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Tags: Lameness, Health Problems, Health, HIp Problems, Joint Problems, Acquired Disorders

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Lameness is a very common problem found in felines. Lameness can be caused by a number of factors contributing to the cat's inability to walk normally. Lameness refers specifically to walking with a limp or having difficulty walking. Essentially, the various reasons for difficulty in walking can be attributed to some disease of the musculoskeletal system brought on by genetic factors, trauma to the bones, virus and other infections, and arthritis.

Yet, in many cases the root cause of lameness is really not known. Listed here are some conditions and diseases where lameness is known to occur.

Acute Onset Lameness

This type of lameness comes suddenly as a direct reaction to a trauma to the legs. The animal may have been hit by a car, hit or hurt by a human, had a bad fall, or fought with felines and other animals causing injury and accompanying pain. Even though the cause may seem easy to decipher, a veterinarian will need to examine the cat to see if there are other precipitating factors, check for fractured bones, and repair the problem in order to prevent more serious conditions somewhere down the line.

As we know, electrical signals originated in the brain pass down the spinal chord and connect with synapses in the limbs to bring the message that movement is required. When this happens, muscle tendons which are connected to bone, contract (get smaller) and the bone will move to the direction of the contraction. During this process many obstructions or lesions in the spinal chord can disrupt the normal channel of sensory, or motor neurons connecting to joints, muscles and bone as they carry messages to and from the brain. When the messages are not delivered properly the animal's gait is affected and lameness occurs.

Intervertebral Disk Disease is a condition whereby disc material protrudes into the spinal chord causing weakness, lameness, and pain.

Hip Dysplasia occurs when the end of the bone (ball) does not fit properly into the socket (acetabulum). Constant friction of this bone on bone contact wears it down. Also, the protective support or cartilage around the natural bone wears down because of this constant friction and results in arthritis. Hip Dysplasia can contracted from congenital gene abnormality, a poor diet rich in fat and cholesterol, or excessive exercise.
Cranial Cruciate Ligament Avulsion refers to torn ligaments in the knee causing pain and lameness. The reasons for this disease could be degenerative tissue, poor diet, arthritis, and inflammation.
Feline Osteosarcoma - bone cancer causes tumors in the long bone. Unfortunately Feline Osteosarcoma can be misdiagnosed as arthritis, stiffness, or simple lameness. The disease inflicts a quick degeneration of bone, and inhibits generation of healthy bone.
Feline calicivirus (FCV) is the common flu virus that manifests in several symptoms including stiffness in joints and lameness.

Diagnosis For Lameness

Diagnosis depends upon the specific reason for the lameness in your cat.
  • Some diagnostic methods include:

  • Complete physical examination

  • X-ray and MRI,

  • Needle biopsy

  • Blood samples

  • And oral swaps

  • Surgery

  • Leg braces

  • Treatment

    Again, the treatment depends on the reason for the lameness. Some treatments include:

  • Diet changes

  • Vitamins and supplements

  • Homeopathy treatments

  • Exercise

  • Pain killers

  • Antibiotics

  • Radiation treatment

  • Physiotherapy

  • Chemotherapy

  • Surgery

  • Prognosis

    Since your cat may exhibit lameness for a number of reasons, it is wise to consult a veterinarian immediately, if the condition persists after 48 hours. Since many diseases are progressive degenerative diseases, the longer you wait the more severe the disease will become. It could even be fatal. Lameness is not normal and should be followed by a qualified veterinarian who determines the best course of action to take to improve the quality of life for your pet.

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