Cat Walking With Toes Bent Under

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Can anyone please tell me why my cat starting walking with her toes bent under. She never used to do this.

Her walking got progressively worse until she cant walk at all. She has had numerous blood/ urine tests and an x-ray but they can't find anything wrong.

Pleas help!!...

Update (after my note below):

No she hasn't been declawed. She started walking strange particularly on her right leg. Then eventually to both legs. She would stagger and her toes curled under and try to pull herself along. Now can't use her legs at all for standing. She did get some paint on her fur on the same side and her fur went matted for a while. We tried to groom her but couldn't rid of the matting. The vet washed her and her fur has been fine since.

She does have feeling in them as she can stretch her back legs and pull them back and she spreads her toes when tickled. When I try to get her to stand she doesn't even attempt to use them.

She can't get herself in the litter tray although she tries. We have countless sleepless nights as she keeps waking us up trying to claw her way to the litter tray.

Could it be nerve damage, slipped disc, muscle wasting disease etc although she has been lame now for approx 3-4 months. She has just turned 11 years old.

Vets have advised a mylogram, MRI and a CT Scan but we have already paid over £1300 with out any answers and cant afford any more.

She seems fairly happy in herself and doesn't appear to be in any pain. She eats normal and enjoys treats.

I have attached a photo of her although I dont have any of her standing.

Hi... The problem has occurred after she was walking normally. This is not, therefore a congenital problem (something she was born with).

Something happened during her life and it affects the bones and or claws (it seems). In short, there has been a change. (There are a number of congenital conditions that affect the architecture of the paw)

I am surprised that X rays show that nothing is wrong as an X ray would show that something is wrong, which is that the paw is bent because her toes are bent under! This is in fact very strange.

Something as visually obvious as this must be diagnosable by a vet, surely?

I wonder, did you see the X rays? If not, I would ask to see them together with an explanation of the information on the X ray.

Well. two things come to mind:

Declawed cat: I have emailed you but while I wait for a response I thought I would respond here and modify it, if required, after receiving your further information. {This is now redundant due to the update above}

The toes of a declawed cat sometimes grow back in a deformed way. This is what may be happening.

However, this would be obvious to a vet and he or she has not remarked on this.

Intact Paws: As the bone is affected it would indicate to me possible arthritis, which can deform digits. This is a wild guess. This would show on X rays though. {This too is redundant after receiving the update}

New Updated: Paralysis - Spinal Cord Disease and/or Nerve Injuries: This may be an injury to the brachial and radial nerve involving both front legs. The legs may have been jerked back away from the trunk. The legs are limp. This gives the impression that the toes are bent under. The nerves may be lacerated. They need to be repaired. The nerve usually repairs in 6 months. Without recovery amputation can be an answer (if one leg is involved).

Signs of Radial Nerve Paralysis: The upper side of the paw often drags on the ground (the paw would have to be bent under to do this)- source:

An injury to the spine can cause weakness to one or more limbs. Weakness in all four limbs would indicate a spinal problem. One possible is spinal arthritis but an X ray would reveal this.

Arterial Thromboembolism can cause limb weakness. This is a blood circulation problem and can be tested by a reduced pulse being present.

Thanks for visiting. I will come back and add to this, quite possibly. References: Book 1 Medical References

Michael Avatar

Cat Walking With Toes Bent Under to Cat Health Problems

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Cat Walking With Toes Bent Under

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Feb 12, 2011 rear legs not working
by: Anonymous

my older cat 15 years seems to be having a problem walking with her hind legs. its comes and goes.

Dec 16, 2010 Same Problem recently... 🙁 any updates?
by: Anonymous

My cat just happens to have the same problem with the hind legs not working well, front ones fine. They were working better at first but we didn't know what was wrong with her, every test came back negative. 🙁 Finally, we figured she'd been injured and needed to rest and not walk so much but after several weeks of that, it seems that her legs have gotten so weak in doing so. She was able to walk but was in so much pain, but now with the pain meds she's much better and her personality has come back so much but her legs are now so weak and unable to get around very well. Again, front is fine and yes, she has pain associated with it. but she's able to stretch them and move them and spread her toes when tickled or pet... perplexed! :/ She's an older kitty so I can't put her through the MRI or CT... it's about quality of life for her at this point. I was just hoping someone else with this issue maybe had a younger kitty that it wasn't such a risk for the MRI stuff and see a result. ?

The hardest thing of being a pet owner, besides they don't live nearly long enough, is loving them enough to not let them suffer needlessly... any help would be GREATLY appreciated! Thanks!

S.F. Ca.
God Bless

Jan 25, 2010 Dear Annonymous
by: vikkis

Sorry to hear about your daughters kitten.

I think it would be a good idea to go to another vet and get a second opinion. Has the kitten has an x-ray, blood/ urine tests?

With my cat she cant walk at all but has showed some signs of getting some strength in her back legs even though it is very slight.

After many vet visits and various posts on various sites, this one being most helpful I have definately come to conclusion that Jodie's condition is damage to her nerves mid back. Maybe this could be worth suggesting to your daughters vet as a possibility provided the x-rays, blood/urine tests show nothing is wrong.

Rest and minimising the kittens movement may help but definately get second opinion.

Maybe Michael Poc(Admin) can help with possible answers as he has been very knowledgable with Jodie.

Please keep me informed of any news and I hope your daughters kitten gets better soon.

Jan 24, 2010 Our cat has a problem with his legs too
by: Anonymous

My daughter adopted a kitten 5 months ago from a shelter. The kitten was 2 months old and appeared perfectly healthy the 1st month and was playful running and jumping non stop. His favorite trick was curtain climbing. About 6 weeks ago my daughter came home from work and found him lounging on the sofa however when he tried to stand and walk his hind legs didn't work. He dragged himself around by his front legs. She took him to the vet thinking he had fallen and broken something. The vet found nothing broken and could offer no explanation for his mysterious ailment. He slowly began walking again but does so with a hump in his back and his back legs bent at odd angles. He doesn't seem able to stand for long periods of time. He can no longer run and seems to tire from brief walks across the room. She says he still occasionally has days when he drags himself by his front legs and she has to help him into his litter box and hold him up while he goes potty. He is now 7 months old and she is heartbroken that it appears he may remain this way...

Jan 12, 2010 PS:
by: Everycat

Forgot to mention tendons. When an animal has a protracted period of less than full use of a limb then tendons can contract and make use of the limb even more difficult. You say Jodie can stretch her back legs. Walking and normal use of the limb stretches the tendons with tension and load in the opposite direction to the stretch Jodie does when she's relaxed, so with stretching and use under load (walking etc) the tendons remain flexible and can extend properly.

Ask your vet about this aspect, it might be a secondary development from the original injury/cause. If this is part of Jodies current condition, physiotherapy could really help.


PPS: If you are in the UK only qualified Vets can perform acupuncture therapy on animals.

Jan 12, 2010 To Vikki & Jodie
by: Everycat

Hi Vikki

As your vet says the problem appears to be in a particular area of her spine, and you've mentioned the garage door - that's definately worth exploring. It sounds a very likely way for a cat to hurt itself. Damage to nerve tissue (even bruising) can take a very long time to heal. Nerve tissue is one of the slowest healing tissues in the mammalian body.

Ask your vet about trying some cage rest for Jodie at home with anti-inflamatory drugs. There are several types of steroidal drugs a vet can use to treat inflamation. Full Rest can achieve a great deal for animals. Vets can sometimes lend you a suitable cage. You'd need to fit the cage up with low sided litter tray, food and water. You'd also need to spend time with her ensuring she has some company and entertainment. I have seen cage rest work wonders for cats with nerve damage. You say she can't walk, sometimes cage rest will allow a cat to really relax and feel less compelled to try and walk. Her efforts to get into the litter tray could be making her spinal issue worse. You know her litter habits and could probably work out a timetable to actively help her use the litter tray. Cats will adapt to this when they are having problems like you describe when she uses the tray. Sometimes just a helping hand to lean against is all they need.

As nothing explicit is showing on the x rays, please don't get too involved on what it might be (many serious things have been mentioned here but from what you say there is no evidence of them) - Your vet is probably the best person to speculate and vets rightly concentrate on looking for common things first. A bruised nerve may not show up on an x ray so your vet is unable to say what is happening.

A myelogram would be alot to put your cat through, even the CT and MRI can take their toll on an older cat. I think you are wise to hold off of these. There is no guarantee that they would show anything specific behind Jodie's problem

You could also ask your vet about a referral to a licenced animal physiotherapist for an assessment One who has an active interest in felines would be best. They have a good record at helping recovery with supportive physical therapy and have many non intrusive ways of examining a cat to establish what a problem is. A local vet school may have one on their staff.

I'm almost reticent to suggest it but a qualified vet who offers veterinary acupuncture might have a way of helping Jodie too. It does need to be a vet who carries it out though as only they will have the detailed knowledge of neural anatomy. There is much evidence that acupuncture can be very useful in recovery.

Best of luck, I hope you find a way of helping Jodie, she's a lovely little cat.


Jan 12, 2010 Jodie
by: Vikki

Firstly I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to reply to my post. It is re-assuring to know that there are people out there who love their pets as much as I do. Especially when I have been advised by many that I should put Jodie to sleep and who have put expense before her welfare.

I must say your advice has been very helpful, more helpful than any other posts or professional advice sought.

I will definately look into Vet School and Cat Specialists and also research Arterial Thromboembolism, Spinal Cord Disease, Lacerated Nerves etc.

Too expand on the problem further:

The vet did say it appears the problem is approx half way down her spine. Her two front paws and everything from the waste up is normal. It is just her back two legs that wont work.

We have tried Steroids, Vivatonin and various medications but nothing has helped.

We have had a new addition nearly two years ago and adopted another cat, Bonnie. I did get Bonnie vaccinated, micro chipped and a check by a Vet but wondered if she could have passed something onto Jodie as her past is rather vague?

Alternatively, could Jodie's symptoms be a result of being kicked and it lacerating the nerve, would this show on an x-ray?


We have had a garage door put on a car port which has a small gap in one corner. I have seen Jodie scramble under the gap which is very small and wonder if she may have been chased by a dog and injured her back while scrambling through in a panic?

Apologies for the lon text

Many thanks for your help

Vikki & Jodie x

Jan 11, 2010 Toes Bent Under
by: Kay and Coco

Several years ago I had a barn cat who had nerve damage to her legs and this caused her to walk on her toes. However she was never not able to walk.
I contacted my vet and asked her what she thought might be a likely answer to your kitty's problem, With out seeing her and not seeing any of your test results, my vet suggested your kitty has most likely suffered a nerve injury that is getting progressively worse, since she can no longer walk.
Vet bills here in the US are just as outrageous as in the UK. Is there a vet school you could take her to? I most cases Vet schools charge little or nothing to solve mystery cases as they provide a learning experience for the future vets. I wish I could be of more help. Please keep us posted, Regards, Kay and Coco

Jan 11, 2010 A real problem
by: Ruth

I'm sorry you can't get any diagnosis or treatment for your cat's problem.I'm a retired vet nurse but this is something beyond me and I can only agree with Michael's suggestions as to what it could be.
I'm wondering if there is a cat specialist anywhere you could get to ? If you took all the results of the tests your cat has had so far along with you(the vets you've already seen should be willing to give them to you) for a consultation, he/she might just come up with a new idea.You'd have to pay another consultation fee but at least you'd know you'd done everything you can for your cat although it would be very disappointing for you if he/she couldn't help either.
Please keep us updated if you don't mind

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Jan 10, 2010 Cat walking with toes bent.
by: Rudolph/A.Furtado

May your cat get healed and i am really surprised at the astronomic cost of medical treatment for your cat, 1300 Sterling(Rs 1,10,000! approx).Ultimately owning a pet is akin to a human companion and people who intend owning pets should realise the cost, care and emotional bonds that exist with your pet.
I am really heartened by this story of such an astronomical amount of money spent on the treatment of your cat, something totally rare, especially in these times of "Economic Depression"
Rudolph avatar

Jan 10, 2010 Undertoed kitty
by: Jan Plant

As I have no professional expertise with this, I am definitely looking forward to all updates.Both on your poor cat, and Michael's info.I'd search it myself,but sadly would not know where to begin!Hope you find an answer soon.

6 thoughts on “Cat Walking With Toes Bent Under”

  1. My cat is often splaying his back paw toes when standing or lying down. The right paw he does more and it has a small cyst the vet squeezed to drain on top of the paw. The outer toes separate away from the paw. I sent the photos to a neurologist and asked if it was normal and he said no. I had blood work done, comprehensive including an IBD test because he hunches. xray (constipation seen and I read that could cause hunching), hips, feet abdomen normal. Blood glucose 255 but he was stressed. He is 8 years old and has a flare up of a rectal prolapse at times since young -see red at rear. What could be causing his paw splaying? Thank You.

    • Bonnie, are you saying that your cat’s toes spread out because your cat consciously does this? Or are you saying that your cat has no control over it? ‘Splaying his back paw toes’ means spreading out the toes as if it is part of the stretching process. Is that what you are describing?

  2. hi, it may be C A very similar to CH but cats are not born with it. my 6 month old kitten has the same thing and keeps falling down the stairs 😔 how is your cat now??

  3. Hello there, so sory th hear all of this. our cat 11 years old was all of a sudden dragging his rear legs. took him to the vet. with meds and x rays blood tests exc… not inexpensive. Hes worth it though. No eating or Drinking, wouldnt move. started doing therapy on my own….. giving him hope, making him walk to breakfast, lunch and dinner… dragging at first. with my hand under him. shaking his treat box in diferent parts of the house. This morning he walked into our bedroom and was purring like a little machine!!!! also bringing him outside to hear and see the birds. sorry. This post is choppy. Im busy with him. I also stopped forcing him to take food. Hes back! Walking in the top of his foot though. Vet today. More therapy and love!!! We feel very lucky. Good luck.and love to all tha kitties.


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