What are Simple Fractures?
Simple fractures are often seen in cats as they tend to be the result of low-grade trauma such as falls or accidently being stepped on, which are incidents frequently occurring to cats. The most common fractures seen in cats as a result of accidents and falls are leg, pelvis and tail fractures. Simple fractures tend to be seen more frequently in young, active cats that are still growing and are not yet familiar with their limits (may fall trying to jump a distance they can not safely span) and whose bones have not fully developed. However, fractures are also commonly seen in senior cats who have brittle bones or in malnourished animals whose bodies lack the minerals needed to produce strong bones. If you suspect your cat may have fractured a bone you should consult your veterinarian. Care should be taken in transporting your injured pet so as not to cause further pain, stress or displacement of the fracture.
A simple fracture occurs when there is a break in a bone with no displacement of the bone fragments. In addition, in order for a break to be considered a simple fracture there should only be two pieces of bone. That is, the bone should not be broken in more than one place.
Symptoms of Simple Fractures in Cats
A simple fracture occurs when there is no displacement of the broken bone. Although this is not as serious as breaks where there is displacement, multiple bone fragments, or bones protruding from through the skin, your cat will still experience significant symptoms including:
- Inability to bear weight on the affected limb(s)
- Lameness resulting in an abnormal gait
- Swelling near site of fracture
- Pain response (cat may vocalize distress)
- Rapid breathing and possibly shock
Lameness occurs because a broken bone cannot tolerate the normal compression (act of gravity on bone when bearing weight) and traction (pulling on bone from muscle attachment) required for normal movement and weight bearing.
Causes of Simple Fractures in Cats
Most simple fractures in cats are caused by trauma such as
- Household accidents
- Motor vehicle accidents
In some instances, fractures can occur from minimal stress and normal use due to weakness from cancerous tumors present in the bone or a metabolic disorder that leaches calcium from bones.
Other factors that predispose a cat to fractured bones include:
- Young cats with still developing bones
- Old cats with brittle bones
- Malnourished cats with weak bones
- Obese cats with added stress on bones
Hairline fractures tend to occur near the middle of long bones where leverage applied has the most chance of causing injury due to the inherent structural weakness of long bones.
Diagnosis of Simple Fractures in Cats
Your veterinarian will conduct a complete physical exam to determine location of pain and swelling and the presence of lameness. They will also need a complete history including the cat's age and any medical conditions that may have contributed to simple fracture. Any unusual activities or incidents your pet may have been involved in should be communicated to your veterinarian if the incident causing the break is not known.
Your vet will order x rays of the affected area. It may be necessary to sedate your pet in order to immobilize it and take accurate x rays. X-rays of both injured and uninjured sides of your cat may be taken for comparison.
Your veterinarian will examine the x rays for signs of simple fracture and to determine exact location, type and severity. Fractures can be complete, when the break goes all the way through the bone, or incomplete, which is when the bone is only fractured part way through. The severity and location of the fracture is important to diagnose as treatment depends on accurate understanding of the injury.
If history or symptoms are present that indicate cancer or metabolic disorder may be a contributing factors to the fracture, tests to determine their presence may be ordered.
Treatment of Simple Fractures in Cats
Your veterinarian will administer pain killers or sedation and provide supportive care for your cat as required.
Most fractures are treated with casts or splints to immobilize the fracture. Modern splints tend to be made from fiberglass, but plaster, wood or metal may be used. If there is minimal displacement and the fracture is stable, it is possible that simple cage rest to minimize movement and allow the fracture to heal may be prescribed.
Depending on the severity and location of the fracture, surgery may be necessary and pins or screws inserted to join and stabilize the fractured bone.
Prognosis for simple fracture in cats is good and most cats will recover with treatment.
Recovery of Simple Fractures in Cats
Usually, cats with simple fractures are sent home after treatment. Your cat should be kept quiet and activity minimized. Painkillers and sedation may be used as prescribed by your vet.
If your cat’s fracture was treated with a cast or splint to immobilize the fracture you will need to ensure that the cast is kept clean and dry and possibly changed if needed. Also, it is important to check the cast for signs of swelling or chaffing that could indicate the cast is too tight or too loose. You should seek veterinarian care to rectify this, especially if swelling occurs, as lack of circulation can result in a serious condition.
If surgery was needed to repair the fracture you will need to follow up with our veterinarian to have suture or staples removed. Also monitor your pet for signs of postoperative infection or complications.
Follow-up x-rays to ensure healing may be conducted when your cat has recovered. If appropriate, diet may need to be changed where malnourishment or metabolic disorder is present to ensure strong, healthy bones in your pet.
Simple Fractures Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My kitty's right leg has got injured and the inner thigh is swollen and got blue in colour. She's 1 month 5 days old and weak as she's didn't had enough of her mother's milk. I just hope it's not a serious fracture!😓😟
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My cat is limping and has a swollen right front paw. What should I do? He still purrs and eats and will pull back his paw when we touch it. His paw also feels a bit warmer than the other paw.
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