Clostridium botulinum in Cats
Botulism is a rare but serious paralytic disease related to ingestion of raw meat and dead animals. The Clostridium botulinum neurotoxin causes spreading weakness, starting in the back legs and ascending to the trunk, front legs, and neck, followed by paralysis of all four limbs.
Cats are generally resistant to the more severe effects of this toxin, but in some cases they may become severely ill. Typically, disease conditions occur within a few hours to six days after eating spoiled animal meat that is infected with the Clostridium botulinum type C preformed neurotoxin.
Mildly affected cats generally recover over a period of several days with supportive treatment. However, cats that are having difficulties breathing will require intensive care monitoring. In severe cases, paralysis can affect the ability to breath killing the affected animal.
Symptoms and Types
- Sudden spreading weakness starting in hind legs and ascending to the trunk, front legs, and neck
- Severe weakness of all four legs or paralysis of all four limbs (which usually occurs within 12 to 24 hours of onset)
- Clostridium botulinum type C preformed neurotoxin, eaten in dead animal carcasses, or in uncooked or spoiled foods
You will need to give your veterinarian a thorough history of your cat's health, onset of symptoms, and possible incidents that might have preceded this condition, such as contact with spoiled meat or dead animals.
Your veterinarian will perform a full physical exam of your cat, with standard tests including a chemical blood profile, complete blood count and urinalysis. Blood will also be taken to test for the presence of botulinum toxin in the blood serum. Likewise, your veterinarian may take a stool sample or vomit to test for the the toxin.
X-rays of your cat's chest may be taken to check the health of the lungs and upper digestive tract, as this toxin can cause paralysis of the respiratory muscles.