Brain and Spinal Cord Inflammation (Polioencephalomyelitis) in Cats

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Polioencephalomyelitis in Cats

Polioencephalomyelitis is a non-suppurative meningoencephalomyelitis(non-draining inflammation of the gray matter of the brain and spinal cord). This condition causes nerve degeneration, and demyelination (degeneration of the sheath surrounding the nerve) of the neurons in the thoracic spinal cord (upper back). Lesions can also be seen in the cervical spinal cord (neck), lumbar spinal cord (lower back), brainstem (base of the brain), and the cerebrum (the largest part of the brain).

Symptoms and Types

  • Ataxia: chronic, progressive incoordination of the hind limbs, or of all four limbs
  • Paraparesis: weakness in the lower body
  • Seizures
  • Head tremors


Polioencephalomyelitis is a viral infection, most likely spread through mucus from the nose and mouth. It is suspected to be caused by the Borna virus, an infection of the brain tissue that affects several mammalian populations, but this is unproven. The cause of this disease has a long documented history, but its origin is generally unknown.


Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam on your cat, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, a urinalysis, and an electrolyte panel to rule out or confirm other diseases. The doctor may also take a sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) for laboratory cellular analysis.

You will need to provide a thorough history of your pet's health leading up to the onset of symptoms.

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Something in which pus is discharged or formed


Pertaining to the chest


An in-depth examination of the properties of urine; used to determine the presence or absence of illness


The prediction of a disease’s outcome in advance


A bundle of fibers that are used in the process of sending impulses through the body


The part of the back between the pelvis and the thorax


A type of slime that is made up of certain salts, cells, or leukocytes


When myelin is lost or destroyed

Courtesy of Original Article