Although Kitty Kat does not have a conventional home, he enjoys the finer things in life having a warm comfortable bed on top of a straw bale which offers a great view of all the comings and goings at the stables and also makes a fantastic hunting platform from which to spot mice which he picks off with spectacular ease.
One Saturday morning, he was not on his usual throne in the morning as the horse owners arrived, and the alarm was immediately raised.
Kitty Kat was found, tucked behind his favourite bale looking very sorry for himself.
Twenty minutes later, he was in my consulting room looking cross and scared. I carefully lifted him out of his basket and he hissed angrily at me then crouched on my consulting table with his chin resting on his forelegs.
As the history of his condition was a little sketchy, I started to examine him. Obviously, our patients do not give an accurate account of their symptoms and so a bit of detective work was required. Kitty Kat’s face slowly turned from angry to furious as I worked symptomatically from front to back trying to find a clue as to the problem.
As I felt over his pelvis, I thought I felt a clunk and Kitty Kat voiced his displeasure. A lot of cats refuse to move when they come into the consulting room so I could not tell if he was lame or not but I felt fairly sure that I had found the problem.
Kitty Kat was admitted and X rayed under general anaesthetic. The X ray revealed a break at the very top of the femur (the thigh bone), just below the hip joint. We call the hip joint a “ball and socket” joint and effectively the ball had broken off the shaft of bone. Instead of the ball moving within the socket, the shaft of the thigh bone was now moving against the ball and this was very painful. We don’t know how Kitty Kat had sustained the injury but we suspect that he may have fallen from his usual vantage point on the straw bale.
I got straight on the phone to his owners. The ball and socket joint in cats is very tiny and there is not sufficient bone to be able to pin or screw the fracture back together. The only option is to remove the ball in its entirety. This will eliminate the bone to bone contact at the fracture site and give immediate pain relief. Because cats are light, the muscles will tighten up and form a false joint and they will usually make an excellent recovery.
With the owner’s consent, we operated and the following day, Kitty Kat was discharged. He will need cage rest for a couple of weeks to allow the muscles to heal so the mice have a couple of weeks to relax until he returns to his sentry duty.