Cat Broken Bones
Veterinarian Reviewed on June 17, 2010 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
Cat Broken Bones
Cats can suffer broken bones when the skeletal system undergoes abnormal stress, usually due to an automobile accident, fall or other high-impact trauma. Broken bones or fractures as they are more likely to be called, cause a crack or break to occur within the bone. The pelvis, tailbone and jawline are among the bones cats are most likely to fracture, causing the cat to suffer from Cat Back Pain amongst other types of pain. Depending on the location of the fracture, cats may display different symptoms and require more immediate emergency care.
Understanding Fracture Types
There are usually four types of fractures that cats usually suffer from. One of the broadest classifications is that of a simple fracture, one where the skin does not break, and the bone is only broken in 2 or 3 pieces. In a compound fracture, the skin is also wounded and the bone may protrude through to the outside. These types of fractures can be more dangerous for cats since the open wound brings in a risk of infection. In a complicated fracture, the surrounding blood vessels and nerves are injured. In young cats, under one year of age, epiphyseal fractures commonly occur. These fractures take place in the growth plates; soft areas found on the end of long bones like the femur that are weaker than the surrounding bone.
Signs and Symptoms
When a bone is fractured, cats will display symptoms; however these symptoms may not immediately reveal that a cat is suffering from a fracture. The symptoms displayed will also depend on the bone that has been fractured. For example, a cat that has fractured a bone in his foot or leg may hold that leg up from the ground and walk without placing any weight on the injured limb. Because the bones of cats are so small, owners should never try to splint the bone themselves. Instead, gently transport the cat to the veterinarian, taking care to minimize movement. Wrapping the cat in a towel or blanket can help avoid jostling the injured bone. If there are any exposed wounds, they can be covered with sterile dressing. Do to the pain, the cat is likely to be experiencing, he may attempt to bite or scratch.
Treatment for Fractures
All fractures are serious injuries that require immediate treatment from a veterinarian; however, urgent medical surgery is not usually the reason. Severe blood loss from the injury can cause shock. Cats will also need to be checked for neurological problems and internal organ injury. To diagnose a fractured bone the veterinarian will take X-rays of the area and conduct a physical exam. Before setting the fracture, the veterinarian will use anesthesia to numb the pain. Pins and wires or metallic plates and screws may be used to immobilize the fracture. Splints and casts might be used for injuries below the joint. More severe fractures may require additional surgeries. For instance, a surgery to realign the teeth is likely to be needed for a jaw fracture.
Accidents are sometimes unavoidable but there are steps cat owners can take to reduce the likelihood of suffering a fracture. Check the home and remove any potential sources of accidents, keeping a close eye on cats when outside may also help prevent fractures caused by automobile accidents or fights with other animals. Consulting with a veterinarian on appropriate vitamin and mineral supplements to take can help to prevent broken bones caused by a lack of calcium in the diet. Regular veterinary checkups can also ensure cats receive proper treatment for old age diseases that increase the fragility of bones.
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan