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Common Feline Musculoskeletal Disorders

Musculoskeletal disorders in cats can be broken down into three distinct categories: bones, joints and muscles. A cat’s ability to see, breathe, urinate and eat all rely on the muscles, joints and bones in their body. This is why musculoskeletal disorders can be so detrimental to a cat’s quality of life.

In this article, we’re exploring the most common feline musculoskeletal disorders so pet owners know what they should be aware of.

Bone Disorders in Cats

Developmental bone disorders appear in kittens when the bones haven’t grown correctly – these may be present at birth or only noticeable as the cat grows. The main causes of bone disorders are genetics and dietary imbalances.

Common bone disorders include:

  • Osteochondromatosis (multiple exostoses) – multiple bony growths that arise from the surface of the long bones, vertebrae and ribs. These can be surgically removed.
  • Scottish Fold Osteodystrophy – the Scottish Fold breed is prone to deformities of the spine and paws due to the development of growth. These are surgically removed.
  • Osteomyelitis – inflammation of the bone caused by a bacterial infection that spreads to the bloodstream. Treatment is with antibiotics and flushing the wound.
  • Nutritional osteopathy – reduced bone mass, deformities, growths, fractures and loose teeth caused by a nutritional imbalance or disturbance. These are treated by reversing the cause.

Joint Disorders in Cats

Moveable joints are subject to diseases and disorders that affect their membranes, ligaments, cartilage and bone. These disorders may be present at birth or caused by a range of environmental factors.

Common joint disorders include:

  • Patellar luxation (kneecap displacement) – this is a hereditary disorder in which the kneecap forms incorrectly. This is treated surgically, depending on the severity of the condition.
  • Hip Dysplasia – the abnormal development of hip joints, typically leading to a loose hip joint that is prone to arthritis. Lifestyle changes and weight management can assist in most cases.
  • Osteoarthritis – the joint cartilage degenerates over time, leading to a loss of movement and increased pain. This is a serious, irreversible condition that requires immediate and ongoing treatment.

Muscle Disorders in Cats

Myopathies are disorders that primarily impact a cat’s muscle membranes or fibres. These may be already present at birth or they can be caused by sudden muscle injuries, nutritional imbalances, ingesting poison, cancer, inflammation and metabolic disturbances.

Myositides are diseases that create an inflammatory reaction in the muscles. These are commonly caused by infections, parasitic diseases and immunity conditions.

Common muscle disorders include:

  • Yellow fat disease (steatitis) – inflammation of the fatty tissue due to an excess of unsaturated fatty acids and a deficit of vitamin E in the cat’s food. This is treated with pain medication, nutritional changes and dietary supplements.
  • Hypokalemic polymyopathy – a muscle weakness disorder caused by potassium deficiency. This is easily treated with supplements if the problem is diagnosed quickly.
  • Muscle tumours – either benign or cancerous muscle tumours that spread and invade nearby muscle. These may be treated with surgery, amputation, chemotherapy and radiation.

Protect Your Cat with Immediate Treatment

To avoid musculoskeletal disorders from forming in your cat’s body, ensure you maintain a regular schedule of check-ups with your vet. Bring your cat to the team at Kirrawee Veterinary Hospital for fast diagnoses and expert treatments. Make an appointment by calling (02) 9521 6422 or contacting us online.


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