Perhaps your older cat has developed a serious hitch in his get-along, his hips no longer allowing him to jump or move without pain. Maybe he suffers from a congenital deformity, or has managed to get himself hurt in some distinctly feline fashion. Hip replacement can get him going again.
Hip dysplasia, or malformation of the hip joint, is the primary reason a cat might be a candidate for hip replacement surgery. While this congenital deformity occurs fairly rarely in felines, it's more common in large-boned cats, especially the Maine coon. According to the website PetMD, approximately 18 percent of Maine coon cats suffer from hip dysplasia. Before resorting to surgery, your vet might put an overweight cat on a diet to ease strain on the joints, or prescribe pain medication. If this doesn't work, she might suggest a hip replacement operation.
Femoral Head Ostectomy
Before the advent of total hip replacement for cats, vets might have performed a femoral head ostectomy on affected animals. It's still a common treatment for feline hip issues, generally less expensive than hip replacement. This procedure removes the femoral head and neck. According to the Texas-based Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists, clinical results of FHO in felines appear "unpredictable," because femur displacement causes leg shortening. That means cats don't move normally. In addition, muscle atrophy is common and the surgery might not provide complete pain relief.
Micro Hip Replacement
Micro total hip replacement, developed for small dogs and felines, involves removing the hip joint and replacing it with a prosthetic hip. Originally used in larger canines, instruments and implants for cats and little dogs has been available since 2005. Cats weighing between 5 and 26 pounds can receive micro total hip replacement, which includes all but the very smallest and largest domestic felines.
Cats recuperating from hip replacement surgery must stay confined in a small space for four to six weeks. Once the cat is healed, he should be able to resume his normal activities, whether that's running up and down the stairs, jumping on the furniture or leaping onto his favorite windowsill for bird watching. According to DVM 360, the prognosis for a pain-free, long-term recovery is better for cats undergoing micro hip replacement than other treatments.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.