Dear Dr. Magnifico, I’m writing to you about my 19-year-old cat, Molly who was recently…

Dear Dr. Magnifico,

I’m writing to you about my 19-year-old cat, Molly who was recently diagnosed with FCE or IVDD. I have a few questions which I hope you can answer for me.

Two weeks ago tonight, I left home for a few hours. Molly was fine when I left. When I got home, I found Molly under the bed with her back legs paralyzed. Although Molly was paralyzed, she did not appear to be in pain. Molly has always had a strong appetite. I fed her canned cat food through the night by slipping it under the bed. She ate normally.

I took Molly to her vet on Thursday morning. The vet did an xray and said that she thought Molly had either FCE or IVDD. Molly had no movement in her back legs, but she did have deep pain sensation in both back paws. The vet told me that if Molly had FCE, then she had a 25% chance of recovering significant leg movement within 2-3 days. If after 2-3 days she still hadn’t recovered any use of her legs, the chances that she would ever recover decreased to 10%. The vet said that if Molly had IVDD (which is the diagnosis she was leaning toward) then she had no chance of recovery of function in her legs. The vet recommended waiting until the following Monday to give Molly a chance to recover some leg function. If she didn’t show signs of recovery by Monday, she recommended euthanizing her. The vet gave me a prescription for prednisolone and gabapentin and I brought Molly in to the office 3 days in a row (Thurs. Fri. and Sat.) for a laser treatment.

Between Thursday and Monday, I did some reading and watched some YouTube videos about FCE and IVDD. What I learned appeared to be at odds with what the vet told me. There is a YouTube video showing physical therapy exercises one man did with his dog who has FCE. This man’s dog was paralyzed for 2 months. In the third month, the dog began to walk again. I watched every video you made about Hank and his recovery from IVDD. Hank appeared to be in worse shape than Molly was in the beginning. Molly lost back leg function, but her front legs were fine.

On Monday, I told Molly’s vet that based on what I’d learned about FCE and IVDD, I was planning to give Molly more time to recover. The vet said that she was very skeptical about Molly’s chances of recovery but it was my choice. She recommended that I continue to bring Molly in for laser treatments. Other than that, she gave me no advice or guidance on how to help Molly.

Molly has other health issues. She was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism at age 14. It’s been under control with methimazole since her diagnosis. She was diagnosed with kidney disease at age 17. Her kidney values have remained stable since her diagnosis. Also at age 17, she was diagnosed with high blood pressure. Her blood pressure has remained normal since she began taking a small dose of amlodipine daily. So, Molly has some health problems, but everything was under control with medication.

Since the time that Molly was diagnosed with kidney disease 2 years ago, she has used the litter box frequently – about every 2 hours. She eats a lot of canned food and drinks a lot of water. The vet has said that she’s not dehydrated. I give Molly a potassium supplement and B12.

Molly seems to feel good. Her appetite has remained normal. She is alert and affectionate – she has continued to be this way since developing paralysis two weeks ago.

Right after Molly’s paralysis, I thought I saw some small movement in her back legs. Two weeks later, I see some unmistakable movement now in both hind legs. But the movement I’m seeing is far from normal movement. On Christmas Day, I made a video which I uploaded to YouTube of some of the movement I’m seeing in Molly’s legs. I’d like to know if this movement is a step toward Molly recovering her leg function or not.

Molly Saying Hello – 19 seconds – Dec. 24, 2018

Molly Leg Movement – 3:30 seconds – Christmas Day – In addition to the movement seen in the video, I’ve seen Molly stretch her leg backward and curl the toes of both feet on multiple occasions.

In the very beginning, when the vet said Molly’s condition might be FCE, I found a YouTube video on physical therapy for FCE ( It was basically moving the affected leg in a bicycle motion 25 times 4 times a day. I did that with Molly for a few days. I did it very slowly and gently. It didn’t cause Molly any pain (she often fell asleep as I did it). After I started thinking it was more likely that Molly has IVDD, I became concerned the PT exercises were the wrong thing to do and almost discontinued doing them. Now, I wonder if that was a mistake because Molly’s legs have become much stiffer than they were in the beginning. I can no longer do these exercises with Molly because of the stiffness in her legs.

I just need some guidance about how well or badly Molly is doing and what to do to help her recover going forward. I plan to continue working with Molly’s current vet but would like input from someone knowledgeable about IVDD.

Thank you so much for sharing your opinion and thank you for the wonderful, helpful videos on IVDD. I wish I lived near your clinic because Molly would be your patient tomorrow if I lived near you.

With appreciation,

Lisa Crabtree

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Krista Magnifico
2 years ago

Hello Lisa, Wow. This is an impressive and interesting case! Here’s my honest advice. Go to a vet who specializes in feline medicine. My impression is that this isn’t IVDD as it doesn’t seem to be associated with pain or the typical presentation. I would be more inclined to hunk it is related to the high blood pressure and might be a thromboembolism. She would need more tests done to diagnose this. I also think that a consult with a neurologist might be hugely helpful. Lastly, and most importantly, your cat is your decision. If she is happy and you… Read more »