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What is Fracture of the Spine?

A cat’s spine is made up of 30 small bones or vertebrae, plus more for the tail, which fit together to house and protect the spinal cord. A fracture of the spine involves damage or breaks to the individual bones, which can put pressure on the the spine causing pain or even paralysis. This is a serious condition that requires emergency stabilization if more serious complications such as loss of mobility or bladder control are to be avoided.

A fractured spine involves damage to the bones of the backbone that protect the spinal cord, which, if severe, can result in paralysis.

Fracture of the Spine Average Cost

From 585 quotes ranging from $2,000 - $6,000

Average Cost

$4,000

Symptoms of Fracture of the Spine in Cats

Fractured bones are painful, and more specific symptoms depend on where the injury is (such as neck, chest, or lower back) and the pressure on the spinal cord. In addition, damage is often the result of trauma, and so other injuries may be present.

Signs of Trauma 

  • Bleeding wounds
  • Scuff injuries to the skin
  • Heavy or rapid breathing
  • Weakness and collapse
  • Fractures of the limbs or jaw

Pain  

  • Attempting to hide
  • Aggressive behavior when approached
  • Abnormal posture
  • Standing with the head down 
  • Unnaturally arched back

Impaired Nerve Function

  • Inability to walk
  • Dragging the back legs
  • Urinary or fecal incontinence
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Causes of Fracture of the Spine in Cats

Bone fractures rarely occur spontaneously and are usually the result of trauma. The exception is certain bone cancers which weaken the bone, but these are rare. 

  • Falling from a height
  • Collision with a motor vehicle
  • Dog bites
  • Gunshot injuries
  • Running head first into a door or wall
  • Kicks or physical abuse
  • Bone cancer
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Diagnosis of Fracture of the Spine in Cats

A cat in pain, showing signs of trauma, and with areas of numbness should be assumed to have spinal damage until proven otherwise. This means it is necessary to take care when moving the cat, so as not to cause further damage. 

The vet assesses the cat for shock and will provide immediate supportive care with intravenous fluids and pain relief if required. The vet examines the cat, paying particular attention to nerve function and any areas of poor sensation on the skin or limbs. This narrows down areas of the spine for investigation. 

Imaging is key to diagnosis, with x-rays being most cost effective. Taking great care to handle the spine gently, two views of each area of the spine are taken. This pinpoints areas of damage and maps out bone displacement. For greater detail of bone injuries, a CT scan may be performed, whilst an MRI scan is most useful for assessing the spinal cord. 

This provides vital information as to the nature of the injury (fracture, dislocation, or cancer), how severe the injury is, and the implications for repair and recovery.

Blood tests may be required to check for organ damage in the case of trauma, and to look for signs of metabolic disease which could weaken the bones.

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Treatment of Fracture of the Spine in Cats

The vet administers pain relief and supportive care in order to stabilize the patient. A major worry is the movement of bone pieces and further damage the spinal cord, so the cat may be sedated or immobilized on a bodyboard. 

The vet may repeat neurological exams at regular intervals in order to check the patient's status. For those cases that are rapidly deteriorating, have severe spinal injuries, nerve damage, and poor chances of recovery, euthanasia may be the most humane option.

For the remainder, either strict rest or surgical stabilization are required. For minor fractures involving parts of the vertebra that don't impact on the spinal cord, then a body brace and cage rest for four to six weeks may be all that's necessary.

However, surgical intervention is often needed. The surgeon will assess the best way to stabilize the fracture from options including:

  • Pins
  • Plates
  • Screws
  • Wires
  • Cement polymers
  • External fixation devices

Surgery on the spine requires a high skill level, and complications can include poor alignment of the bone pieces, swelling putting pressure on the spine, infection, and movement of the implant. After successful surgery it is essential the owner keeps their pet confined, to reduce the risk of implants loosening or moving out of place. 

In addition, skin wounds may need debridement and suturing. The vet may also suggest neutering intact animals, in order to reduce the future risk of wandering and getting into accidents.

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Recovery of Fracture of the Spine in Cats

The cat must be confined until the bones are healed. This may take anywhere from one to four months. During this time it may be necessary to nurse the cat and prevent them getting pressure sores or to manually express their bladder. 

Skin sutures from surgery are removed approximately 10 - 14 days later. The vet will perform follow up x-rays after about one month, to check that the position of any implants and that healing has started. Depending on how the cat responds clinically, final radiographs may be needed before the cat is signed off. Metal implants are usually left in place and only removed if they cause a problem.

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Fracture of the Spine Average Cost

From 585 quotes ranging from $2,000 - $6,000

Average Cost

$4,000

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Fracture of the Spine Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Junior cat

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Six Months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Jaw Chomping Arthritis Pain

Plz sir and mam at night time my accident on the spot at the one side ear part pain and neck part jaw side plz suggest me what can do

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If your cat has jaw pain and you can hear noises when he/she is chewing, it would be a good idea to have your cat seen by a veterinarian. There may be dental disease, or a malformation in the bones. They will be able to see your cat and let you know what options for treatment there might be. I hope that all goes well for your cat!

Oct. 5, 2020

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Unknown

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Four Weeks

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Unknown severity

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Can'T Lift Head Or Stay Conscious, Bleeding Nose, Urine On Legs

We think our older cat hurt her, and we found a weird feeling bump that's on one side of her neck and not the other. She won't stay awake and won't drink, and can't seem to walk. I don't know if the other cat hurt her or if she hit her head

Aug. 7, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, without examine you and your pet, I can't say what might have happened or how to treat them. From your description, it would be best to have them seen by a veterinarian right away, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and see if there is any treatment possible. I hope that everything goes well for your pet.

Aug. 7, 2020

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Siberian cat

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

None

I was picking my cat up and almost dropped her but scooped her up quickly. Her back hit my chest firmly and I've been thinking I did something to her back even though she just went back to running around and playing after i put her down. I touch her back and she doesn't bite or meow, but her back skin twitches when I touch at the base of tail. She acts completely normal but I'm still afraid for her.

July 30, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question from your description, it does not sound like any dramatic trauma has happened to your cat, and she sounds like she is acting quite normal. I think you are fine to continue to monitor her, if she showing any signs of pain, have her seen by your veterinarian. I do think that she will be okay.

July 30, 2020

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Short hair

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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Pain

My cat was laying in the drive way when my uncle pulled out and he says he didn’t run the cat over completely but he did hit him (there were pieces of his hair left in the floor) .The cat was able to get away and made it to our neighbors bushes ,my aunt and uncle brought him inside and tried lay him on the couch and he attempted to get away but his back legs were not working completely.he seems like he is in pain and when touched on his lower back he bites to get us to leave him alone .I don’t know if his spine is hurt or what is wrong ?what should I do ?

July 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. I'm so sorry that happened to your cat, that sounds awful. He needs to be seen by a veterinarian right away. They will be able to assess his spinal function, and get any medications that he needs so that he may have any chance of healing. I hope that he is okay.

July 25, 2020

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Medium hair cat

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5 1/2 weeks

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Extreme Sensitivity To Light, Limpness, And Sleepyness

My sibling had stepped on her but he refuses to tell us exactly where just saying the neck but we aren't sure of it and we didn't know until maybe 5 minutes later since he attempted to hide her. Since then she has been mainly limp, she has very small movements, it doesn't seem that she has difficulty breathing right now but she can if her head is in a wrong position, she has stiffness on some spots on her lower body, we have tried not to move her often since we don't want to ham her anymore, and she also doesn't seem to be in any pain. We would like to know your opinion on what to do

July 21, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. With that kind of head trauma, she may not recover without veterinary care. If she continues to be limp, and isn't eating or drinking, she should be seen by a veterinarian right away, as they may be able to help her. I hope that she is okay.

July 21, 2020

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Rico

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shirazi

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2 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

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Urinary Incontinence
Can’T Defecate
Bowel Enlarged

My cat had a trauma 1 month ago , i took him to the vet , an x-ray had been performed and he has been diagnosed with base of tail fracture He didn’t request any medication I took him back to home I noticed later that he has urinary incontinence and was unable to defecate ( he only defecate about 4-5 times since the accident) I took him to another vet and he said that his bowels are about to explode And his bowels may be blocked due to the trauma and as the 1st vet didn’t give me an anti-inflammatory medication He request “ ranimed” 5mg per day in order to enlarge the bowels also he gave me 2ml vit B12 seringue He pooped once , 10 days ago I don’t know what to do and i’m really so worried about him

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Opal

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Simese

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8 Weeks

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

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Head Tilt

My dog bite my 8 week old kitten. Right after she had a seizure, then she would curl herself around to where her back legs were over top of her head. Her head is tilted. This was 3 days ago. I had some pain medication. So I've been giving her that. She is walking eating a little her mother is letting her nurse a little but that head is tilted. What can I do. I really don't want to put her down if she would have a chance at a normal life. I live on a fixed income. It would what I can do and buy medicine or put her down. The sad part about it the day after this happened she was going to her new home and my dog is a good boy never had any problems out of him in 8 years. I can't believe he did that! Please help me and let me know something

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No time to name him.

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Domestic short hair.

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6 Weeks

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Labored Breathing, Nomov
Labored Breathing, No Movement

Well today is a very bad day!! I paid for two littermate kittens to come and live with me and my 3 year old son. Firstly, they did NOT act like kittens at all. Very quiet, non-playing, and no specific attention to my son nor I. We wanted kittens to play with us and love on us, however, this was not the case. I understand cats need time to adjust to new homes, although, in my past kittens 6/7 weeks of age have had no problem adjusting to their new living arrangements. They smelled a bit and would start playing. These kittens just smelled. I bought SO MANY toys not to mention the toys of my son, which I have seen another healthy kitten play with his toys and he entertained just fine. Anyways, one kitten was exploring on the stairs in my two story duplex, and he went too far over and toppled over hisself and landed on one of my sons bulky larger toys. I rushed over to check the kitten and he had a bloody nose, feces out his backside, labored breathing, and was laying their and not moving. He started to mew as if he was in pain, a mew not normally heard in my experience. I picked him up as gently as I could and he started flaying around as IF I was trying to hurt him or that i was the one who hurt him. I cleaned him up and brought him to my chest to calm him down. Remember they aren’t fond of me nor my son and came from a home with a child and their mom, dad, and older brother. I am dumbfound as to why they would be this way towards us. The other kitten is fine however really worried for her brother. My son was upset for not understanding what had happened. The kit that fell can seem to lift his head, and when I picked him up all of his limbs were moving. It’s like he can’t use his spine. I really hope he isn’t broken in such away. I feel really bad for several different reasons. One for the first night in new home and one is practically paralyzed, two I spent money on two kittens that want nothing todo with my son and I and he doesn’t understand, three the other kitten can’t understand what’s wrong with sibling, four we have waited months and months to get a kitten. Every time we found one that we liked it was gone from shelter or home or “the last one was just given away”, so I find myself in the predicament that we aren’t meant to have a cat no matter how much my son and I really want one. It doesn’t seem as though these kittens would have made a good fit any how.... sad to say. I wanted to give a homeless kitten or two a forever home....

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Snow

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Pure white

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10 Months

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Broken Spine

My brother dump 2 beautiful white cats on me ! One is completely deaf! They are sisters 10 months old! They were both pregnant! They have had the kittens in December, They are all good! One of the white mums SNOW was found outside today with a clean break in the spine above the tail! We have no idea how this has happened! She had to be put to sleep as the break was a complete break! The only sign of any mark was a scape of fur on the spine about a half inch wide inch long! No blood no marks! How could this had happened? I feel so responsible and guilty! The guilt eats at me, she was such a beautiful loving cat. She definitely was not hit by a car! We have cameras and checked she wasn’t hit by our cars! With that mark she had what could make it and snap her back💔

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Unu

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Cat

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Six Months

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Weakness

My cat is 6 months old. He fell from 4 storey building and has broken his spinal cord. If I pinch his back legs he can feel it but he cannot walk with back legs. He isn't eating at all. What Should I do. I can send you the x-rays pictures if you could just take a look at it. Plz help.

Fracture of the Spine Average Cost

From 585 quotes ranging from $2,000 - $6,000

Average Cost

$4,000

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