Cats Symptoms Cure
> Cats Muscle and Bone|
|Cats Muscle and Bone (Musculoskeletal System) |
Musculoskeletal problems not related to injury are rare in cats.
Diseases seen frequently in dogs such as hip dysplasia and patellar
luxation (kneecap dislocation), which have a hereditary predisposition, are
almost never seen in cats except for individuals from certain purebred
bloodlines. Therefore you as a cat owner have little in the way of bony or
muscular problems to consider when choosing a cat. Your problems with
musculoskeletal disease will most likely arise following trauma to your
Many musculoskeletal injuries can be difficult to diagnose, even by an
experienced veterinarian. Proper diagnosis often requires the use of ×
rays as well as a thorough physical examination. It may be impossible to
distinguish among fractures, dislocations, and sprains without the aid of ×
rays. In general, however, it should not be too difficult to distinguish the
presence of a fracture or dislocation from the presence of a sprain, strain,
or bruise. Keep in mind that, although musculoskeletal injuries often cause
marked signs, they themselves are not usually emergencies. Review the
musculoskeletal section, then read this section thoroughly and become
familiar with your cat's normal posture and movement in order to prepare
yourself to recognize any injury to your cat's muscles and/or bones.
When actual injury occurs, keep calm and proceed with an examination
in a thorough and deliberate manner. First try to localize the site of the
injury. To accomplish this stand back and look at your cat as a whole. Try
to determine the area (or areas) causing the change in posture or gait. If
legs are involved, which are they? Which seem to hurt, look distorted, or
are being "protected" by the cat? Swelling is often fairly well confined to the
injured area but is sometimes extensive. The posture of an affected leg
may be fairly normal above but not below the affected area. Once you have
a general idea of the location of the problem examine each part of the
limb, including each joint, gently and carefully. All legs should be examined
thoroughly, but you will probably want to go over the most obviously
damaged one first. Review how to perform a leg examination in the
Anatomy section of this book if you feel unsure about it, and remember that
comparing an injured leg to its (probably) uninjured mate can be very
Sprains,Strains and Bruises
Sprains, strains, and bruises (contusions) consist of damage to the
soft tissues surrounding and supporting the bones, usually without loss of
weight-bearing ability. In these injuries swelling and signs of pain are often
quite diffuse, so you may not be able to determine the exact site of injury,
only the general area involved.
A contusion occurs when a blow causes the capillaries (small blood
vessels) in the affected soft tissues to bleed. You may see skin
discoloration, abrasion, or other skin injury at the site of a bruise. However,
cats' fur often obscures the outer signs of injury. Expect a contusion to be
free of significant pain in seven to ten days following injury.
Strains result from unaccustomed or excessive activity that overstresses
the involved muscle, tendon, and/or site of the attachment of the tendon to
the bone. Signs of a strain are often most obvious two or three days after
the actual injury occurs. Strains often take one to three weeks of enforced
rest to heal.
Sprains are ligament injuries that occur when these soft tissues, which
directly surround and stabilize the joints, are stretched (mild or first-degree
sprain), partially torn (moderate or second-degree sprain), or completely
torn apart (severe or third-degree sprain). All sprains heal slowly even if
the signs of pain disappear quickly. Radiographs (X-ray pictures) are often
necessary to diagnose a sprain, as the more severe forms can easily
cause signs of pain, swelling, deformity, and inability to bear weight that
are indistinguishable from signs of a bone fracture. Splinting, casting, or
surgery is sometimes needed to return the affected joint to normal stability.
If your cat has a mild to moderate lameness due to soft tissue injury,
enforced rest is the best treatment, and it should result in rapid
improvement in two to seven days. Confine your cat indoors and, if
necessary, to one room or to a cage to reduce activity. You may be
tempted to give pain relievers such as aspirin to your cat for such injuries.
Avoid doing so. Most such preparations for humans are contraindicated
for cats, and such drugs mask the pain that would encourage your cat to
rest the injured area and that is an important clue for you to use in gauging
the degree of recovery. Consult your veterinarian in more severe cases.
Complete fracture (break) of any of the major limb bones usually
results in the inability to bear weight on the affected limb, as well as some
deformity of the limb. The deformity may consist simply of swelling or may
include angulation (formation of an abnormal angle) usually at the fracture
site, rotation or shortening of the affected limb, or other deviations from the
normal position. The sound and/or feel of bone grating against bone
(crepitus), if present, is almost always indicative of a fracture. Unless
sensory nerves have been damaged or the cat is in deep shock, evidence
of pain can be elicited by manipulating the fracture. Signs of pain,
however, are unreliable, since pain can be present in other conditions as
well; also many sensitive cats overreact to relatively mild pain, and "stoic"
cats may be less likely to react strongly to painful stimuli.
Compound Fractures are Emergencies
A fracture is classified as simple if there is no communicating wound
between the outside of the skin and the broken bone. A compound
fracture communicates to the outside. If your cat has a compound fracture
with bone protruding from a wound, you should have no difficulty
diagnosing the condition. Compound fractures become infected easily and
should be given immediate attention by a veterinarian, if at all possible.
If your cat is in fairly normal general condition, a simple fracture is not
necessarily a veterinary emergency. The best thing to do is to localize the
fracture site, then call your veterinarian for further advice. Fractures of the
foot bones are rarely emergencies and can usually be left unsplinted until
X-ray pictures can be taken. Whether or not you splint other limb fractures
depends on the site of the fracture and the mobility of the bone ends. In
many cases, splinting causes more trouble for you and pain for the cat than
it's worth. In obviously mobile fractures, where you see the leg below the
break dangling freely and twisting, heavy cardboard cut to the appropriate
shape, roll cotton, and elastic bandage can be used to prevent bone
movement, interruption of blood supply, and nerve damage. Wrap padding
(even a diaper can be used) gently and thickly around the injured part.
Then apply the splint and top it with the bandage. Compound fractures
should have a clean bandage applied over the exposed bone ends if
splinting is unnecessary or not possible.
Spinal Fractures are Emergencies
A special case of fracture (or dislocation) is fracture of the spine. This
requires professional veterinary care at the earliest possible time as well
as careful first aid. Spinal fractures usually result in partial or complete
paralysis of the rear legs and sometimes the front legs as well, often with
remarkably little evidence of pain. If your cat shows such signs following
trauma, immediate and absolute (if possible) restriction of movement is
necessary. If you can get the cat to lie quietly, transport in a shallow open
box is best. Do not, however, attempt to hold a frightened and struggling
cat down—you may make the damage worse. Cooperative cats may be
carried in your arms if you are careful to prevent back movement.
The method a veterinarian chooses to repair a fractured bone
depends on the type of fracture present, the fracture site, and the age of
your cat. External devices alone, such as casts and splints, can be used in
some cases. In many others surgery to place a metal pin, plate, or other
internal fixation device into the fractured bone is necessary. A good
veterinarian will x-ray the fracture, evaluate all the possibilities for repair,
and tell you what he or she thinks is necessary to achieve the best healing.
If you cannot afford the best repair, a veterinarian should offer alternative
methods that may not be as ideal for healing but more within your means.
(Keep in mind that the alternatives may mean slower healing or complete
failure to heal.)
Dislocations (luxations) are seen much less frequently than fractures
in most veterinary practices. Dislocations occur whenever a bone is
displaced from its normal position in relation to another bone at a joint.
The signs of dislocation are similar to those of fracture, but are usually
Dislocations are not emergencies in the sense that they endanger a
cat's life or limb. However, they should be examined by a veterinarian
within twenty-four hours of occurrence because they are most easily
corrected without surgery during this period. All suspected dislocations
should have X-ray pictures taken to determine the true extent of bony
damage. General anesthesia is given to relax the muscles and provide
relief from pain while the bones are manipulated back into their proper
positions. Some dislocations require surgery for permanent correction
especially those causing complete disruption of the supporting and
surrounding soft tissues.