Casting and Splinting in Cats

Casting and Splinting for Cats - Conditions Treated, Procedure, Efficacy, Recovery, Cost, Considerations, Prevention
Casting and Splinting for Cats - Conditions Treated, Procedure, Efficacy, Recovery, Cost, Considerations, Prevention

What is Casting and Splinting?

Splinting a limb or applying a cast to a body part are simple and effective ways to isolate and prevent the movement of an injured body part and to give it time to properly heal. Cats (and animals in general) are often fitted with splints or casts when certain injuries occur, as unlike humans, they do not understand the need to rest damaged body parts as they heal and as such require physical restraint to limit their range of motion.

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Casting and Splinting Procedure in Cats

To splint a limb, the vet will first apply a sedative or general anesthetic, depending on the cat's willingness to cooperate with the procedure. They will then properly align the ends of the broken bone and rest the splint alongside it. Next, they will secure the splint to the limb using straps which are tightened incrementally so as not to disturb the bone. If a cast is being applied, the vet will (after alignment) soak several layers of bandages in adhesive and press them together, smoothing out any air pockets and creases. Then they will wrap the broken limb in padding and wind the cast material around the outside, to prevent it from sticking directly to the cat’s hair or skin. Next, bandages are wrapped around the outside and the cast is left to dry.

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Efficacy of Casting and Splinting in Cats

If all goes well, the splint or cast will ensure a good standard of healing for the fractured bone. That said, due to the potential complications of this procedure, most vets will prefer a surgical option instead. Although more technically complex, by implanting screws and other metal structures to keep the bone in place, the vet can ensure that the cat will return to a semblance of its normal routine within a relatively short space of time. Internal fixation of the break will also ensure that there is no room for the bones to move out of alignment and heal incorrectly.

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Casting and Splinting Recovery in Cats

Following the procedure, owners will be required to keep a close eye on their cat. Not only will they have to restrict their cat's amount of exercise to avoid dislodging the bone, but they will also have to stay vigilant for the signs of potential complications. The vet will also most likely want to have regular follow-up appointments every few days in order to check the progress of the healing, look for signs of complications and replace the cast or splint if necessary. Whilst the healing time of younger cats can be quite short and they can be expected to be back to normal within as little as a few weeks. Older cats (who make up the majority of splint and cast users) can take as long as several months to fully heal. 

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Cost of Casting and Splinting in Cats

The price for applying a cast or splint to a cat can be surprisingly high, costing as much as $1,000 in some cases. The cost is, of course, dependent on several factors, including the age, overall health and medical history of the injured cat. On the other hand, alternative treatments such as internal fixation can be expected to cost just as much as a cast or splint.

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Cat Casting and Splinting Considerations

Although splinting or casting a damaged limb can seem like the best option for many cats, owners should bear in mind that the procedure does not come without a certain level of risk. The most obvious factor in this regard is the impediment to motion caused by the procedure. Without their natural dexterity, cats can fall victim to any number of additional injuries from being unable to evade dangers, to becoming prone to falling when attempting to navigate around the house. A more serious problem is the risk of cell death due to constriction by the cast or the bindings of the splint. Many cats can have a negative reaction to the constant pressure exerted by casts and splints, resulting in swelling, chafing, infection and even gangrene. In extreme cases, this can even result in amputation of the affected body part. For this reason, owners should keep a very close watch over their pet should they decide to go ahead with this procedure.

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Casting and Splinting Prevention in Cats

By making sure their pets have a safe living environment and are not allowed to venture near to main roads, owners can mitigate much of the risk of broken bones. Conversely, this does not mean that the cat should be confined to the house, as allowing them to exercise freely will aid the development of strong, healthy bones and joints.

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Casting and Splinting Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Black

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Idk

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0 found helpful

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0 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Limping

How can I fix her broken paw it’s completely broken we think we found her outside a minute ago and we’re the wrist connects it’s completely broken

July 10, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Broken bones need evaluation and treatment via a veterinarian to heal appropriately. She needs to see a veterinarian immediately so x-rays can be performed and pain control provided. Depending on the location and type of fracture splinting or surgery may be recommended. These will not heal well on their own. Please give your veterinarian a call or go directly to a veterinary emergency clinic. Dr. Noble

July 10, 2020

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Kitzu

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Not sure

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4 Years

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7 found helpful

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7 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Swollen Paw
Limping

Hello, the other day I heard a bang outside and my cat yowling. I ran outside & saw my cat run in one direction and another cat go in the other direction. I called to my cat but she didn't come home until a few hours later and I noticed her limping. It's her front left paw which she will hold in the air when she walks around. I've been keeping her inside since and she seems to be eating/drinking/using the litter fine. She still walks around and hangs out but it's swollen. I'm thinking she fell off something and fractured it. I can't afford to go to the vet as I just took in another cat with a really bad break in her back leg and the vet bills were not cheap. How could I make a homemade splint?? (and how long should I keep it on?) And should I wait for swelling to go down before splinting?

Sept. 5, 2018

Kitzu's Owner

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