As proud pet parents of cats, it is a good thing to learn about all the medical conditions your pet can suffer from. Cats are just as immune to orthopedic conditions as humans are and their hip joints just as vulnerable as ours. In this article, we will share all the information you need regarding hip dysplasia in cats.
What is Hip Dysplasia in Cats?
Cats can often develop a degenerative illness we know as hip dysplasia. It causes immense stiffness and pain because the condition renders the ball-and-socket joint malformed.
As a degenerative disease, the cats suffering it can soon develop osteoarthritis. If you ever observe a normal cat’s hip joint, you will find a femoral head as part of the socket-like structure of the cat. We call this feature the acetabulum and the femoral head is where the hip dysplasia develops.
The presence of joint fluids, muscles and cartilage make the hip joint function smoothly and normally. The problem begins when cats develop hip dysplasia, in which the femoral head develops an abnormal shape and misfits the acetabulum.
Cats with hip dysplasia will thus, have a joint that is unstable, stiff, inflamed and painful.
Signs of Hip Dysplasia in Cats
Many believe that hips dysplasia is more common in dogs than cats and even if it does prevail, it is mostly in the purebred cats. The fact is that cats are very good at masking their pain and illness so often pet owners miss the signs of hip dysplasia even when their cats have it.
If you want to ascertain whether or not your beloved cat’s hip joint is functioning smoothly, you can look for these signs:
- Your cat faces difficulty when moving or getting up
- Your cat has a limp in its gait
- Your cat chews and licks the supposedly affected area too frequently
- Your cat is not very active physically and is always unwilling to exercise
- Your cat starts resistance the litter box
- Your cat refrains from running, climbing stairs or jumping
- The hind legs of cats with hip dysplasia often have a narrower stance
- Your cat’s thigh muscles lose significant muscle mass
- Its hip joint has a reduced range of motion
It is likely that a cat with hip dysplasia in the early stages will attempt to hide the signs, as is characteristic of their nature. This is why you must have regular checkups of your cats and if you suspect a malfunctioning hip joints, x-rays or even a competent vet will be able to verify accurately.
Most importantly though, the range of motion in cats can be the best telltale sign of hip dysplasia.
Causes of Hip Dysplasia in Cats
Medical research has not yet determined a particular cause of feline hip dysplasia. Experts still claim that it is a hereditary disease and genetic components play a large part in causing certain cats to develop this condition. However, certain genetic and environmental factors may play a part in instigating hip dysplasia in cats.
- Cats can be genetically susceptible to hip laxity or looseness
- Pelvic-muscle mass
- Nutritional level
- Gaining weight rapidly
While science does not name any condition as the definitive cause of hip dysplasia, it does however discuss causative roles of several factors. Obesity for example, can rend a cat’s hip joint incapable of normal and optimal functioning.
The theory is that obesity may exert extensive pressure on the ball and socket hip joint and cause wear and tear on the supportive structure. Secondly, there is some literature on the analysis that hip dysplasia is most common among the pure breeds, such as Maine Coons. This analysis too gives weight to the theory that hip dysplasia is more genetic than anything else in cats.
Breeds Prone to Hip Dysplasia
Like we mentioned above, the scientific stance regarding hip dysplasia is that the condition is more common in certain pure breeds. Research tells us that chances of hip dysplasia in short-hair domestic cat breeds stands a little more than 5%, but other purebred cats stands a 20% chance or even higher.
The purebreds with the highest susceptibility chances for hip dysplasia are the Himalayan, Persian or Maine Coon breeds. If you own any of these breeds, you must be extra vigilant for signs of hip dysplasia in them and running x-rays in time or regular checkups with its vet are the best approach.
Diagnosing Hip Dysplasia in Cats
If you note any signs that indicate your cat’s hip is acting up, you must not waste time in setting up an appointment with the vet. Take any signs of pain and lameness very seriously because it could be indicative.
Your next responsibility is to provide a detailed medical history of the cat to the vet, including the signs and symptoms you have noted. If possible, try to provide your cat’s parental information to further help the vet with its diagnosis.
With all relevant information in hand, the vet will run a detailed examination, including hip examination, muscle loss verification and x-rays. In the physical exam, the vet may have to manipulate your pet’s affected area to observe its range of motion, joint grating and signs of hip looseness.
X-rays usually provide a definitive diagnosis, as the images can confirm shallowness in the hip socket and joint degeneration.
Holistic Treatment Options for Hip Dysplasia in Cats
After the vet has confirmed your cat’s hip joints status through examination and radiography, he/she will next determine the best treatment approach.
There can be two ways of approaching treatment, either holistically or surgically. The best approach depends on the symptoms the cats exhibit when suffering this condition or the severity of the radiography.
Let’s look at some of the holistic treatment options below:
The root of the problem lies in the bony or skeleton tissue but your vet prescribe some natural supplements to promote healthy connective tissues. Supplements can be supportive in promoting joint or bone health and may also promote a healthier anti inflammatory response in the felines.
Some examples of natural supplements include:
- Vitamins E and C
- Chondroitin, Glucosamine and MSM
- Herbal remedies
If your cat is suffering from hip joint issues, CBD can help support joint mobility and flexibility. CBD can help with occasional discomfort and may help support a healthier inflammatory response in cats.
Perhaps the cannabinoid receptors in CBD can help maintain a normal inflammatory response in the body and provide connective tissue support. However, before you use this holistic treatment option for your cat, it is best to seek approval from the vet first.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Feeding your cat a diet that contains sufficient amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly the long-chain polyunsaturated variety can help support a non inflammatory response in their bodies.
Wight management can be a key solution in helping relieve your coat of the joint problems. When your cat gains excessive weight, it can place extensive strain on its hip joint.
To prevent the hip problem from developing into debilitating one for your feline friend, you must control its weight through diet and exercise as per your vet’s recommendations.
Let’s take a look at the surgical treatment options if your cat is suffering from an incidence of hip.
Femoral Head and Neck Excision
The femoral head and neck excision surgical option has been quite a reliable one for smaller cats since years now. In this, the medical experts form a false fibrous joint in your cat’s muscle tissues.
This new joint prevents the ball and socket from grinding together while the surgery eliminates the the femur’s head and neck. When veterinary medicine has failed to cure, this surgical treatment provides your cat’s hip to a pain-free return of normal functioning.
Along with being an affordable option, this surgery has lower chances of complication.
Total Hip Replacement
A total hip replacement is another successful treatment option for felines when veterinary medicine cannot cure their hip problem. In this method, the medical experts remove the degenerating ball and socket and replace them with artificial components.
The treatment aims to provide relief and restore the quality of your pet’s life.
Triple Pelvice Osteotomy or TPO surgery is a treatment method for moderate to large breed cats with hip dysplasia. The surgery aims to eliminate the coxofemoral joint laxity and instead promote hip congruity and normalized stresses of the joint.
The TPO surgery involves making cuts in the pelvis bone and rotating teh acetabulum over the ball. The process than uses a bone plate to stabilize the problematic bones and restore hip function.
Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis (JPS)
JPS is a treatment process that induces closure of your cat’s growth plate, on its pelvic floor. This treatment option increases coverage of the femoral head and decreases laxity and pain while osteoarthritis in a cat.
Hip Dysplasia Therapy Options
The therapeutic options for treating hip dysplasia in your cat includes:
Therapy is another potential option for relieving your cat from hip pain. Physical therapists will your pet run jump, swim in a pool, use the treadmill underwater or above ground, following stretching exercises and receive massages and other motion-improving therapies.
You can also work alongside the therapist so that you’d be able to give your pet the physical therapy it needs for relieving the pain at home.
In this process, your cat receives needle insertions in its acupuncture points that promote the release of its own anti inflammatory and pain-relieving hormones. Other therapy options for stimulating the acupuncture points of your cat include injection of liquids, electrostimulation, moxibustion and manual pressure.
Preventing Hip Dysplasia in Cats
In most cases, one cannot necessarily prevent or stop hip dysplasia from developing their pet altogether. We are yet to see any tried-tested ways from making that happen. Instead, what you can do is to keep a vigilant eye for telltale signs that would help you catch the disease right at the start and slow its progression.
At the first sign of stiffness pain of lameness in your pet, you must contact the vet right away. Some other things you can do to protect your feline pet from this disease include:
- Limit your kittens from jumping till they’ve grown fully.
- Maintain a moderate exercising regime from early on to keep your pet’s muscles strong.
- Keep your pet’s weight in control so that it remains healthy but not obese. If need be, put it on a weight loss diet.
- Make regular vet-visits to keep an active check on your pet’s joint health.
- Spay or neuter a cat with hip dysplasia so that it does not breed.
Our Final Thoughts
Hip dysplasia is mostly a genetic condition but environmental factors may have an impact too. A thoroughly physical examination by the vet and radiography can ascertain if your feline animal has a problematic hip or not.
Depending on the severity of your pet’s case, the vet may use a holistic treatment approach or if that is not enough, then a surgical option to cure the disease.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a cat live with hip dysplasia?
If you leave your cat’s hip dysplasia untreated, it will cause pain, stiffness and decreased function. You may eventually have to opt for a surgery to restore your cat to normal life.
Is hip dysplasia in cats painful?
Joint laxity and arthritis development is a painful condition for cats.
How is hip dysplasia treated in cats?
A combination of non-surgical treatment options can cure a cat from hip dysplasia. If a cat does not respond to these, then surgical options will be the alternative.
What happens if hip dysplasia is left untreated?
It will reduce range of motion, increase pain and result in arthritis development.