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FHO Surgery in Cats

Many orthopedic issues in cats can be permanently treated using various procedures. These aim to restore the mobility of your feline friend. Here, our vets at Marcello Veterinary Hospital discuss the causes and symptoms of hip and joint issues in cats and what you can expect when FHO surgery is used to treat them.

How does the joint in your cat's hip work?

A hip works much like a ball and socket. The ball sits on the end of the thigh bone, or femur, and fits inside the hip bone's acetabulum (the socket). When the hip joint works properly, your cat can move around without pain and with a wide range of motion.

However, if disease or injury disrupts this normal function, it can cause pain and limit your cat's mobility. Bone grinding can lead to inflammation, worsening the problem.

FHO surgery is a common recommendation for cats with disrupted hip function, especially active and fit cats. The muscle mass around their joints can speed up their recovery. However, any cat in good health can have FHO surgery to alleviate hip pain.

Types of Hip Issues in Cats

Hip issues in cats can be caused by things like old age, injury, and genetic predisposition. Femoral head ostectomy (FHO) surgery can be used to treat any of the following:

  • Hip fractures that your vet isn't able to surgically repair, either because of your cat's health or the price of the operation.
  • Hip luxation or dislocation, often associated with serious dysplasia, is commonly treated with FHO surgery. 
  • Legg-Perthes disease is a condition that affects your cat's hips. This disease is characterized by a lack of blood flow to your cat's femur and causes the part of the bone that connects with their hope to decay spontaneously, resulting in arthritis or hip damage.

Orthopedic surgery may be recommended to correct mobility issues and cat pain caused by relatively common conditions.

What are the signs of hip pain in cats?

Cats experiencing hip issues may display the following symptoms:

  • Irritability
  • Difficulty jumping
  • Limping when walking
  • Muscle loss around their back limbs
  • Increased stiffness and reduced range of motion

What happens during your cat's FHO surgery?

During FHO surgery on cats, the veterinarians will remove the femoral head, resulting in an empty hip socket. However, your cat's leg muscles will hold the femur in place initially, and eventually, scar tissue will develop between the acetabulum and the femur. This will lead to the formation of a 'false joint' over time, and the scar tissue will act as a cushion between their bones.

What is the cost of FHO surgery for cats?

Compared to other treatment options, FHO surgery is a relatively low-cost option that can often help your cat regain pain-free mobility. If FHO surgery is scheduled for your cat, the cost will vary depending on different factors, so it's best to consult your veterinarian for an estimate.

How Will Your Cat Recover from FHO Surgery

Every cat is different. After their surgery, they may need to stay at the hospital for an amount of time, from a few hours to a few days, for monitoring and post-surgical care. The length of your kitty's story will depend on their health as well as a number of other factors. You will need to keep an eye on your cat after FHO surgery, just as you would any other procedure.

Phase 1 of Recovery After FHO Surgery

In the immediate days after the surgery, you and your veterinarian will focus on managing pain with prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications.

Your cat will require restricted activity either by being crated or confined to a small room where they cannot jump or run.

If your pet is not experiencing excessive pain, your vet may suggest passive range-of-motion exercises to facilitate your cat's hip joint's return to its natural range of motion.

Phase 2 of Recovery After FHO Surgery

The second phase of recovery begins after about one week of surgery. During this phase, your cat's physical activity is gradually increased to strengthen its joints.

This helps prevent stiff scar tissue formation and improves the cat's long-term mobility. Your vet will provide you with instructions on appropriate exercises for your cat. Most cats recover fully within six weeks after the surgery.

However, if your cat has not fully recovered after this time, they may need physical therapy or rehabilitation to ensure complete recovery.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your cat having trouble getting around? Are they showing signs of pain? Contact our vets at Marcello Veterinary Hospital today to book an examination.

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