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Bone Fractures in Cats and Kittens

by Colleen Williams

We often think of cats as tiny, graceful predators, delicate and light on their feet, but unfortunately, kitties can get into just as many predicaments as a dog. From a high fall to car accidents, attacks by other animals to carelessness, cats can break bones. PetMD says that the bones most commonly broken (or fractured) are the femur, pelvis, jaw, and tail.

Healthy Paws customer Kaitlyn is familiar with this first hand. About a month ago I finally put my Healthy Paws policy to the test. I came home to find one of our cats, Sarge, had broken his foot,” says pet parent Kaitlyn. “I’m still a bit clueless as to how he did it, but my vet and surgical specialist both recommended corrective surgery.” Kaitlyn received the estimate for the surgery and immediately called Healthy Paws. “I spoke to a very compassionate person who was patient with me while I listed off everything the surgeon was going to charge me for and she confirmed everything would be covered!”

Signs of a Fracture

Trauma on a bone can cause it to crack or fully snap. Age and arthritis have a lot to do with the likelihood of a fracture – simply put, a cat with arthritis might have weaker bones and cannot withstand the same pressure as a full grown youthful cat. The primary signs of a cat with a fracture or broken bone include the following:

  • Traditional signs of pain: crying, howling, or growling, especially if touched
  • Not walking, or not using a limb or tail, limping
  • Not eating or able to use the litter box, neglect of grooming
  • Swelling or bruising at the injured area
  • Protruding bone (compound fracture)

If you think your cat has suffered a fracture, see your vet immediately. Never assume a fracture will heal on its own.

Types of Fractures

There are different types of fractures, depending on how the bone is broken. Each version needs veterinary attention:

  1. Closed: There may be a cracked bone, but the skin is not broken. You will notice swelling, limping or inability to move, and the traditional signs of pain. Keep your cat still and take them to the vet immediately.
  2. Greenstick: The bone is cracked but not completely fractured. There may be swelling and limping; if it’s not set properly, this can result in lameness and reduced mobility of the joint.
  3. Compound: The most dangerous type of fracture, the bone is easily visible through the skin. The cat is at risk for infection and also of going into shock. Bleeding, swelling, and aggressive behavior usually

    Sarge broke his foot and required corrective surgery.

    due to fear and pain are symptoms.

  4. Epiphyseal. These fractures occur most commonly in young kittens, as their bones are still growing. The break happens on the soft area of the bone, or the growth plate. 

Treatment of Fractures

Depending on the location and type of fracture, realignment may be achieved through splints, pins, casts, plates, and/or screws may be used. Surgery is sometimes required for more tricky fractures, and pain medication may be prescribed by your vet. Healthy Paws policy provides coverage for fractures that occur after your pet’s 15 day waiting period, and the claims process is easy! After Sarge’s ordeal, Kaitlyn used the mobile app to upload a photo of the $3,968 invoice and was reimbursed $3,321 about 10 days later. “About a week after the claims were finalized I received an email from Healthy Paws asking how my cat was recovering which I thought was such a wonderful, personal touch.” And we’re happy to report that Sarge has since returned to his playful, mischievous ways, but without any new broken bones!

No matter how much you try to protect your cat, they can still get injured, both indoors and outside. Knowing and recognizing the symptoms of common injuries and illnesses helps to prepare a pet parent, and signing up to protect your pet with pet health insurance is one of the best things you can do (both for your pet and for your wallet!). Start by getting a free quote today.




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