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kitty broken leg, what to do?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
My kitty tigger is a hunter. He always enjoys outdoors and usually comes back happy. About a month ago, he came back with a limp - on closer look one of the paw was black and blue. He was sensitive to touch around the leg in general. But the vet said it looks like just the toe after examiniation (no xray was deemed necessary at the time). After some anti-inflamatory, tigger got much better in a week or so and started to rush out of the door again.

But the week later when I came home I noticed his limp was worse (that's about right before thanksgiving), I callled the vet - we thought we would observe tigger with more anti-inflamatory. Tigger doesn't seem to be in as much as pain as the first time and did get better. But the limp and lameness on the back side persists longer than the first time. So long story short, I decided to bring him back to the vet for an x-ray.

X-ray showed a fracture below hind leg join socket. Vet proposed two options:
1) pining the bone with the ball area (that still in the socket). but this option could cause complication given tigger is very very active even with a broken leg.
2) remove the ball section, clean up the fractured end, and let muscule form a "false" joint.

I need some help understanding the pro and con with these options from people's experience. #2) sounds like the preferred option but sounds scary to me - how is that better than just keep tigger alone not doing anything?

post #2 of 8
I had a kitty once who broke both hips like that. At the same time. He had the surgery to remove the balls. My vet explained that the blood circulation to the ball of the femur in the cat is compromised when it is fractured and it just won't heal. Sammy was a sad, sad, boy after his surgery but even with it on both sides he was using a litterbox in two days and he came home in three. He also had a tummy surgery because he was injured there, too. He was just able to stand when he came home and I had to put him in the litter box. Poor boy, that was before vets gave pain medicine. But little Sammy recovered completely. Even with both sides done he was able to jump as high as the dishwasher top after about six months. I bet your kitty will do just fine, because, unlike Sammy, he will be able to bear his weight on his good side and probably won't even need to stay in the hospital very long. Sammy looked like he had taken his pants off, since they shaved him all around from his waist to his ankles and just his feet and tail and upper body had their long hair still. But, remember, he had both hips and his tummy done. He took out his own stitches after a few days, not a good idea, so maybe an elizabethan collar would be a good idea. Sammy learned so well about removing stitches that when I had another kitty get spayed later that year, he kindly removed her stitches, too. I had to put a sock on her to protect her from his help. He didn't pull them out intact, he carefully tugged at the knots until he got them untied! I miss that Sammy boy. When they xrayed him for his hips they also discovered he had tiny kidneys and he died of kidney failure a couple of years later. What a boy. Thanks for the memories. Becky
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
thanks becky! It's comforting to know that the kitty can recover well from such an invasive surgery. Sounds like Sammy is quite a character just like my tigger. Tigger reminds me of the state slogan of NH - live free or die. I am trying to confine him to a single room so that he doesn't put too much stress on the bad leg while we are figuring out what to do next - boy was he mad.

I still wonder though - if it will be best for tigger if we let it heal naturally - he may have a slight limp for the rest of his life in that case, but I wonder if it's worth avoiding the pain and possible complications of the surgery. Any opinions?
post #4 of 8
With Tazzy they told us that they couldn't pin the leg, they would have to plate the bone. The operation was going to be thousands of dollars, and with the nerve damage already there, we were told the best thing to do would be to amputate the leg. So we had the leg taken off, and 24 hours later she was hopping around the house as if nothing was wrong.

She had fractured her leg above the scapula in a place where a break never really occurs, so that is why we went with the extremeness of the amputation.

Another cat I had given to me Black Bart was run over intentionally by his butthead owner and left in the garage to heal himself He had a fractured pelvis and they ended up rebreaking both his legs and setting his joints back in place. He was in confinement a really long time healing, but he is doing well today in his new adoptive home.

You have to listen to what the vets say, even getting a second opinion and go from there.
Best of luck!
post #5 of 8
When my oldest cat had been hit by a car he broke his left femur at two places: by the hip and by the knee. The vet basically gave me the same options as your vet have given you: pin the leg or leave it and let it heal by itself. The second option would probably give him a slightly shorter leg and an small limp for the rest of his life. I picked surgery. He was about 1 year old and a very active cat but his leg healed very fast. Today he's 10 years old and you can't tell he was ever injured.

However, I do know about a few cats who have had their broken legs just heal by themselves and they do fine to. It's not until they get old you can see they have some problems with the old injury.

A broken leg is no match for a cat. They have quite a quite amazing healing ability. Whatever you choose, I'm sure your baby will be just fine
post #6 of 8
My understanding is that the circulation to the head of the femur (the ball on the end of the hip bone) is disrupted when a fracture occurs there, so that it will not heal. If this fracture happened a month ago, significant healing should already have occurred. Becky
post #7 of 8
My Silver was also deliberately run over by a 'sick' driver when he was about 1 1/2 years old who went right up onto the sidewalk to make sure he hit him! (I am still fuming!) Silver ended up with a broken pelvis, a broken jaw, and two fractured femurs.

The vet pinned both femurs and wired the jaw, but there wasn't anything to do for a broken pelvis except give it time. He had to be confined to a cage at home while he recovered as the vet didn't want him trying to do more than he should before he was far enough healed. I used one of the 2' x 3' dog cages and set it up in the spare room. For the first week to 10 days he couldn't really move at all. I had to shift his position from side to side on a regular schedule and I had to hold him in position so he could use the litter box as he couldn't stand or support his own weight. He was alert, however, and we developed a way of communications that he could tell me what he needed when he needed it. He was 6 weeks confined to the cage until the pins were removed and then spent a number of weeks after that confined to the bedroom itself where he wouldn't have to deal with stairs or anything up high as he learned how to walk and run again and get back his muscles. He made a full recovery but even with the surgery he still had a slight limp. It didn't seem to bother him, however, and he was as active as ever once he was healed. The one lasting side-effect was that across the hips and to the top of the femurs where they had operated his coat never grew back in his silver tabby stripes - it came in as a pure white blanket of several inches long and about an inch wide. He eventually died of complications from diabetes at 12 years old.
post #8 of 8
Letting the bone "heal" naturally doesn't work all that well in this case. The break is at a joint and the two ends of bone are going to be constantly rubbing against each other. Not only will this be painful but he may always suffer chronic pain and will almost definitely develop arthritis later on.
I would go for surgery, (either one), as it will give the best chance of a full recovery.
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