My cat was missing for 60 hours and returned wobbly

By Barbara

My cat Millie is 13 years old. We hadn’t seen her for about 2 1/2 days and assumed she got herself stuck in some neighbor’s garage or something.

This morning we found her laying in our yard under a lilac bush. When she got up she seemed to be staggering and felt really thin when we held her. We immediately gave her some wet cat food and she ate voraciously.

I thought it made sense that she would be very hungry and thirsty if she hadn’t had any food or water for 2 1/2 days.

However, after more watching, we noticed that all of her wobbliness seemed to be on her right side. What the heck could be wrong with her? She also has a little bit of discharge from her right eye.

Please help! Millie is part of our family.

Barbara


Response

Hi Barbara. Thanks for visiting and asking. You made the post about 24 hours ago. Could you please leave a comment to update us? Is Millie feeling better?

Ruth, a valuable, regular visitor who is a retired vet tech. would advise that you take her to a veterinarian for a check up, as soon as possible. That must be the sensible response.

However, as you have taken the time to ask, I’ll respond as best as I can and perhaps Ruth might add a comment too.

I will assume that Millie was in good health before she disappeared for two and half days. If she is wobbly on one side it indicates that she has been injured over those 60 hours.

As the lack of coordination affects one side it indicates nerve damage incurred through injury, perhaps a fall or a car accident or even abuse. Perhaps her spine is hurt or something like that.

Spinal cord injury can cause neck and back pain with weakness (or paralysis) of one or more legs. Millie’s problem appears to be one-sided indicating a spinal injury. Her wobbly gait is consistent with such an injury.

Other possible causes of limb weakness are:

  • arterial thromboembolism (blood clot in artery) – unlikely in this instance.
  • nerve injury.
  • broken bones.

I would take her to the vet asap. Sorry.

I am not a vet. There is no substitute for seeing a good vet. The best of luck to Millie and yourself.

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My cat was missing for 60 hours and returned wobbly — 35 Comments

  1. My guess would be a left CVA because of the eye involvement. I worked with a human patient in physical therapy who had had a stroke and among his other deficits on the affected side were problems with his eye. The affected eye looked different, I seem to remember, but it was years ago. Damage to the spine is going to affect everything below that point, but a stroke (sometimes called a CVA, cerebrospinal vascular accident or “brain attack”) can affect the entire opposite side, including facial muscles. She may also have difficulty swallowing, placing her at risk for aspiration pneumonia or choking on her food. Don’t assume this won’t happen just because she seemed to eat fine– a vet should make that assessment.

    To me, not knowing without seeing the cat, absent any scars, bruises, localized swelling or tender spots– I’d say it sounds like a neurological problem, possibly of natural causes, but only your vet can rule out poisoning. The animal should be seen by a vet ASAP, because with humans they can give drugs to break up blood clots. Maybe your cat requires this treatment to regain some function and prevent more damage. If that is the case, the sooner the better. I’m assuming some similarities from cats to humans, which may or may not be true, but it does sound more like a stroke than an injury. Humans make complete or nearly complete recoveries from CVA’s all the time, but they don’t do it without medical intervention, especially in the early stages. If your cat had one stroke she is at risk for another or a heart attack. What blocked the blood flow? Or was it a hemorrhage? I know vet care is expensive, but without it, it’s a crap shoot as to whether she gets better or suddenly gets a lot worse. At least you would know, not just be guessing, what you’re dealing with.

    Absolutely do not try to treat her yourself. Even if I’m right that she had a stroke, without knowing what kind, the wrong action could kill her. So DON’T try to give her some aspirin or anything like that. Human meds often can’t be tolerated by cats and even a human wouldn’t be given anything post CVA until they know if there is a bleed in the brain or a blockage. Also, if she was poisoned her liver and kidneys could have suffered damage as well as her nervous system.

    Ruth from England will know more because she studied actually animal anatomy and physiology, but I can predict right now one thing she will say: Take your cat to the vet as quickly as possible.

  2. It just occurred to me that the discharge from R eye could be coincidence. Maybe she developed a URI from the stress of her situation. Another good reason to go to the vet.

    Notice whether she bumps into objects on the right. Does she seem to have a complete visual field, especially on the right? These are things to share with your vet whether your findings are positive or negative. Is her front leg more or less affected than her back leg? How about her tail? Can she move it normally? You know what she is normally like so your observations are key.

    There might be some good news. If she had a stroke the prognosis might be very good indeed. She may have been initially paralyzed on one side and regained some use already, which allowed her to get back to you. In humans, the quicker the recovery the better the prognosis. If she makes more progress make note of it, and inform your vet.

    Does she have normal bowel and bladder control? Can she evacuate her bladder on her own? If her spine was injured it is very possible she could lose the ability to urinate and will need to be cathed. Even if this happened it might not be a permanent condition, but it is dangerous, so it’s something to watch for. If her bowel and bladder habits are normal, tell the vet that also. It may rule out some things.

    I can only tell you what I would watch for and what I would do. If it was a stroke, it will be really fun to watch her progress and to find ways to help her regain function. New areas of the brain take over for what was damaged. She might get a lot better over time, and you can creatively help her with that. But for now you still have to take her to the vet.

      • Michael hopefully she will let us know either via you or here how Millie is doing. Fingers crossed she’s ok. Why she’d be sitting outside the house hungry without coming to the door is very scary and worrying. That for me is the worst part. I’ll be back to PoC again tomorrow 🙂

          • I hope the lack of an update does not mean the cat expired. This is certainly a serious situation.

            A CVA is a cerebrovascular accident. Don’t know why I put spinal in there. It was early and someone small and furry woke me up.

            Although Ruth and I agree, the problem could be something different and even worse. If it is a stroke, and she avoids another one or a heart attack, the prognosis could be good. But that’s a lot of ifs.

            • As I said Ruth only a vet examining the cat can make the correct diagnosis, a stroke came immediately to my mind because of the weakness in one side and her eye affected too, it’s the first thing a vet would think of.
              But we don’t know, we can’t know just by reading the words posted here. I hope Millie is getting treatment by now as whatever is wrong with her the longer seeing a vet is delayed the less chance she has of recovery.

  3. Sorry I’ve just come in and seen this but Barbara I do hope you have been to the vets by now with Millie, if not please phone and tell them you need a very urgent appointment.
    It’s impossible to be sure without seeing the cat but it sounds like she may have had a stroke, just like happens to humans. It probably happened when she first went missing and she was unable to walk back home until now.
    She can probably still be treated if you see your vet quickly, a friend of mine’s cat had a stroke 2 years ago and recovered well but Millie’s case is very urgent now as it’s days since it happened.
    Please let us know how she is Barbara.

    • Thanks Ruth. I am pleased we are giving some advice to the best of our ability to this lady and her cat. The vet will provide the answers as you say.

  4. This is an emergency! She may have been hit by a car or had some other type of attack. I’m no way an expert on this type of thing so I’ll bow out here. Please let us know how Millie is and what her diagnosis is!
    Thanks Michael.

  5. I hope we get to know how Millie is, it’s very upsetting not to hear any more and wondering if she has seen a vet and what is happening.

    • That’s why I wonder if the cat took a turn for the worse. If she had had a blockage she could just as easily have had another, or it could have broken loose, moved on and traveled to the lungs or to another area of the brain. Sometimes strokes cause these types of symptoms, but sometimes they cause immediate death.

  6. Nice to see another cat “lover” who really loves their cat by letting it roam to get harmed. LOL

    When are you fools going to learn?

    “Never”, would be my winning guess.

    Blatantly obvious hypocrites much? LOL

    • Woody, I don’t mind you making comments because despite being rude all the time you are smart but please keep it polite and don’t insult people. It gets you nowhere.

      • What regular from PoC lets their cats roam? I don’t get this constant carping on that, because quite a large percentage of PoC regulars actually argue that full time indoor is safest, advocate for catios and have one or have a fenced/walled garden that serves as an enclosure. They actively monitor their cats outside and/or use leash and harness when out and limit outside time to daytime hours only when the caretaker is at home. There isn’t a single regular contributor to PoC who would let a cat roam outside overnight.

        We are always advocating safe and responsible cat care taking. My cat does not roam– he’s monitored better outside in his enclosed yard than are my neighbor’s dogs in a yard with no fencing whatsoever. (When someone buys the vacant house between us it’s all going to hit the fan, because his dogs poop all over that yard too.) Any pet “owner” can be good or bad along a scale ranging from completely neglectful to almost overly attentive. We probably have more people at PoC on the overly attentive end of that scale. Many of us are people who love their cats like they love their own children. We aren’t the ones letting cats roam. And even if we were it is not criminal behavior, as Woody likes to claim. A leash law violation is an ordinance violation at about the level of a traffic ticket. It is not a crime.

        Sadly, in my state first time drunk driving is also not a crime. It’s at the same level as any other traffic ticket, apart from the size of the fine. So behavior can be illegal, but not be a crime. Wisconsin’s slap on the wrist to drunk drivers– there’s something to get angry about. A few people who do a crappy job watching their cats (who don’t even contribute to this site on a regular basis) is just not that big of a deal. But if it is a huge problem for Woody, and he wants real change, he needs first to talk to the actual offenders in his area if he can locate them, and then take it up with his city council to make them enforce the leash law and/or make it a more serious offense. He’d probably have some PoC regulars agreeing with those things, because we want cats to be safe. In a perfect world they could roam, but very few of us live in an area where that would be tolerated and we respect that.

        • Woody is obviously in the US where lots of cats are kept prisoners because of dangerous conditions and cat murderers like him exist there but it’s very different in the UK and if he lived here and boasted about shooting cats he would be traced and prosecuted which is what he fully deserves.
          The US badly needs a pet welfare law and urgently at that.

          • Agreed. He claims shooting cats is legal, but it isn’t in my state– even ferals, much less pet cats. Our previous governor vetoed a bill which would have given permission to shoot feral cats. “Over my dead body,” he said, “will anyone be shooting any cats.” I think it is now legal in some counties, our present governor not caring about animals much, but it’s not legal everywhere. My guess is it’s Woody who is the criminal.

    • Yes sure enough Woody plays the same old record, not an original thought in his head, totally predictable and boring and cold hearted enough to even come on a page and lol where a person has asked for help for her suffering cat and decent people are trying to give her that help.
      What a sad sociopath you are Woody, why don’t you DO something useful with your life like the rest of us are doing?
      You never did come back on my article answering my question should our cats not be allowed to sit peacefully in their own garden, no you soon disappear when you are proved wrong.
      sad sad sad bitter person.

    • Fools Woody,you are talking about yourself once again,the only fool around here is you and you are even more of a fool than the foolishest fool because you don’t know you are one.
      Go back and play with your mouse,it’s all you are good at;)

  7. I wish people would just get to their vets when a cat is obviously ill,I hope this lady did get Millie to her vets in time.
    Even if anyone does make the correct diagnosis a cat still has to see a vet for treatment.

    • I think research online is a good adjunct to vet treatment, just as it is a good adjunct to seeing your MD. Maybe people are looking for reassurance that their cat will be ok, or to determine how high the vet bill is going to be… I’ve thought about pet health insurance for Monty. It probably is a good idea. I can cover the usual vet bills and even his care the time he tried to eat a bee was not expensive. But this article shows that things can happen. Any disorder that can afflict man can afflict cats too, poor things. But often people hesitate to go to the doctor even for themselves, even when they have good insurance and can afford it. The more they fear it might be cancer the more likely they are to ignore and deny their pain and wait to get treated, even though early treatment is the only hope if it is something serious.

      • All I’m saying is the last thing I’d do if my cat was very ill is sit at my computer,I’d be on the phone to tell the vet I was coming straight in as an emergency day or night.
        If Millie had a stroke as Ruth possibly thinks then time was of the essence,you can’t get any urgent necessary treatment on-line.
        In a mild illness yes research on-line but not when a cat’s life is in danger.

        • Online research probably saved Monty’s life. After Monty tried to eat a bee the vet said giving Benedryl would be fine. But what I read online said any time the sting is on the mouth, get treatment. So I was extra vigilant, despite the vet’s reassurances. And sure enough, I did have to rush him in. If I had read that before talking to the vet Monty would have been brought in immediately, forget trying to shove a pill down him.

          The writer doesn’t say. This cat could have been taken to the vet and her own research done at the same time. But I can’t imagine going first to the Internet if my cat had neurological symptoms. He’d be at the vet in a hurry. However, weekends can be problematic depending on where you live. If there is no treatment available until Monday, then I would be forced to use the Internet. I have paid to talk to a vet in just that circumstance, although at the time Monty was symptom free, but had ingested things he shouldn’t have. Around here emergency vet care is hundreds of dollars just to have him seen on weekends. Once was when Monty licked out my bowl after we had chili and once when he found a match under the fridge and had had the head of the match in his mouth. In both instances he was fine. Right after I paid the sixty dollars to talk to the vet through the ASPCA (after the chili incident) Monty climbed to the top of the curtains, jumped down and did it again. No, the onions and garlic in the chili had not made him anemic. But he waited until I was done talking to the vet to demonstrate that.

          My pastor’s cat who was put down would probably be alive, but it happened on a weekend. They think he ingested string. Surgery was needed but through emergency services it was $4,000. Pastor said he could have spent $2,000 but not double that, with no guarantees, and it would have been wrong to leave Jonah suffering until Monday, if he could even have survived, so Pastor made the painful decision to euthanize.

          This article was posted over a weekend. My guess is the cat is at the vet now and that PoC was not her only avenue of research. She may have also paid to talk to a vet on the phone as I did. But with the cost of emergency vet services being what they are, if they are even available– with a stroke that was already a few days ago and recovery beginning right away– I would probably take that chance and wait until Monday. But on Monday I’d pay the extra fee at my vet for an emergency appointment. I wouldn’t not treat the stroke at all– but I don’t have thousands lying around either. And there are places in the USA where there is not vet care available at any price over the weekend. It’s really a shame and I don’t understand it, since things happen on weekends too. Another instance of animals being second class citizens.

  8. I Can’t believe all the cat haters. I have always loved cats and found them to be precious and loving. I had a beautiful cat named Spunky that was healthy and such a sweet cat. He was taken to our vet killed. She said she killed him because my husband hated him. I can”t believe a vet would do that. I feel so angry and sad that anyone could do that.

    • He was taken to our vet killed. She said she killed him because my husband hated him.

      I’d love to hear more about this. I don’t understand what you are saying. Thanks for commenting by the way.

    • Do you mean your husband took Spunky to the vets and paid to have him euthanised by her? He must have told that vet he was the owner of the cat because if an owner decides a cat is to be killed, the vet has to do it.
      When I worked for vets we had to ask permission of the person who brought the animal in if we could rehome him/her rather than kill them, if they refused then the vet had to do it.
      Some people stood and watched to make sure we did!
      I’m very sad for you, it is terrible to kill healthy animals.

      • Some people stood and watched to make sure we did!

        God, I hate to read that. I didn’t understand what she said but you did. It must have been that. The wife loved this cat and the husband had the cat killed by a vet. Phew… some marriage and a crazy world.

        • That was my interpretation of what Kidncook meant Michael, it may not be right but it sounded that way to me. I don’t suppose she will ever come back here to clarify it, I’ve noticed some people don’t.
          Like the Barbara who asked the question to start the article here, we will never know if her cat survived will we!
          Yes people stood and watched while I held their healthy pet to be killed by a vet, because pets are property with no rights of their own, we could have been sued if we hadn’t done what they asked.
          I must admit I took that risk if the person didn’t stay to watch, I put the money they’d paid for their cruel deed into an animal charity box and whisked away the victim to be rehomed.
          lol I once took a HUGE alsation home on the bus as we had a friend I knew would love him. Once I had to hold a tiny poodle x pup as the owner watched her die, I knew the perfect home but although I begged the person she refused to let the puppy live. There are many things I will never ever forget from my career as a vet nurse and if I had my time over I could never ever live through them again and stay sane.

          • You should do an article on that. It is a nightmare image but interesting. It is the mentality of demanding their animal be killed and watching it and insisting it happens. Sadistic? What is it?

            The person with the poodle. I presume she thought that only she had the right the own the dog and no one else should. Is that the correct interpretation? If I am correct it shows how people can treat animals as “possessions” and jealously guarding their possession even to this extreme.

            • Yes because that lady owned that poodle x puppy only she could decide its fate. We’d have to find out if it’s still the same since the Animal Welfare Law took effect although I expect it is because I’ve never seen anything about the owner not having the right to decide what becomes of their pet, have you?
              Yes it would make a good article.
              I think I’d have to use a different name to write it under, I don’t think anyone from those days would ever see it on PoC and kick up a fuss, they’d never be able to prove it now anyway as the vets I worked for are either dead or retired, but to be on the safe side ……..

              • Nice point about the Animal Welfare Act. Vets killing (not euthanasia, obviously) pets is outside the ambit of the Act, I am sure, because the pet is killed humanely – no pain or suffering. I think that is the point. The act protects against unnecessary pain and suffering. However, it is a vague grey area I feel. It is straight killing without reason.

                If you’d like to do an article by all means use a pseudonym.

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