Scoliosis in Cats: A Quick Guide What is Feline Scoliosis and How to Treat It

Scoliosis in Cats: A Quick Guide Photo by Breanne Sartori:

Scoliosis, a disorder that causes the spine to curve, can affect both people and cats. Learn about its effects on cats in this article.

Scoliosis, a disorder that causes the spine to curve, can affect both humans and cats. While it is not as common in felines as it is in humans, scoliosis can still cause significant discomfort and mobility issues for affected cats. 

In this article, we will discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for scoliosis in cats. We will also explore what pet owners can do to help their feline friends manage scoliosis.

Causes of Scoliosis in Cats

Scoliosis in cats is typically caused by a congenital (present at birth) or developmental abnormality of the spine. This can include a malformation of the vertebrae or a problem with the formation of the spinal cord. Scoliosis can occasionally also result from trauma or injury to the spine.

Infections, tumors, and degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis can also lead to scoliosis in cats. Over time, the spine may get damaged by these disorders and begin to curve.

Additionally, nutritional deficiencies, particularly those related to Vitamin D and Calcium, could be a reason for scoliosis in cats.

However, in some cases, the cause of scoliosis in cats may not be identified.

We recommend you seek veterinary attention if the cat is showing any signs of discomfort or mobility issues. The veterinarian will perform a physical examination, take X-rays and possibly conduct other diagnostic tests to determine the cause of scoliosis and to create a treatment plan.


Depending on the degree of spinal curvature and the underlying cause of the ailment, the symptoms of scoliosis in cats might change. Some common symptoms include:

  • Visible curvature of the spine: This is often the most obvious symptom of scoliosis in cats. The curvature can be seen as a lateral (side-to-side) or rotational deviation of the spine.

  • Lameness or difficulty moving: Cats with scoliosis may have difficulty walking or running or may be hesitant to move due to pain or discomfort.

  • Abnormal gait: Cats with scoliosis may have an abnormal gait or walk with a limp due to the curvature of the spine.

  • Muscle atrophy: Cats with scoliosis may have muscle atrophy, a type of muscle disorder in cats, on one side of their body.

  • Pain or discomfort: Some cats with scoliosis may show signs of pain or discomfort, such as crying or whining or avoiding being touched or petted in certain areas of the body.

  • Changes in behavior: Scoliosis can also cause changes in a cat's behavior, such as irritability, depression, or decreased appetite.

Not all felines will show any symptoms of scoliosis, especially if the curvature is mild.

Treatment Options

The severity of the spinal curvature and the underlying cause of the condition will determine the best course of treatment for scoliosis in cats. Some common treatment options include:

  • Medications: Pain medications, anti-inflammatory drugs, or muscle relaxants may be prescribed to help manage pain and discomfort associated with scoliosis.

  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy can help to improve muscle strength and flexibility, and may be used in conjunction with other treatments.

  • Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to correct the spinal curvature. This can include procedures such as spinal fusion or the placement of spinal rods to stabilize the spine.

  • Weight management: In cases where scoliosis is caused by obesity, maintaining a healthy weight is important to prevent further damage to the spine.

  • Nutrition: In cases where scoliosis is caused by nutritional deficiencies, providing a balanced diet with adequate levels of Vitamin D and Calcium can be beneficial.

  • Supportive devices: In cases where scoliosis has caused a significant loss of muscle mass on one side, a supportive device such as a harness or cart can be used to help the cat move around.

However, some cases of scoliosis require treatment, and in some cases, management of symptoms is the best approach. According to the owner's preferences and the cat's unique demands, the veterinarian will develop a treatment plan.

Also, for best results, ensure you follow the veterinarian's instructions and to monitor the cat's condition closely, as changes in the cat's symptoms or behavior may indicate the need for adjustments to the treatment plan.

Recovery and Management of Feline Scoliosis

The recovery and management of feline scoliosis will depend on the underlying cause of the condition and the treatment options chosen.

If surgery is performed, the recovery period can be several weeks to several months. During this period, the cat should be kept away from intense exercise and may need to wear a protective collar to prevent them from biting or scratching at the surgical site. The cat might also benefit from physical treatment to regain its strength and mobility.

In cases where surgery is not performed, the management of scoliosis will focus on managing symptoms and providing supportive care. This can include providing a comfortable bed, using a supportive device such as a harness or cart, and administering medication as needed to manage pain and discomfort.

Weight management is also a key component of treating feline scoliosis. Keeping cats at a healthy weight can help to prevent further damage to the spine and improve overall mobility.

Nutrition further plays a crucial role in the management of scoliosis. Cats with scoliosis caused by nutritional deficiencies may need a diet that provides adequate levels of Vitamin D and Calcium.

In most cases, with proper management, cats with scoliosis can still lead happy and comfortable lives. It's important for pet owners to be aware of the condition and to provide the necessary care and support for their feline friends.

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