A 10-year-old, 8.4-kg, strictly indoor male domestic longhair cat was presented for acute nonambulatory tetraparesis. Conscious proprioceptive deficits were noted in all 4 limbs, and clinicopathologic diagnostics revealed no abnormalities. Cervical myelography revealed an extradural compressive lesion between the second and third cervical vertebrae (C2-C3), and the cat became progressively tachypneic, with notable cyanosis of the tongue and gingiva. The cat was taken immediately to surgery, where a standard ventral slot decompression was performed. The cat experienced ongoing respiratory depression postoperatively and required intubation on day 3 postoperatively, shortly after which it died of cardiorespiratory arrest. Previous reports of cats with severe clinical signs secondary to disk extrusion have reported good outcomes resulting from surgical decompression. None of the lesions in these previous reports, however, were located cranial to the C3-C4 intervertebral disk. The cat in this report had a disk lesion at C2-C3, which for a variety of reasons can lead to respiratory paralysis.

COMMENTARY: Nonambulatory tetraparesis associated with cervical intervertebral disk disease is reported to occur in 0.12% of cats, which is much lower than the 2% noted in dogs. Differentials for tetraparesis include neoplasia, fibrocartilaginous embolism, luxation and fracture of vertebrae, hematoma, cysts, abscesses, and intervertebral disk disease.

Acute non-ambulatory tetraparesis attributable to cranial cervical intervertebral disc disease in a cat. Maritato KC, Colon JA, Mauterer JV. J FELINE MED SURG 9:494-498, 2007. doi:10.1016/j.jfms.2007.03.009