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Spinal and Vertebral Birth Defects in Cats



Surgery can be helpful for cases involving narrowing of the spinal canal and decompression of the spinal cord. Secondary damage due to spinal compression may be avoided if surgical intervention takes place early on. If the spinal compression is diffuse or long-term, your cat may not respond to surgery. If your cat has an opening in the skin where the spinal malformation is present, it may be surgically repaired.


If your cat is showing neurological signs such as dizziness, seizures or paralysis postoperatively, restricted activity combined with physical therapy may be helpful.


Living and Management


Your cat will need to revisit your veterinarian every four to six months for neurological examinations and to monitor progression of clinical signs. X-rays will be retaken with each follow-up visit as well.


In some cases, management of long term symptoms will be necessary. Fecal and urinary incontinence are common, as well as constipation and urinary tract infections. Medications to soften the feces, an easily digestible diet, and occasional treatment with antibiotics is standard for some cats with spinal malformations.


Cats that have been diagnosed with this defect should not be bred, nor should their parents be bred further, since congenital spinal and vertebral malformations are hereditary. Spaying and neutering is strongly recommended for these animals.