My Cat Can’t Walk - Causes And Solutions

By Ameera Mills. Updated: July 7, 2022
My Cat Can’t Walk - Causes And Solutions

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Have you noticed your cat suddenly can’t walk? Are you wondering about the common causes that may explain why your cat can’t walk or why your cat is struggling to walk? Although the reasons that cause this difficulty are not always serious, we risk permanent cat paralysis if we do not seek veterinary treatment. This treatment is only possible to prescribe once the cause that prevents proper ambulation in cats is diagnosed.

Sometimes recovery may require surgery, hence the importance of veterinary consultation. In this way, if your cat walks weird or cannot walk at all, do not hesitate to consult a specialist. For more about why my cat can’t walk without falling over or why my cat can’t walk at all, keep reading at AnimalWised.

You may also be interested in: Why Is My Dog Trembling And Can’t Walk?

My cat can’t walk on her back legs

Before we begin to explain the reasons why a cat can’t walk or stand, we need to pay attention to the characteristics of this impediment. The type of cat paralysis will help a vet diagnose the specific problem. A cat can suffer paralysis when it stops walking altogether. This problem is more common in the hind legs than the forelimbs and can completely prevent them from moving. Your cat will not be able to walk or even stand.

If your cat's back legs are collapsing, we see it happens more commonly in their hind legs. In these cases, the weakness is obvious. You may notice your cat try to stand, but falls or cannot move at all. When they do succeed in walking, they may make strange movements such as raising the legs abnormally or the cat walks in circles. Other times, difficulty in mobility occurs because the cat is suffering from tremors, tics or convulsions throughout their body.

Paralysis in cats

The causes of cat paralysis can include an accident, being hit with something, a dog attack attack or a steep fall. This occurs when the spinal column is affected, impairing the nervous system’s communication with the legs. This interruption can cause immobility in your cat’s legs. These incidents can also cause life threatening injuries, so going to a vet immediately is imperative. Make sure to always handle your cat with care in order not to worsen any injury.

In general, paralysis due to trauma means your cat will try to move as if unharmed. You will likely see them dragging their legs behind their body. Does your cat drag its hind legs or front legs?

An x-ray or an MRI can give us information about the state of your cat’s vertebral column. Treatment will depend on the extent of the damage. Medication, rehabilitation or surgery may be required. A cat suffering from paralysis can recover or maintain sequelae, depending on the case’s specifics.

To prevent paralysis in cats, make sure your cat avoids open windows and does not have access to great heights. You can opt for placing mosquito nets on your windows to avoid falls.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in cats

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can also cause paralysis in the legs of a cat, specifically targeting the hind legs and tail. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in cats occurs when the cat’s cardiovascular system fails and blood flow decreases. For more, we recommend reading our article where we discuss heart failure in cats.

Cats can develop something known as high rise syndrome, a compulsion to climb to very high places from which they cannot come down. You can find more information in our video below where we show you how to stop cats climbing to places they shouldn't:

My cat can’t walk straight

There are numerous causes which can explain your cat is having trouble walking or standing. In older cats, you may notice that they stop climbing to heights. This is often a a sign of pain caused by a degenerative process such as osteoarthritis in cats. If you believe your cat may be suffering a degenerative disease or has suffered trauma, take a look at our article where we answer how can to tell if a cat is in pain.

Cats that have previously or are currently recovering from diseases such as feline panleukopenia (feline parvovirus) can also suffer from neurological sequelae that affect their walking. These such cats will struggle to walk straight and lift their legs properly, giving them an abnormal gait. Does your cat lose their balance easily? Does your cat lack coordination? This may be the reason why. These damages can be irreversible, but they may be able to live a happy life even with an impaired gait.

Vestibular syndrome in cats

Vestibular syndrome in cats is a neurological disorder in cats that produces symptoms such as:

  • Head tilting
  • Walking in circles
  • Nystagmus (continuous eye movements)
  • Strabismus
  • Ataxia in cats, which produces the lack of coordination that will make it difficult to walk.

This syndrome can be caused by trauma, otitis in cats, infectious diseases, etc. In order to identify the triggering cause, a neurological examination is required. Vestibular syndrome in cats can be treated, but some cats may be left with a permanently tilted head[1].

Finally, lack of balance in cats can also be caused by a cat ear infection. This will require veterinary consultation and is treated with antibiotics.

My cat can’t walk and won’t eat due to poisoning

Sometimes cats can’t walk because they’ve lost control over their bodies. Are you wondering why your cat can’t walk and keeps falling over? This loss of body control in cats can result from or can be caused by seizures in cats, tremors or tics, sometimes accompanied by other symptoms. These cases are often caused by cat poisoning, which requires immediate veterinary attention. Prognosis in these cases depends on the substance which was ingested, the length of time after ingestion, and the age, breed and health status of the cat.

To avoid cat poisoning and cat seizures or tremors, you must ensure your cat is always safe. Make sure to prevent access to potentially toxic substances or plants. Special care must be taken when it comes to anti-parasitic products for dogs. Although safe for canines, they sometimes include active ingredients which are toxic for cats.

If you know which substance has caused the cat poisoning, make sure to inform your veterinarian. With fluid therapy and medication, it is possible for your cat to reach recovery completely, although this depends on the prognosis[2]. For more, we recommend reading our article where discuss symptoms of poisoning in cats.

My Cat Can’t Walk - Causes And Solutions - My cat can’t walk and won’t eat due to poisoning

My cat won’t walk on his front paw

Have you noticed your cat walking weird? Sometimes cats struggle to walk due to injury. Therefore, if you suspect any localized damage to your cat’s paws, make sure to examine its fingers, nails and paw pads well. If you notice any paw injury, contact your veterinarian.

To avoid paw injuries in cats, make sure that your cat doesn’t walk on hot surfaces. In addition, make sure your cat’s nails are always well maintained. We recommend establishing a routine where you check your cat’s paws and nails regularly. For more, take a look at our article where we discuss healing wounds on a cat’s paw pads.

Other reasons my cat can’t walk on one back leg

If your cat’s hing legs are failing and none of the previous causes correspond to your cat’s individual case, there are other pathologies that carry this condition as a symptom. Have you noticed that your cat can’t walk or stand? Other causes of sudden paralysis in cats back legs include:

In all of the above cases, veterinary intervention is necessary. If you’re cat is struggling to walk and does not receive professional medical help, your cat’s life could be seriously compromised.

My kitten can’t walk all of a sudden

Have you noticed that your kitten can’t walk or stand? Other than the causes mentioned above, when it comes to kittens, we have to analyze the possibility of fading kitten syndrome.

Especially when they are under the age of 8 months of age, kittens are very fragile and susceptible to illness. If your kitten suddenly can’t walk, is lethargic and unresponsive immediate veterinary attention is required.

Symptoms of fading kitten syndrome

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Trouble walking or standing
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive crying
  • Pale or white gums
  • Low body temperature

Causes of fading kittens syndrome

  • Inadequate care and attention
  • Trauma
  • Hypothermia
  • Bacterial infection
  • Viral infections: herpesvirus, Feline AIDS etc.
  • Underdeveloped immunity

Treatment of fading kitten syndrome

If your kitten can’t walk or stand, is very cold or showing any other sign of these above mentioned symptoms: take it to the veterinarian immediately. In addition, make sure the kitten is warm, has enough water and is offered an adequate high quality diet.

For more, we recommend taking a look at our article where we discuss how to care for kittens.

My Cat Can’t Walk - Causes And Solutions - My kitten can’t walk all of a sudden

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to My Cat Can’t Walk - Causes And Solutions, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.


1. Burke, E. E., Moise, N. S., de Lahunta, A., & Erb, H. N. (1985). Review of idiopathic feline vestibular syndrome in 75 cats. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 187(9), 941-943.

2. Crismon, J. M., Crismon, C. S., Calabresi, M., & Darrow, D. C., (1943). Electrolyte Resdistribution in Cat Heart and Skeletal Muscle in Potassium Poisoning. The Journal of American Physiology, 139(5), 667-674.

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Ruth Udarbe
Hi can i ask my cat suddenly He can't walk he doesn't stand and he doesn't eat or drink water
Marcia McDonald
I think my cat has arthritis really bad. I want to take her to my vet tomorrow. Can you please tell me anything about her current condition like how it is difficult for her to walk?
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