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What are Ligament and Tendon Conditions?

Though ligament and tendon conditions are fairly common in cats, they require prompt care in order for full mobility to be restored.

The ligaments in a cat are a tough band that is composed of a white, slightly elastic, fibrous tissue that binds the ends of bones together. Ligaments prevent excessive movements that could cause dislocation or bone breakage. They are found throughout the cat's body where two bones meet.  Tendons are composed of a fibrous tissue that connects the muscles to the bones. When conditions arise with the ligaments or tendons, the cat's mobility will suffer.

Ligament and Tendon Conditions Average Cost

From 458 quotes ranging from $200 - $5,000

Average Cost

$550

Symptoms of Ligament and Tendon Conditions in Cats

Depending on the location of the ligament or tendon that is affected and the condition that occurred, symptoms may vary slightly. These symptoms include:

  • Subtle lameness that worsens over time
  • Inability or unwillingness to exercise
  • Resting foreleg on floor rather than in an upright position
  • Pain or tenderness in paws, forelegs or hind legs
  • Swelling in joints
  • Swelling around muscles
  • Grating sounds when joints are moved
  • Walking with heel placed on ground
  • Non-weight bearing lameness

Types

There are several types of conditions that can affect the ligaments and tendons in cats. Some of these types include:

  • Cranial cruciate ligament tear: a tearing of the ligament in the knee joint
  • Palmar carpal ligament breakdown: tearing or wearing down of the ligaments in the wrist
  • Bicipital tenosynovitis: inflammation of the tendon in the shoulder joint
  • Brachii muscle rupture: rupture of the tendon in the upper limb
  • Supraspinatus avulsion: rupture of the tendon that connects shoulder to upper limb
  • Luxating patella: a condition in which the kneecap moves due to weakening or overextension of the ligaments and tendons
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Causes of Ligament and Tendon Conditions in Cats

Most ligament and tendon problems occur due to a vehicular accident, trauma received from another animal, or injury from jumping from too high of a location. Vehicular accidents can cause fractures in the bones and hyperextend the tendons. A dog or other animal who attacks a cat may bite, causing the tendons or ligaments to become injured. When a cat lands on the ground incorrectly after jumping, the ligaments and tendons are at risk of tearing, rupturing or breaking down over time. Cats can also injure their tendons or ligaments slowly over time as a result of repetitive straining, overexertion, or fatigue.

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Diagnosis of Ligament and Tendon Conditions in Cats

The veterinarian will need to know how long symptoms the have been present, any recent trauma or injuries that could have caused the ligament or tendon condition, and a complete list of symptoms. The veterinarian will gently examine the cat, feeling for signs of swelling and tenderness.

Radiography is the best way to determine what condition is affecting the cat. Radiography may include X-rays, which can eliminate fractured bones as the source of the problem; ultrasounds, which can identify swelling and tears in the ligaments and tendons; and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which can look for muscle injuries and tendon or ligament rupturing.

If the exact cause of the symptoms cannot be determined through radiography, the veterinarian may use an arthroscope to explore the affected ligaments and tendons. The arthroscope is a small endoscope that is inserted into the joint through a small incision. The veterinarian will use the arthroscope to explore the injured area and diagnose the problem. Samples of fluid or tissue may be removed using the arthroscope and sent to an outside lab for further analysis.

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Treatment of Ligament and Tendon Conditions in Cats

Surgery

Depending on the severity of the injury, surgery may need to occur. The cat will be placed under general anesthesia and a small incision will be made in the skin by the affected tendon or ligament. The veterinarian will then repair the problem and use sutures to close the incision.

Splint or Cast

The veterinarian may need the ligaments or tendons to remain immobile while they heal on their own. In these cases, a splint or cast will be placed on the cat in order to prevent mobility and re-injury from occurring.

Physical Therapy

The veterinarian may recommend physical therapy in order to strengthen the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. During physical therapy, the cat will be put through a series of range-of-motion exercises and receive massages in order to promote healing.

Weight Reduction

The veterinarian may place the cat on a special diet in order for its weight to be reduced. Cats who are overweight place more pressure on their joints and tendons, which can cause injuries to occur.

Ice Packing

Cryotherapy, the placing of ice on the injured tendons or ligaments, may be recommended after surgery or splinting. Cryotherapy normally occurs for five to 10 minutes every eight hours over the course of several days. This procedure reduces swelling and decreases pain.

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Recovery of Ligament and Tendon Conditions in Cats

With proper rehabilitation and prompt care, most cats recover fully from their ligament or tendon condition. Recommendations for physical therapy will need to be followed in order for the cat to recover properly. If surgery occurred, the cat will need to wear an Elizabethan collar in order to prevent biting of the sutures. Follow-up appointments with the veterinarian to monitor progress and healing are recommended.

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Ligament and Tendon Conditions Average Cost

From 458 quotes ranging from $200 - $5,000

Average Cost

$550

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Ligament and Tendon Conditions Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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American Short hair

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Thirteen Years

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Unknown severity

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4 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Muscle Spasms

My cat suffered a leg injury upon jumping on a dresser. He now is suffering leg spasms and has difficulty jumping. The vet has had us in rest for two weeks. I took him off rest yesterday to see how he is and he’s still having difficulty. Eating- litter box is as usual

July 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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4 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If two weeks of rest has not improved the problem, he may need a couple of things. He may need an x-ray to see if there was more damage than what you're Veterinarian initially suspected. Or he may need some anti-inflammatory pain medications. Since all over the counter pain medications are quite toxic for cats, it would be best to call your veterinarian, let them know that things have not improved, and see what their recommendation is as the next step. I hope that all gets better for him and he feels better soon.

July 26, 2020

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Smurf

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domestic short hair

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9 Years

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Moderate severity

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7 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Limping, In Pain At Times.

My 9 year old 6.5kg cat came in just over 2 weeks ago and laid on the floor. He then got himself into his radiator (not on) cradle. I went to lift him and he bit me which was unusual. I took him to the vet but they could not find anything wrong on palpation. He would not walk for them. They prescribed metacam. I have been back twice and it is thought he has a torn ligament. He sometimes cries, can hobble but limps. One vet wanted to x-ray but I did not want him given an anaesthetic when no bony injury was suspected. He spends most of his time lying down and I am carrying him up and down stairs. How long should a torn ligament take to heal and am I being stupid in not having the x ray?

Aug. 1, 2018

Smurf's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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7 Recommendations

I think the x-ray might give more information about what is going on with Smurf, and if 2 weeks have gone by and he doesn't seem to be improving, you may need to have further diagnostics done. Depending on what ligament is torn (there are many), it can take weeks to months to fully heal. It seems that a recheck might be a good idea if he is still having the problems that you are describing.

Aug. 1, 2018

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Ligament and Tendon Conditions Average Cost

From 458 quotes ranging from $200 - $5,000

Average Cost

$550

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