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How to Recognize and Treat Diskspondylitis in Cats

Diskspondylitis in Cats

As cat owners, one of the last things we would want to see is our beloved pets in pain. As much as we try to provide the best possible care, our cats can still fall victim to unfortunate illnesses.

One such illness is diskspondylitis, a condition that affects the vertebral column. The vertebral column is made up of individual bones known as vertebrae.

These bones are separated by disks that work as shock absorbers, cushioning the bones as the cat moves. These disks are vital as they protect the spinal cord, which is responsible for transmitting messages between the brain and the rest of the body.

However, when these disks become infected, they can lead to a condition known as diskspondylitis. This condition can lead to severe pain, resulting in a decrease in a cat’s mobility and quality of life.


Diskspondylitis is commonly caused by bacterial or fungal infections that affect the soft tissues surrounding the vertebral column. Infections can occur due to a variety of factors such as puncture wounds, fractures, or abscesses.

If left untreated, these infections can spread from the soft tissue to the disks and eventually to the bone, resulting in bone loss, deformities, and instability.


The symptoms of diskspondylitis may vary depending on the severity of the condition. However, some common symptoms may include back pain, difficulty standing and jumping, stiff, uncoordinated walk, limb weakness, and fever.

In some severe cases, the cat may experience paralysis.


If you suspect that your cat may be suffering from diskspondylitis, it’s crucial to seek medical attention immediately. Your veterinarian will conduct a physical exam, laboratory tests, radiographic studies, myelography, computed tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging.


Treatment for diskspondylitis will depend on the severity of the infection. If detected in its early stage, the cat may receive oral or injectable antibiotics and painkillers.

However, in severe cases, hospitalization may be required, and the cat may need surgery. During surgery, the veterinarian will remove the infected tissue and fluid.

In some cases, the veterinarian may need to remove the entire disk, which can result in further complications, such as instability.

Living and Management

If your cat has undergone surgery, it’s essential to provide them with a soft, dry, well-padded surface, such as a comfortable bed or cage, to allow them to rest and heal. Your cat may need to be placed on cage rest to prevent further injury and reduce physical activity.

Ensure that your cat has access to food, water, and a litter box, positioned closely, as mobility will be restricted. Always consult with your veterinarian about any physical therapy that may aid in the healing process.

Symptoms and Types

Back Pain

Signs of back pain in cats can manifest in various ways. You may notice that your cat is distressed, avoiding being touched, or showing signs of discomfort when they are picked up.

Another way to check is by observing your cat’s behavior, such as hunching over or arching their back consistently.

Difficulty in Standing and Jumping

Your cat may show signs of difficulty standing after lying down for an extended period. Your cat may also show signs of weakness in their hind limbs, resulting in difficulty in jumping or even standing.

Stiff, Uncoordinated Walk

Your cat may begin to show signs of a stiff and uncoordinated walk. Sometimes, they may also take short strides and may appear to drag or shuffle their back legs.

Limb Weakness and Lameness

In severe cases, your cat may experience limb weakness or lameness. Your cat will exhibit signs of difficulty in moving their hind limbs and may require assistance in moving around your home.


If your cat has an underlying infection, they may develop a fever as a symptom. You may notice that they are showing signs of lethargy, a loss of appetite, and lack of interest in playing.

Paralysis in Some Patients

In severe cases, a cat may experience partial or complete paralysis. If you notice that your cat is struggling to move, unable to stand or walk, consult a veterinarian immediately.


Diskspondylitis is a severe condition that can lead to serious health issues for your cat if left untreated. If you suspect that your cat may be suffering from this condition, seek immediate medical attention.

Infections can spread quickly, affecting other areas of the body, causing disabilities, and, in some cases, loss of life. Awareness of the symptoms and causes of diskspondylitis will help you detect potential issues early, leading to more successful treatment outcomes and increased quality of life for your cat.

Causes of

Diskspondylitis in Cats

Diskspondylitis is a severe condition that results from an infection of the disks or the soft tissues of the vertebral column. Various factors can cause infections, which may vary in severity.

Identifying the cause of the infection will help provide a better diagnosis and effective treatment.

Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infections are the most common cause of diskspondylitis in cats. Bacteria can enter the cat’s body through open wounds or infections in the surrounding tissues.

Common bacterial infections that can cause diskspondylitis include Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, and Streptococcus intermedius. Bacterial infections can cause severe complications if left untreated.

It’s crucial to provide immediate medical care if you notice any signs of infection.

Fungal Infections

Fungal infections are rare in cats, but they can still cause diskspondylitis. Fungi can enter the cat’s body through open wounds or infections in the surrounding tissues.

Common fungal infections that can cause diskspondylitis include Aspergillosis, Cryptococcosis, and Blastomycosis. Fungal infections can cause severe complications if left untreated.

It’s crucial to provide immediate medical care if you notice any signs of infection.


Surgery is a common cause of diskspondylitis in cats.

Surgery that involves the vertebral column poses a considerable risk to cats due to the potential for bacteria entering the wound.

If the surgery exposes the discs and vertebral column, there is a high risk of introducing bacteria into the cat’s body. The cat’s immune system is also typically weakened during the recovery period, making them more susceptible to infections.

Bite Wounds

Bite wounds are one of the leading causes of diskspondylitis in cats. Bite wounds from other animals, particularly dogs, can lead to infections that eventually spread to the cat’s vertebral column.

Cats that are allowed outside are more likely to encounter other animals and suffer from bite wounds. It’s crucial to provide your cat with proper protection if they are allowed outside to reduce the likelihood of injury.

Fractures and Back Injuries

Fractures and back injuries can lead to infections that eventually cause diskspondylitis. Injuries to the vertebral column can increase the risk of infection due to the exposed tissues.

Injured cats need immediate medical attention to prevent infections and receive proper treatment.

Abscess Near the Site of Inflammation

An abscess near the site of inflammation can lead to the spread of infections to other parts of the vertebral column, leading to diskspondylitis. Abscesses develop when bacteria invade tissues, and the body encapsulates them in pus.

As the abscesses grow, they spread to surrounding tissues, leading to inflammation and possible infections.


Diagnosing diskspondylitis can be challenging due to the variety of symptoms that cats may exhibit. It’s necessary to conduct a thorough analysis of the cat’s medical history and perform several diagnostic tests to offer a proper diagnosis.

Physical Exam

Your veterinarian will conduct a physical exam to check for any signs of infection or spinal cord damage. During the exam, the veterinarian will check the cat’s reflexes, muscle strength, and pain response.

The veterinarian may also palpate the spine to check if there are any lumps or bumps that may indicate an infection.

Laboratory Tests

To diagnose diskspondylitis, the veterinarian may perform complete blood count tests, biochemistry profile, urinalysis, laboratory culturing, and drug sensitivity testing. These tests can detect underlying infections or any abnormalities in the cat’s immune system.

Radiographic Studies

Radiographic studies are another diagnostic tool that can help diagnose diskspondylitis. Radiographs of the vertebral column can detect abnormalities, including degenerative changes, fractures, or infections.

Myelography, computed tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging can also help detect compressions in the spinal cord. Early detection and diagnosis of diskspondylitis are crucial in treating the condition.

Seeking immediate medical attention will ensure the best possible outcomes for your cat. With timely diagnosis and treatment, your cat can recover from the infection and lead a happy, healthy life.

Treatment and Living Management of

Diskspondylitis in Cats

Once diagnosed with diskspondylitis, your cat will require immediate treatment to manage the symptoms and prevent further complications. The severity of the condition will determine the type of treatment required.

Intensive Care and


Severely affected cats with advanced diskspondylitis may require hospitalization and surgery to remove infected tissue and fluid.

Surgery aims to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and reduce inflammation.

During hospitalization, cats will receive around-the-clock care to manage their pain levels and reduce the risk of complications.


Antibiotics play a significant role in the treatment of diskspondylitis in cats. Depending on the severity of the condition, your veterinarian may recommend a specific antibiotic treatment system.

It’s crucial to follow the veterinarian’s advice and complete the full course of antibiotics for the best possible outcome.

Pain Killers

Pain killers provide relief from the pain associated with diskspondylitis. Your veterinarian may prescribe pain killers to manage the pain, helping your cat feel more comfortable and allowing them to rest.

Removal of Infected Tissue and Fluid

Removing infected tissue and fluid is critical to treating diskspondylitis. Your veterinarian may recommend surgery to remove the infected tissue and fluid around the site of the infection.

By removing infected material, your cat will experience relief from pain and inflammation. Soft, Dry, Well-Padded Surface

Providing your cat with a soft, dry, well-padded surface to rest is critical to their recovery.

The surface should allow your cat to rest comfortably without putting undue pressure on their spinal cord and vertebral column.

Cage Rest

Cage rest may be necessary to prevent further injury and facilitate healing. Your cat will need to remain in a cage or confined area to reduce their movement and encourage rest.

The cage should be big enough to allow them to move freely but also small enough to prevent excessive movement.

Change in Body Position

It’s crucial to change your cat’s body position frequently to prevent the formation of bed sores or ulcers. Prolonged periods of inactivity can lead to pressure on the skin and muscles, leading to the formation of ulcers.

Changing your cat’s body position frequently will help prevent this from happening.

Follow-Up Evaluation

Follow-up evaluation is necessary to monitor your cat’s progress and adjust the treatment plan as needed. Your veterinarian will schedule regular check-ups to evaluate your cat’s progress and make any necessary changes to the treatment plan.

Complete Antibiotic


Completing the full course of antibiotic treatment is critical to improving your cat’s health. Failing to complete the antibiotic treatment may result in incomplete eradication of the infection, leading to a recurrence of the condition.

Avoid Over Medication

It’s essential to avoid over-medicating your cat and accurately follow the dosage instructions provided by your veterinarian. Over-medicating your cat can result in adverse effects and interfere with their recovery.

In conclusion, diskspondylitis is a severe condition that requires immediate medical attention. With proper treatment and management, your cat can recover from the infection and lead a happy, healthy life.

Providing the appropriate care, including rest, medication, and follow-up care, will ensure the best possible outcome for your cat. Diskspondylitis is a severe condition that results from an infection of the disks or soft tissues of the vertebral column.

The condition can cause a range of symptoms, including back pain, difficulty in standing and jumping, stiffness and uncoordinated walk, limb weakness and lameness, fever, and in severe cases, paralysis. Early diagnosis, treatment, and management are crucial in managing the condition.

Treatment may involve antibiotics, pain killers, surgery, and removal of infected tissue and fluid. Proper living and management such as soft, dry, well-padded surface, cage rest, and complete antibiotic treatment are essential to ensure the best possible outcomes for your cat.

Awareness of the causes, symptoms, and treatment of diskspondylitis can help cat owners provide immediate assistance and prevent further complications.

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