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What are Angular Limb Deformities?

Angular limb deformities is the term used to describe deviation in bone shape from what is considered to be normal. Angular limb deformities in cats can be either congenital or developmental. Congenital deformities are present at the time of birth, whereas developmental deformities develop during the feline’s growth period between four to eight months of age. Angular limb deformities are a result of irregularities of the growth plates responsible for bone growth as the feline matures. The growth plates are soft and do not fuse until one year of age, therefore, trauma or nutritional experiences before the feline reaches one year will result in angular limb deformities. 

Angular limb deformity in cats is an abnormal bone growth that has resulted in irregularly shaped or crooked limbs. Angular limb deformities can be present at the time of birth or develop during the cat’s growth period. The forelimbs are the most common area to be affected by angular limb deformities, as they are made up of two long bones, but the rear limbs can also be affected. Cat owners will note a prevalent bowing of the legs, either inward our outward. Some felines with angular limb deformities will not experience complications, whereas others experience clinical signs of limping, pain, and the inability to complete certain tasks. 

Angular Limb Deformities Average Cost

From 415 quotes ranging from $500 - $5,000

Average Cost

$1,000

Symptoms of Angular Limb Deformities in Cats

Clinical signs of angular limb deformities in cats are noted by the presence of the bones of the limbs bowing away or toward the feline’s midline. Commonly affecting the ulna and radius, pet owners will observe this irregularity from the front of the feline, as her standing stance will seem abnormal. Some felines may not experience discomfort from the present deformity, whereas others may experience pain and limited mobility. On a radiograph, the presence of a bone deformity will be visible, but pet owners may notice symptoms including: 

  • Pain
  • Reduced range of motion in joints
  • Limping 
  • Inability to perform certain activities (jumping, running) 
  • Arthritis (later in life) 

Types

Congenital 

Congenital angular limb deformities in cats are present at the time of birth and are often the result of a genetic disorder. 

Developmental 

Developmental angular limb deformities in cats occur during the feline’s growth period (4-8 months) as a result of trauma to the growth plates. 

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Causes of Angular Limb Deformities in Cats

Angular limb deformities in cats have numerous causes, with the most common causes being trauma or a genetic disorder. 

Traumatic causes of angular limb deformities in cats include:

  • Falls
  • Hit-by-car
  • Being dropped 
  • Being stepped on 

Congenital causes of angular limb deformities in cats include:

  • Hereditary malformation 
  • Genetic disorder 
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Diagnosis of Angular Limb Deformities in Cats

Angular limb deformities in cats affect a feline at an early age and a medical record may not yet be established to review as part of the diagnostic procedure. However, cat owners can aid the veterinarian by providing vital information that is relevant to the feline’s condition. Informing the doctor of past trauma the young cat has sustained or familial disorders with the parents is crucial information for you to relay to the vet. A physical exam of the affected feline will be conducted, moving the affected limbs to detect range of motion and the presence of pain. 

X-ray (Radiography) 

An x-ray is the primary method a veterinarian will use to investigate a limb deformity. The radiograph enables the doctor to view the location, direction, and magnitude of the bone abnormality. 

CT scan (Computed tomography) 

A CT scan is often completed after an x-ray as this exam provides a cross-sectional image of the affected limb(s). This 3-dimensional image will provide the veterinarian with additional information about the deformity in comparison with the x-ray.

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Treatment of Angular Limb Deformities in Cats

Many felines with mild angular limb deformities can be managed without the need for surgery. A mild angular limb deformities in cats is primarily a cosmetic flaw, not accompanied by pain. The veterinarian may treat these cases with conservative management methods such as weight management and avoidance of intense exercise. A conservative management method is set in place to decrease unnecessary stress to the joints, preventing injury and arthritis later on in the cat’s life. 

Cats with severe angular limb deformities may require surgical correction and are often referred to a specialist. Surgical correction of an angular limb deformity requires the placement of skeletal fixators to straighten the bone and keep them aligned. Surgical correction of angular limb deformities in cats has potential risks that your veterinarian will discuss with you if your cat is suffering severely from angular limb deformities. 

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Recovery of Angular Limb Deformities in Cats

The prognosis for cats that have received conservative management for their angular limb deformities is a relatively positive end result. The main goal in management of an angular limb deformity is to decrease stress to the joints, therefore it is crucial to follow veterinary instructions. Felines that have undergone surgical correction will be reevaluated frequently to ensure the bones have not continued to twist and are healing correctly. 

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Angular Limb Deformities Average Cost

From 415 quotes ranging from $500 - $5,000

Average Cost

$1,000

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Angular Limb Deformities Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Tuxedo cat

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Short Front Legs And Haunches Back

My cat was born with twisted short front legs and I want to make sure he’s not in pain and not sick. He was born this way and he walks fine just a little funny like a ferret he’s a very happy baby it seems but I worry he’s in pain or he could have a lot of problems..

July 16, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. He may be perfectly happy that way, but without seeing him, I don't have any way of knowing, unfortunately. It would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine him, see if he is having any pain or if any problems might be happening, and give you a better idea as to how he is doing. I hope that he does well!

July 16, 2020

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Chester

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Shorthair

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5 Months

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Fever

Should I treat my cat at home? My cat has deformed back legs and seems to use one more than the other. The one he uses more got really swollen and filled with puss. It burst two days ago and it now has white substance coming out of it that seems to look like tissue. The cat licks and bites at the stuff coming out of it but I’m not sure what to do. We also don’t have money to take him to the vet and I hate aeeing him in pain

Aug. 4, 2018

Chester's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Firstly you should get a cone to prevent Chester from licking or biting at his paw, but a visit to a Veterinarian is required regardless as a prescription is going to be needed to treat the paw (possibly cellulitis, abscess or another cause). Not everything can be treated at home and a delay in treatment may only result in more treatment later on. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 5, 2018

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Simba

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Maine Coon cross

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5 Months

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Shorter Front Legs

We i a kitten, he is 5mths old and he seems to have shorter front legs. So when he walks he looks like hes crouching with his back legs, when he sits he sits to the side like a dog. He have very little muscle tone, he feels like skin on bone. When you feel his front legs the top part of his legs are thicker then the bottom, he can run around and jumps, we got him from a neighbour because they had lots of kittens, so don't know if he is inbread. He doesn't seem to eat much either.small for age.

July 24, 2018

Simba's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

In cases like this it is difficult to give any specific advice without examining Simba and taking some x-rays to get a better idea of what is happening; I would recommend visiting your Veterinarian for an examination especially if he is skin and bone to see if there are any other underlying conditions. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 25, 2018

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Chicken

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Housecat

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4 Weeks

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

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Discomfort

Hi, I Have A 4 Week old kitten who was born with deformed front legs, you could say the shape of hooks. Even though he is 4 weeks, he is the size of a 2 week old kitten. He is underweight due to his Adoptive Mother rejecting him recently. His Arms are causing discomfort and I believe no pain is being caused by his front legs. He his currently being fed kitten milk formula every hour or so, is there anything I can do to increase his chances of survival?

July 15, 2018

Chicken's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

The deformity that Chicken was born with may or may not affect his long term survival, I don't have any way of knowing without seeing him. If he is eating and drinking, he may survive just fine. If you are concerned, it would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian to assess him and make sure that he is okay.

July 15, 2018

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Mercy

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Not sure

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3 Weeks

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Bent Legs
No Visible Pain
Shortened Front Legs

My 4 week old kitten was born with front legs that point inward. The kitten can not walk at all, it can only crawl around. It doesn’t seem to be in pain. It’s front legs are short and seem to have no bone in the past the joint, the paw portion all the way to the knee joint seems to be floppy. What is wrong with my cat, and what expenses am I looking at ?

June 27, 2018

Mercy's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Without being able to see Mercy and examine her, I am not sure what might be going on with her, what possible options there are for her, or how to help her. It would be best to have her examined by a veterinarian, as they can see her, assess her injuries, and see what might be done. They'll be able to give you cost estimates for any procedures that she may benefit from.

June 27, 2018

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Pepper

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Cat

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7 Weeks

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

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No Pain
Underdeveloped
Still Cute :)

I just adopted a 6 week old kitten. She is completely fine other than her front paw. She limps. She can put weight on it, and it doesn’t seem to hurt her, but she doesn’t like when i touch it. She still grooms the paw. Her other paw has developed, her pads and all of her toes have turned black colored like the rest of her body (she’s black) but on the other paw her pad is black and her toes are pink, like a newborn kitten’s. She runs around crazy so it’s not bad but I’m concerned. It seems underdeveloped. I don’t know what to do.

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Charlie

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DOMESTIC

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15 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

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Bowed Legs, Unsteadiness, Age

I have an elderly cat (15 years) and I have only noticed his forelimbs bowing out (like wings) in the last year. He also has hyperthyroidism and is on meds. Given his age and hyperT' he does pretty good although he has a lot of muscle wasting and keeping weight on him is a challenge. Regarding his legs, sometimes he seems unsteady. I wonder if it hurts when he jumps down. I am only seeing references to young cats. Does anyone have experience with an old cat?

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Archie

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Maine Coon

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7 Months

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Bowed Front Legs

Archie, is a 7 month old pure breed Maine coon. We noticed at 3 months that his front legs were bowed outwards. He has had xrays to confirm that one of his growth plates in each leg is not growing. Both front legs are identically bowed out. The vet specialist said it’s that rare they can not say whether it is trauma or genetics. The breeder says they’re never had an issue with any of their cats so it must be trauma. I simply can not understand how a trauma could equally effect both legs plus I have no idea or knowledge of him suffering a trauma of any kind. ?The breeder will only accept financial responsibility if it’s proven genetic. Tomorrow he goes for his CT scan ready for surgery in 2 weeks. As you can image this will be costly. Archie is otherwise 100% healthy does not limp and has the expected energy and agility of a healthy kitten. I want to do the right thing by him but need to understand how he got his bowed legs. Any experience or advice would be greatly appreciated.

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Kitty

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Unknown

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1 Week

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Splayed Hind Legs

I just found a 1-2 week old kitten whose mother is a wild feral. This kitten's hind legs are splayed out flat. It's able to wiggle them & sort of use them like flippers to ambulate a bit. It does not appear to be in pain. I haven't been able to catch the mother & I just dont know exactly what to do. I can't see it surviving outside on it's own after it's weaned. Our humane society is full & I am unable to care for it. What should I do?

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Pipsqueak

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Mixed ginger

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1 Month

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Lack Of Mobility

My cat Butterscotch had a litter of 3 kittens, 1 of which has passed away but out of the other 2 one, who we named Rajah, is huge compared to the other one who we named pipsqueak. And Pipsqueak's two front paws are deformed, they point inward towards her. They make it very hard for her to get up and move around, while her brother Rajah can get up and go where ever he wants she cries because she is away from him, they have been like ying and yang since the day they were born. We Are still working with her to try and teach her how to move around better.

Angular Limb Deformities Average Cost

From 415 quotes ranging from $500 - $5,000

Average Cost

$1,000

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