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C2005-23

Dear Christopher Cat

My cat was completely normal one minute, and the next, she couldn’t use her back legs. Her hind feet were cold, and she cried constantly.

My veterinarian diagnosed a saddle thromboembolism and recommended euthanasia.

It was over so fast – and I was so stressed – that I don’t remember much of what the vet said. Would you explain saddle thromboembolism?

Christopher Responds

A saddle thromboembolism is a blood clot that gets stuck where the cat’s aorta, the main artery from the heart, divides to enter the hind legs.

The clot blocks the flow of blood into one or both legs, leaving them cooler than the front legs. Normally pink pads appear pale pink or white, and the pulses are diminished or absent.

Robbed of their normal blood flow, the muscles and nerves don’t function properly – and the hind legs hurt.

The prognosis is grave, in part because most cats with saddle thromboembolism have underlying heart disease.

Half live only a couple of days. Most that survive the long treatment process suffer recurrences, so they live, on average, only four months.

My feline family members and I extend our sympathy to you.

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