Pistachio, a 13 month old Sphynx Cat, was referred to our neurology service for a several month history of progressive ambulatory ataxia in his pelvic limbs. You can see in the video below that when he tried to walk he would take very dramatic steps with his left hind leg or his legs would give out from under him.
It is very abnormal for such a young cat to have such pronounced ataxia without a known injury. This lead our doctors to draw some preliminary conclusions about what the problem might be. Their suspicions were confirmed once we performed an MRI of Pistachio's spine. In the area from his 7th to 9th thoracic vertebra there were signs of a congenital vertebral malformation causing compression of the intervertebral discs and subsequently the spinal cord. This meant that several bones in his spine had formed incorrectly and, as he grew, they started to cause a strain on the flexible discs in between them. The resulting pressure on the spinal cord and nerves interrupted the nerve signals between his hind limbs and his brain causing the ataxia
At this point the only option for any kind of recovery was for Pistachio to undergo a surgical procedure. Our neurologist performed a hemilaminectomy and corpectomy of the area to correct and stabilize the area of the spine in hopes that he would recover function in his hind limbs and prevent further spinal issues in the future. After his surgery our team followed his progress closely and less than two months later he has almost completely regained function.
There is still some slight ataxia but as he continues to strengthen and retrain his motor function the hope is that a full recovery is in his future. Way to go Pistachio!