he was breathing. Back legs were straight and never moved. At one point, his right foreleg was thrown up in the air (probably in a seizure) and claw stuck on some clothing.

        I miss my Timmy so much and have cried lakes and rivers. All of this happened when I also became ill and had to have emergency surgery the day before Timmy’s awful illness. Finally, I read that not all cats have heart problems who die from arterial thromboembolism. You can search for the article that states that 6% of the cats have cancer. So, it would seem that cancer can predispose a cat or any animal for a cardiac problem…blood clots leading to death. I did not have a necropsy done, but believe that Tim died from this condition.

        May all of our wonderful pets meet in the Rainbow Forest and who knows who else may be there.

  • Teri and the cats of Furrydance

    You two cats put your heads together and really have a good way of explaining what might have happened, and you are caring and compassionate. I have had 5 cats with HCM, and even with close monitoring, yearly ultrasounds of the heart and medications, when a thrombotic episode occurs, even then the outcome is not often favorable. As you said, now this person knows a little more about cat health and it will be knowledge that can help her take the best care of her pets in the future…

  • Angie Bailey

    Wow — I’ve never heard of HCM. Thank you for the detailed, yet understandable explanation! The more we know, the better we can take care of our kitties, right? Another great post :)

  • Morgan the cat lover

    i have a wonderful cat named Max. He is eight years old in human years and I love him to death. Since he is getting older now, I am going to look to see if he is in pain from this kind of horrible thing. Thank you so much for the post. I appreiciate it.

  • Belinda

    OMG my cat died in February the same exact way. A few hours earlier he was fine than suddenly the legs went limo & he started crying loudly and panting & drooling. The cat was diagnosed with anemia a few months earlier. Than yesterday my other cat died the same exact way. He was fine earlier than suddenly the same exact thing happened. This cat was diagnosed with a heart murmur when he was younger. The cat in february was 9 years and the other was 12 years. Needless to say I miss them both and I feel like now I have some sort of answer.

  • Sandy

    WOW, ten years ago I had a VERY VERY much loved kitten named Sparky who died at only 1 year old and I’ve always wondered what happened and felt horrible wondering if I could have saved him. He had a severe infection at about 6mo old, sudden very high fever and very dicoordinated and we took him to the vet who ran numerous tests with no answer and gave him a 50-50 chance of making it through the night. My late husband (he has him now:O) and I took turns getting up every 2 hrs and giving him antibiotics/pedialite and he recovered, but at around a year old he seemed to be getting much less energetic than he was before, and one night I woke up to him screaming, trying to walk with his back legs not working, breathing hard, no vet to take him to until 6am. I layed on the kitchen floor with him (the spot he seemed to feel comfy) petting his head and we fell asleep together, when the alarm rang to get up and take him to the vet only I woke up
    :O( This was in a house with many other kitties, including his Momma who’s here with me now at 14years old. Nobody else got sick.

    THANK YOU so much for this, it’s been a sinking spot in my heart for a decade.


  • Jen

    3 days ago, I left my beautiful 16 1/2 year old petite torti Kitti for a few hours, and when I returned, she was lying by her water bowl unable to move with her tail wagging. Her eyes looked odd and she was quiet. We took her to the vet who suspected she had a vascular event. She died a couple hours later. 3 weeks earlier she had gone missing one evening, right after being fed some roast pork, and was found the next morning 10 blocks away near the vet hospital! She recently started drinking from and urinating in the bath tub, urinating in her water bowl at night, and yowling, but otherwise was eating well. She had just finished antibiotics for blood in her urine and was scheduled to be examined again… I am sad that she was alone when she collapsed and feel remorse for leaving her at the vet while I tended to my children. When I returned to the vet an hour later, they brought her to me, and she passed within a couple minutes. I miss her so much.

  • Trish

    Thank you for posting this blog it is helpful and helps bring some peace to my heart. Yesterday afternoon our beloved 11 year old kitty seemed fine and well and in an instant one of his back hind legs gave out and he started panting, drooling and looked as though he was in shock and pain. We rushed him to a vet where they were able to perform an xray (no ultrasound :( ) and told me that he had a slightly enlarged heart and his road to recovery were scarce. They believed it was a case of Arterial Thromboembolism. By this time it was 8pm I called many animal hospitals and most did not have cardiologists or ultrasound machines available until the next morning. I gave him some baby aspirin took him home. Hand fed him water in a bowl and pet him, talked to him. By this time he was quiet, panting on and off. He had absolutely no control of one of his right hind leg and as the vet had discovered earlier it was cold to the touch and non responsive to pinching or any sort of reflex. I made him as comfy as I could at home and started researching online and only yesterday learned about this disease and the quick onset. I was really hoping somehow he would get better with the aspirin and thought I will keep him at home, safe and peaceful. He was always really afraid of other handlers. I left him near a box in a bathroom placed sideways for easy access in case he needed water, food or litter box nearby (as well as a well lit nightlight). Around 3am I went in to check on him and he had crawled out of the blanketed box and was panting, but quiet and looked in distress. I felt as though he was suffering and possibly dying a slow painful death. I rushed him to emergency where after reading online about Arterial Thromboembolism I knew there was a good chance the inevitable could be ahead. Sure enough the vet suggested that he be put to sleep. Because chances of recovery if treated were slim and these blot clots most always come back. My heart broke and I agonized for an hour about what to do. I finally agreed with the vet. I didn’t want him to suffer anymore but was devastated. I thought what if there was a 5% chance he could recover and be well as he was hours before. Afterall he had a check up a few months ago and we never noticed anything abnormal. I find peace in knowing that not much else could have been done in these cases because I would prefer for him to go peacefully then have to prolong the inevitable and make him suffer along the way. But the loss is so painful right now. I know he had a good life for many years and I hope I made the right decision. Hopefully he is running freely utilizing both legs in kitty heaven RIP KEESHEK:)

  • bonni

    Please, never, ever give a cat aspirin, not even 1/4 of a baby aspirin. Ask any vet. Check this out:

    • Sarah

      My cat Severus was diagnosed with a grade 2 heart murmur and the vet insisted he take 81 mg 1/4 pill of aspirin every 3 days. At first I was so afraid to because I’d lost a cat in 2011 my Petunia to metacam poisoning. However the vet insisted if I didn’t my cats back legs could go. The aspirin was to prevent blood clots.
      Looking back everything started to go downhill for him after I started aspirin in 2013. He ended up getting very thin going from originally an 18 pound boulder of a black cat to only 9 or 10 pounds. At the end of 2014 he had suffered severe muscle waisting and was occasionally vomiting up his food. I thought my new vet had tested his kidneys but in December 2014 they were found to be poor. He was discovered February 6 2015 open mouth breathing and found to have bloody fluid in his lungs. The vet drained it once but Severus still had breathing problems. Through this he continued to eat and drink. He was placed on Lasix which isn’t so great for cats with poor kidneys but it was more important at the time to attempt to remove the water from his lungs. He ended up passing away February 17 as his lungs were being drained again. I wasn’t told till the 17 that my cat had dropped to only 6 pounds.
      Every vet I talk to tells me 81 mg 1/4 pill every 3 days is a safe dose for cats. I just can’t help thinking that even that small amount was to much for my poor old man.
      I stupidly kept giving it to him up till he died thinking I was helping his heart. Now I wish I had taken him off it and found something safer back in 2013.

  • Beth

    My 12yr old cat Teddy is a cat that goes outside, she got skinny a year ago and the vet determined she had a hyperactive thyroid. I’ve given here methimozole which has worked. The vet also said her heart wasn’t beating right. The vet I take her to doesn’t have expensive machines to diagnose which makes her a cheap place to take Teddy but also meant that I can’t get the most accurate diagnosis. So now she started drooling, panting, and yowling and ten minutes later she was ok. That was a week ago. She just did it again last night and she #2 on her self and then a few hours later the episode happened again. I thought it was related to bowel pain at first. But a little research makes me think it’s heart related or cancer. I can’t afford to find out what’s wrong for sure but I will put her down if it last two more days. I love my girl and hate to watch her suffer. I’ll repost what happens:-(

    • marmar

      My catis not dead yet and hopefully wont be in the morning. But he’s hine legs arnt working any thing i can do?please help im worried.

  • Beth

    Oh also she it weak but her legs are strong not like the other cases.

  • Beth

    An update from above Teddy passed away Thursday the 21st at the vet before we could put her down. I hadn’t flipped her over to examine her all week because it hurt her. But the vet did and her tummy was all purple and she had gained a pound it seems she was bleeding internally. RIP teds love you.

  • Eileen

    Last night I came home from work and my Nicky came to me dragging his hind legs. I first thought he may have gotten hurt but upon examining him there was nothing showing. He seemed fine otherwise and I held and rocked him last night as he purred to me. There was no change overnight and I brought him to the vet today. The vet was not optimistic and said it was not reversible and that it was due to a clot. She also said that it most likely would follow with more which could end up in the lungs or heart. Nicky was 13 years old and I never heard of this. It broke my heart but I had to let him go. I live alone and could only think of what he would go through if he could not breath and was in alot of pain when I was gone. I gave him a good 13 years I would hate to have him have to suffer his last. Thanks for all the information people have giving here, I feel better on my decision.

  • carol davies

    my 7yr old ragdoll Creamy was found this morning with all above symtoms in a terrible state, he has stayed in vets all day were they confirmed clot in his leg, we have been lucky enough to bring him home has he his using his legs 70% better, but im worried it may come back and next time were not here for him, has the pain was unbearable for him , we have 24hrs to see if he pulls though the worst part , but am i best to let him go now or let nature take its course and pray we are here for him, seems such a common thing yet never heard of it before.

  • http://pawsandeffects robert agress

    in mid-january, i suddenly noticed my 13-year old non neutered male cat “fuzz” as he rose to get off the bed. his back legs seemed to liquidly fold under him. he did not seem to exhibit any pain. he regained “balance” and jumped off the bed. it scared the fool out of me, and i took him to my local vet. he dismissed it as possible arthritis. i started him on glucosamine for cats, and this did not help at all. i called my vet back, and he got me cosamine, which i started at once. his condition did not improve.

    on may 6, i took him to a vet in augusta that my daughter and son-in-law uses. after examination and bloodwork, he put him on metacam. two weeks after no improvement, he put him on 5mg prednisone twice a day. still no improvement.

    on friday, june 3, i took him back for xrays of his spine. the vet told me that fuzz would not lay on his back for the second xray, and he wanted to use anesthesia. i told him that he’d never had anesthesia, but that i’d hold him. the vet would not permit that, so i consented to the anesthesia. the xrays turned out negative and he recommended a mylogram for soft tissue study. when he showed the xrays to me, he showed that his spine was normal in every respect. he pointed out that the large organ on the side of the xray was his bladder, which was full of urine. . fuzz acted just fine on the hour-and-a-half drive home.

    he did not urinate, and i called this vet and told him that fuzz had not urinated since 10AM. he told me that fuzz needed attention if he did not urinate in the next 2 hours. in 2 hours, which was friday afternoon at about 5, the witching hour for anyone who desperately needs help, i called my local vet. he was not on call, and gone. i contacted 5-6 other vets, and they were either not available or would not treat a “non-patient”. i finally found an emergency clinic in statesboro a little less than am hour away.

    because fuzz is “high strung” – scared of strangers but totally loving with us and the “ones he knows”, the emergency clinic vet suggested leaving him. i had brought his litter box house and convinced her to let him stay in the exam room instead of putting him in a cage, in which he’d never been. MAYBE he’d pee overnight. she agreed to allow this with the stipulation that i’d be back right when they opened saturday morning.

    i returned early saturday morning learning that fuzz did not urinate overnight. he was given anesthesia to express his bladder, because he was very aggressive with everyone who approached him, his usual nature with strangers invading his “personal space”. the vet expressed his bladder and put a catheter in. she explained that it was a bit difficult to express and then suddenly easily emptied concluding that a mucous plug had blocked his uretha. fuzz was given an antibiotic, and she wanted to keep him overnight and observe him.

    sunday morning found us in the same condition – fuzz had not urinated. the vet wanted to continue observation and would release him late sunday afternoon. he had still not unrinated sunday afternoon when we picked him up, and the vet felt that the familiar surroundings at home would resolve the problem.

    it didn’t. fuzz’s behavior was so very normal, other than seeming a bit tired, except that he still didn’t pee. i took fuzz to our local vet very early monday afternoon. the vet gave him fluids and an antibiotic and did some blood tests – he tested positive on protein and positive on white blood count. my vet told me that he had a bladder infection and that he didn’t urinate because his uretha was swollen and painful, and that i should spread newspaper all over the floor of the room in which we put him so that we could detect urine if he were to “dribble”. of course, because we use clumping litter, we could tell if he urinated in his litter box.

    fuzz came home and appeared very tired. he laid on his side under the kitchen counter and had very quick shallow breathing. he moved to our bedroom and went under the bed and then began shallow breathing with his mouth open with his tongue slightly hanging out. then, he moved back to the kitchen and laid down and gave a cry. that’s when we knew that he was in distress. i had already been in contact with a good emergency clinic in savannah, so we immediately decided to take him there. fuzz died on the way.

    friday morning, fuzz was totally normal. from friday on, it seemed that everything that could go wrong went wrong. no one ever seemed to have ANY answers along the way. he was our “pampered kitten” who had a wonderful life, and we are heartbroken that he was away from us much of the few days before he died.

    we are grasping at some understanding of what happened.

  • Linda

    I’m very sorry about your loss of LilBit. It sounds exactly like my experience with my kitten named Cookie. It happened about 9 yrs. ago. Seemed fine one night, then Same thing with the gasping for breath the next morning. I tried to rush her to the emergency vet less than a mile away & she died on the way there. I was employed at a vets office at the time so I had them perform an autopsy ( I had to why she died) They discovered that she in fact had died from heartworm infection ! Even though I had never let her outside, she must have been infected at a very early age. I would think this may be more common in ferrel cats but you’d only know if you did an autopsy. Hope this may help.

  • Alex

    My kitty Jinx a black cat, who isn’t even 1 yet, is at the vet as I type this. My husband brought him in since I was out of town and didn’t get back until that evening. He said that Jinx came in from being outside (he only went outside for a couple hours each day and in every night), he seemed ok at first but was quiet and just laying around, in the middle of the night he noticed that Jinx was just laying at the botton mf the stairs by his litter box and his back left leg wasn’t working well and he was dragging it.
    He stayed up with him all night and comforted him. He said he was just quiet not panting or gasping. He tried to get him in to emergency vet but they were already on call so he had to wait for the morning. At first he thought he got hit, or pulled a muscle or fell out of a tree. There was no blood or puncture wounds, but his leg was very tender and wouldn’t let my husband touch his leg.
    I just got home after seeing the vet and he was there all day yesterday and all day today and will still be there tomorrow and counting. They did Xrays and see no fractures and even his heart is a normal size….his leg is showing a pulse but he still wouldn’t let me touch it too much, he would growl at me. At one point he sat up and seemed ok, the vets are doing an ultrasound tomorrow to see if they can find a issue with the heart for sure. At this point he is on IV fluid, a time released pain reliever, and blood thinners in case it is a clot as to which they are treating it like it might be but are not sure. I am hoping to god that its a muscle issue or pulled something in his thigh. Unfortunatley the vet that is treating him was away today so I spoke to another who basically informed me on the Thromboembolism procedures and what could happen.
    I am going to visit him again in a bit because the house is just not the same, I wish i could at least bring him home to comfort him because its so stressful with all the other animals around. I want him to heal his leg because the vet said if the nerves don’t repair then it will be worst case scenario. i just never realized that this could happen to cats…the clotting and all and that its so familiar. Its really sad.
    I will keep you all posted as to what happens after the ultasound. I am so sad and am sorry to everyone else who has gone through this or similar scenarios.

  • Steve

    I think my cats has the same thing right now, again. About 4 months ago I woke up one morning and he had very swollen back part of his back leg. I also thought that he hurt himself or something. In our current situation, we cannot take him to the vets. He would not let me touch his leg for 3 days. He was having a hard time breathing and did not want to walk anywhere. I noticed that he kept licking it so much that all the hair was gone and there was a round sore left. It didn’t smell right either. I just made him comfy and watched him.
    About 3 days later he was walking around and seemed just fine. The sore healed and hair grew back. I never knew what happend.
    Now I think it is coming back. He seems to be fine but I found him licking that leg again and the sore is coming back and becoming slightly swollen. He is still running and playing and showing no signs hurt.
    Can this be this problem? The only thing that is strange is the sore he created and the smell. seems to be different than most peoples stories here.

  • http://yahoo Nezzie

    My cat Mocho wasn’t himself yesterday, I saw him running from across the street, which was a bit unusual for him to do.(he never runs from anyone or anything), i just shrugged it off, and we went shopping, it being christmas eve and all. When we came home i was cooking dinner, and Mocho rubbed against my leg, i fed him, and he stayed with me in my kitchen, which is totally abnormal, since he always goes outside to go to the bathroom,(he was raised with my two dogs), so i picked him up and he meowed. I told my husband that something was wrong, but then Mocho jumped on the couch for the rest of the night. In the morning, on Christmas day, we woke up to Mocho meowing loudly, my husband got up and he found Mocho on the floor behind the couch, his back legs were completely limp, he rushed him to a nearby vet, Alemada East,(they are a wonderful animal hospital). The vet came out and said that there was no hope for Macho, and that it would be expensive if we continued treatment on him, and if we did there would be a great chance of it coming back, so my husband called me and said he wasn’t going to bring him home for christmas, he bid him farewell and came home. My husband came home (deeply saddened), and he told me “I wonder what Macho died from, the dr. told me the name of the desease, but I forgot it”. I looked online and saw The Paws and Effect gang, I read it and I asked my husband if the vet called it arterial thromboembolism, and he said yes. I’am writing this as my husband sleeps. I want to thank you very much for sharing your knowledge with us so (the public). It has helped us to better understand what our Macho had, and that we are not alone.Our house is not the same without our Machito, especially on Christmas Day, but we are forever grateful that there is a blog that loves animals, and we can turn to when we don’t understand why our animals perish. God Bless You, and please continue to share your knowledge with us. R.I.P. Macho.

  • James

    My cat is 17 years old.One evening he started coughing…i thought it was hair ball timebut it sounded starnge…i took him to the emergency vet because he was panting with toungue out…they they took xrays and told me his heart was enlarged and was in congestive heart failure…they gave him diuretics to remove fluids from his lungs ,put himin an ooxygen chamber to help his heart work easier..
    He saw a cardio vet who diagnosed heart diseae and now he has on various meds…het takes plavix to preven a blood clot in his legs…and nattokinase (available from health food stores) to also prevent blood clot….
    So far he is doing well but he is weak in the hind legs but this is not due to a blood the cardio vet checked his arterial blood flow pressure and its fine…but he still weak in his hind legs and they have not been able to determine the cause…I am giving him B12 supplements as old cats are sometimes weak in the hind legs when they are deficient
    My advice is if your cat shows strange behavior don’t wait…I thought my cat had hair balls..but it was heart disease
    Whenever a vet dismisses a symptom easily without xrays or blood tests and sends you merrily on your way home… i would find another vet…you r their owner…you know your pet best…you know when something is wrong…you get that sixth sense that tells you…its the cats behavior that tells you…

  • terry

    Had a 13 year old male who had a heart murmur.”Meep” was strong and healthy very active.He starting vomiting one day bits of grass and some bile, laid around most of the day. Next day he was very quiet and when getting down his back legs slipped out from under him. Picked him up and he let out this horrible meow, he couldn’t walk more then a couple steps. Took him to the vet who said he had a irregular heart beat and was in bad shape.. Ended up putting in down… our hearts are broken. Was it his heart or poison ?

  • Cynthia

    I recognized what this was from just the title of the letter blurb in my e-mail. For most of the years I was growing up, my parents bred and showed Maine Coons. When I was a teenager, our very first Maine Coon ever, who was then about 7 years old, IIRC, went through this. It happened pretty much the exact same way–with his hind end becoming paralyzed, and the drooling and panting. My parents took him to the emergency vet, but wouldn’t let me go with them (he had been retired from showing by that point, neutered, and was an indoor-outdoor cat who slept with me every night). When they got back without him, they informed me that he had cardiomyopathy, and they had had to put him to sleep, because (at least at that time) there really wasn’t a way to prevent it from happening again. They didn’t specify which type he had or anything, but did explain about him having thrown a clot, etc. A relatively short time (maybe a year or so?), one of his offspring had an episode. At least that time we knew right away.

  • Jen Berry

    My best cat in the world, Boogie (only 5yrs), was recently diagnosed with HCM after I noticed him having difficulty breathing several times over a week. At first I thought it was hairballs, but since nothing ever came up I decided to bring him in. The X-ray clearly showed the enlarged heart and the doctor told me that it was causing a fluid buildup that was making his breathing difficult (it often sounded gurgly). He is taking 2 different medications, twice a day. At first I thought it was helping, but he is again wheezing several times again. I don’t know if he is in pain during this time or not but it’s breaking my heart. The vet did warn me about the blood clots that can cause paralysis–I just pray that doesn’t happen because I think I will totally fall apart. My DH has said “Boogie’s heart grew so big because he had so much love to give you.” So true.

  • http://Pawsandeffect Renee

    Thank you for all of your info. Our 12 year old tuxedo, Runtie, displayed the same symptoms mentioned above while our daughter was cat sitting for her when we were out of town. She called us in distress to tell us what was happening and then took Runtie to an emergency vet clinic who told us her prognosis was very poor. We made the decision to euthanize her and even though we know it was the right decision, there is such an empty place in our hearts. I am so sad that I didn’t get to say goodbye. My daughter and I have both found consolation at your website knowing there was nothing we could have done to prevent what happened. Thank you.

  • Gary

    Just woke up to my Maine coon cat screeming in the hallway. I went to see what was going on
    and he was panting terribly. He was dragging his hind legs. I picked him up and he was completely limp in his hjnd legs. I rushed him to the vet traveling 90 to 100 miles an hour on the interstate. All
    I could hear was the screaming pain sounds coming from him and hoped that I would arrive before his death. I arrived and there was nothing they could do. Apparently a blood clot formed preventing him from walking and he couldnt breath.
    Zeus was a companion for 10 years and I miss him terribly. He followed me everywhere I went and always walked in front of me assuming where I was going in the house. Just last night he was begging for attention as he always did and rubbed him as he ate (always wanted to be rubbed while he ate). I had to sleep on the edge of the bed last night because he was against me kinda
    in my space. Never would have guessed that that would be the last time he would ever be in my space again.
    I am pacing the house now feeling empty and sad. Wish I could make the pain go away and wishing Zeuss was still by my side.

  • colleen

    I heard my cat sobbing horribly and same thing; couldn’t stand up, immobile hind legs. ran him to the emergency vet, he’d thrown a clot. it was a sketchy 24 hours but he made it and came back to life in every way within 6 months.
    that was about 3 years ago and now his hind legs are faulty again and he’s had a horrible cough for months. vet put him on prednasone which got rid of the cough but I don’t think is good for his muscles and I cannot bear the thought of losing him..
    so sorry for the losses here. so so sorry xoxoxo.

  • Simon

    The same happened to my cat today. He’d been fine all day, no signs of anything untoward until early evening when he came rushing in with limp hind legs, and gasping for breath with a thick saliva coming from his mouth. He looked dazed too. It happened all so fast but when he rushed in he jumped up on the bed to be with me, I was working on my laptop at the time. I called my vet, they suggested I called the emergency vet as it was just after hours and they told me to bring him in. While I was getting my stuff together I checked up on him and I could tell it was too late. He was still barely alive but I thought he’d be more comforted by me being with him, stroking him, and talking to him, than rushing around to get him to the emergency vet which is a half hour drive from my home. Within 5 minutes of me just sitting with him he died.

    Izzy is his name, he’s a nine year old smokey Egyptian Mai. He was loved and is going to be missed. He was such a character. RIP little man….

  • Gary


    Sorry you are going thru the same problems again. I am so glad he has been with you all these
    years since the first problem. I could not bear the thought of Zeuss ever being in pain like he was
    that morning. (or myself) If I would have known I might have extended his life I might not have ended his life but the Vet encouraged me to do so. It is good to know there is hope. Keep us
    posted on his recovery.


    • http://microsoft Ms Davis

      There is a danger with antifreeze that is put in motor v ehicles . The added substance is attractive to cats and causes vomiting , diarrhoea and is fatal to as more recently cats have been murdered. The glycerol in the antifreeze was not toxic but the added substance put it within it is so they shoudl ban its use adn just use glycerol as it does the same job.. Also amyloidosis is a condition found a condition in certain breeds as a result from secondary infections. Heartworms a cause of well as hypothermia.Cats can catch virues parasite and die suddenly as humans. Ammonia and other clearning sprays are best avoided .as slug pellets are poison to cats as well . Cats can also be affected by toxic flea powders and dewormers but talk to the vet about a safe brand as parasites are dangerous.

  • gary


    Sorry you had to go through exactly what I did. Zeus, Like Izzy, was my buddy and I miss him.
    Time will heal our wounds.

  • nancy

    Why do the posts stop May 31st? Today is Oct 20

    • The Paws and Effect Gang

      May 31 is the date of the most recent comment on this post. To see the latest posts, go to the home page,

  • Kim

    Thank you so much for this article. The same thing appears to have happened to our three year old red tabby, Jeannie. We thought she might have been hit by a car but after reading this I really think she had a blood clot. She was fine minutes before and then some neighbors came in to tell me that our cat was outside unable to move her hind legs. I ran outside as she was gasping her last breaths. She had no injuries that I could see so I really think it was something else. Our poor little baby. She was the sweetest little cat, my little shadow, my sunshine. I will never forget her. Thank you for helping me understand what most likely happened.

  • Lauren

    Hi Guys …My 6 year old cat “Monster” Died 2 days ago . Monster was a healthy cat with the exception of on incident when he was about 2. He was not eating and was lethargic, I noticed Monster wanted to stay close to the heat from the pellet stove. Took him in to the vet the next day after I noticed he urinated on the couch ..I was worried it may be crystals but when we got to the vet she said it was his heart and let me listen through her scope, pressed to his chest. Instead of a beating it sounded more like an exhale of breath. They nursed him over 10 days ..feeding him with a tube and later a syringe and keeping him away from stress or noise, sleeping on a heating pad to keep him warm. He was great after that for years.
    Until now 3 years later …Monster threw-up his dinner and went into my daughters room and jumped up on his chair, threw up again (clear /white foamy). He could not get comfortable and would sit, stand move around and try to sit again. I watched him jump to the floor and his back legs went out from under him . All within a few minutes he just kept panting, crying and rolling around it was clear to me that he was in extreme pain & he kept trying to move from spot to spot even though now his legs were dragging behind him. It was around 8 pm and the vets were closed, we knew if we called emergency we would have to drive over one hour and we were not sure if he would make it that long and we were trying not to stress him out anymore than he was. I wish they made epee pens for these situations to take animals out of misery when you cannot reach help. It was very traumatic to watch and hear. It lasted close to an hour. I laid on the floor with him until he gave his last cry and finally it was over …he lied there taking a few last breaths and he was gone.
    I researched to see what this could have been and I know now it was not likely poison. Possibly a clot or heart disease causing everything to shut down. At least he had a good 6 years and his pain is gone. If anyone experiences this I cannot say you could have done anything to change the out come it was extremely fast with no signs that anything is even wrong. L

  • j

    My guess is these cats had a stroke…

  • g

    My cat had a seizure or something like that and then ran outside and i couldnt find her for over a day. I finally found her under a car with a limp back right leg in pain. She is in pain but seems to be recovering. The vet said it was a clot and i should put her down but having broken both my legs before and going through other health complications I am very glad that the doctors didnt mercy kill me so im letting my cat fight through this and just comforting her and giving her light narcotic pain meds not harmful to cats (buprenorphine) 0.1mg per dose and she seems to be doing better.

  • Kate

    This morning my cat, Pat was her usual loving self. She ate breakfast and went outside as per her routine. Three hours later she was at the back door crying and unable to use her hind legs. I brought her inside and she started panting, gagging, and lost control of her bowels. She died 5 minutes later. Thank you for this information. I had no idea what happened to her or why. I thought maybe heatstroke or a spider bite. The previous posts sound like what she went through. I’m sorry for all those who lost their kitties. Thank you for sharing.

  • Mandy

    My 11 year old kitty Leo died this past Tuesday from a saddle thrombus. We found him crying in the morning from our basement. He clearly couldn’t walk up the stairs. When I brought him up and set him down in the living room he was dragging both legs behind him. It was the most awful thing to witness. I took him immediately to the vet where I was told he’d thrown a clot. His legs were already cold and his pads were turning blue. The vet told us his chances of a meaningful recovery were slim, so with a heavy heart we decided to put him to sleep. It all happened within 2 hours of finding him that way. There were no previous signs…he was perfectly fine asleep on our bed the night before. I regret that I didn’t have more time to hold him and that I wasn’t there to comfort him when the clot happened. He must have been so afraid. I’m in complete shock, and miss him so much. Wish there was something I could have done to save him.

  • Ashley

    Same happened to me and my partner yesterday everything was fine did the same thing as we usually do tidy up before we go out. Everything was the same nothing different 3 year old Kizzy was the same as she always was so off we went and then we returned an hour later to find her screaming in pain no been able to move her back legs she was dragging them across the floor I said to my partner what has happened have we done any thing different but no all the same so we immediately got on the phone to the vet I explained what had gone on and they told us to go straight there as soon as we got there the vet seen us and said its a blood clot and it would be better if you put her to sleep. We both burst in to tears and eventually made the decision to put Kizzy to sleep to relieve her from the tremendous pain and fright she must have been in we nursed her all the way to the end . We then brought her home and buried her in our back garden and we gonna get a nice plaque for her in remembrance for Kizzy my little Kizzy pops love you forever my little baby

  • Pinky’s Mom

    You have to just take comfort from the fact that this cat was loved and had everything you could give. You gave this feral cat a treasure—being wanted. Sometimes, that’s everything.