A closer look: Hip Dysplasia in Cats
Hip dysplasia is uncommon in cats, but is more prevalent in purebred cats. Dysplasia is a chronic, degenerative condition that gradually worsens over time, and may lead to arthritis if left unaddressed. Any pet presenting with symptoms requires prompt veterinary assistance.
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Symptom severity varies, depending on how loose an affected hip joint is, and the degree of osteoarthritis that has developed. Dysplasia may show no symptoms at first, with symptoms developing over time as an affected joint degenerates further.
A looser joint leads to earlier and more severe arthritic changes.
Hip dysplasia is uncommon in cats, but it has higher rates of occurrence in purebred cats
Since hip dysplasia is rarer in cats than dogs, there is less information available on causal factors. Some cat breeds present with dysplasia more than others, which suggests a genetic predisposition. Obesity may also be a factor.
Dysplasia occurs when a cat’s hip joint develops improperly, resulting in a leg bone (femur) that sits loosely in its socket. Over time, the movement of the femur during a cat’s regular motion gradually wears away the bone and cartilage within the joint. The body responds to the joint damage by depositing new bone to try and stabilize the joint, resulting in osteoarthritis.
Symptoms usually develop gradually.
Testing and diagnosis
After performing a physical examination, dysplasia is diagnosed by X-rays of the hip joints.
Steps to Recovery
Hip dysplasia is not curable, and continues to progress over time. Through management, the onset of osteoarthritis can be slowed, and the pain associated with arthritis can be reduced. Mild dysplasia is managed through:
- Weight management
- Ensuring the cat’s environment is easily accessible
- Exercise restriction
In addition to management strategies, medications may help with symptom relief, including
- Veterinary recommended nutriceuticals to support joint health
More severe dysplasia requires surgical intervention to stabilize or replace the hip joint. Most cats do not require surgical repair of the joint.
Dysplasia is a lifelong condition, although symptomatic management is often sufficient to maintain a good quality of life.
Prognosis for cases requiring surgical intervention is good, particularly when surgery is performed prior to developing significant arthritis. Most cats have an excellent quality of life following surgery and minimal long-term effects.
Selective breeding may prevent subsequent generations from developing hip dysplasia. Early detection affords the best chances of avoiding severe dysplasia which requires surgery. Dysplasia is not contagious.
Is Hip Dysplasia in Cats common?
Hip dysplasia is uncommon in cats.
- Weight management
- Exercise management
- Environmental modification
- Medication, such as painkillers