If your cat fractured a bone, she may or may not be forthcoming about it. There’s a good chance she’ll remain stoic and calm, even if she’s in significant pain. Knowing how to spot the signs of a fractured or broken bone in your cat can make her ultimate outcome far more successful.
The Symptoms of Broken Bones in Cats
Just like in people, every feline fracture will present differently. Compound fractures will be obvious and graphic, with the bone clearly visible underneath or through the skin. Hairline fractures might produce pain, but they also might not feel like much at all.
Here’s what to look for if you suspect your cat may have broken a bone:
Hiding or Aversion
A cat in pain may attempt to hide from or avoid you. It’s a protective impulse, and she’s especially likely to hide herself after breaking a bone if she also does so when she’s sick.
Likewise, a cat in pain may actively become aggressive if you try to touch her when she’s in pain. This is a particularly strong warning sign if aggressive behavior is unusual for your cat.
A cat with a broken bone might become far less active. She might start sleeping more than usual, or maybe just stop jumping up on the couch. She’s also highly likely to stop grooming herself as effectively as she used to.
Limping is a surefire sign something is wrong. If your cat has broken one of her legs, she’ll probably try not to bear weight on it to avoid pain. The longer the limping lasts, the more likely a fracture.
Not all broken bones are obvious, but some are noticeable. If your cat has an unusual protrusion, lump, or swelling somewhere on her body, particularly her legs, she should be examined by a veterinarian.
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What to do if You Suspect a Fracture
If you witnessed an event that leads you to believe your cat may have a fracture or other serious injuries – a high fall, being struck by a car, etc. – rush her to the closest emergency veterinary clinic. If she’s in visible pain or shock, wrap her in a clean blanket or towel to keep her as still and calm as possible; be aware your cat may bite, hiss, or claw at you in this situation.
If you didn’t see your cat injure herself but she’s showing one of the common signs of a bone fracture, she should still be examined by your regular veterinarian as soon as possible. Do your best to keep her from moving around too much in the meantime which could complicate the injury.
Healing Your Cat’s Fracture
Feline bone fractures are only definitively diagnosed via x-ray. That being said, many vets will treat suspected minor fractures the same way they would treat a sprain or ligament tear. In some cases, the injury can be treated with a splint or cast and plenty of monitored physical rest.
Serious cat bone fractures may require more significant treatment. In some cases, surgery is required to reset the bone or even to put in pins or screws. In the most severe instances, especially those involving the tail, amputation may even be required.
No matter how severe your cat’s fracture, your vet will probably recommend a prolonged period of inactivity and the use of pain medication for your cat.