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CalCatDoc
CalCatDoc, Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 274
Experience:  I'm a veterinarian specializing in cats and have owned cats for 35 years. I love all things feline!
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I have a stray cat I took in as a kitten thats 1 year, 3 months

Customer Question

I have a stray cat I took in as a kitten that's 1 year, 3 months now. I had x-rays done Monday and he has a fractured femural neck (jumped off the table and has been limping ever since). Surgery is $1,200 which is a lot for me. I love cats - I have 4 of them but feel it's a lot of money to spend on a stray. I had read online that possibly you could let it heal itself - it would just take a long time and there could be arthritis issues later in life. My vet called today to see how Timmy is doing and of course, said he really needs the surgery. Otherwise he'll have a lot of pain. I'm torn with what to do. I don't want him to suffer. If I let his body heal itself are there alot of negative consequences to that and will he live with constant pain? He seems to be getting around fine. He limps but he's very loving and doesn't seem to be in pain.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  CalCatDoc replied 1 year ago.

CalCatDoc :

Hi! I'm CalCatDoc and I can help with your questions about Timmy's injury.

CalCatDoc :

Did the injury happen over the weekend?

CalCatDoc :

Hello?

CalCatDoc :

It says you are standing by but I'm not sure if you can read this.

Customer:

It happened 2 weeks ago today.

Customer:

He was up on the kitchen table and jumped off and immediately started hissing and limped away. I knew he was in pain. He seemed a little better over the next few days - limping but not in pain. I was on vacation for 7 days and when I got back he was still limping so I decided to take him to the vet for x-rays. That's when I found out it's a fractured femural neck. What I wonder is if it could heal on it's own rather then paying the $1,200 for the surgery. My vet feels he needs the surgery.

CalCatDoc :

I'm sure your vet has explained to you that the very best care would involve surgery. And this is true, however cats do have an incredible innate capability for healing orthopedic injuries. We have a saying in veterinary medicine: If you put two cat bones in the same room, they'll heal together.

CalCatDoc :

Let me tell you of a couple of cases I have seen over the course of my 31 years in practice.

Customer:

I know surgery would be best. It's the $1,200 that is hard for me.

CalCatDoc :

Nearly 30 years ago a cat was brought in that had a fractured femur. That's the big thigh bone. General rule even then was: SURGICAL repair, period. Well, the client simply had no money, and asked if she could just take the cat home. I said we could give it a try. A month later she called to say he was walking normally.

CalCatDoc :

He suffered no long term consequences.

CalCatDoc :

Another case, about 10 years ago - this time the cat had TWO fractured femurs, badly displaced. Same story. Went home, owner called a month later to say he was walking normally. So these hard and fast rules do not necessarily hold.

CalCatDoc :

Now the main problem with your cat is that his fracture involves the hip joint, and that is of course where the likelihood of arthritis down the road comes in. It's not really a long bone fracture as far as consequences go.

Customer:

I'm glad to hear it can happen. I want to believe Timmy can recover from this on his own. I just don't him to suffer with pain. He seems to be getting around well. They offered me a deal with a credit card where there's no interest for one year but it's still a lot of money. I have 4 cats so am a big cat lover and I did foster care of cats for a shelter for 4 years.

CalCatDoc :

So that is a down side: risk of future problems. The up side is that he is young, so his healing is going to be very rapid compared to a mature cat.

CalCatDoc :

One of the things with this particular fracture, IMHO, is that you have the ability to sit back and see how well he heals on his own. If he develops trouble in the future that is worsening, then you can still have the FHO surgery done and remove the problematic piece of bone. But that may never become necessary.

Customer:

If I were to allow him to heal on his own would he be in constant pain? I know you may not be able to answer that but I just don't want him to suffer in the healing process or live with pain the rest of his life. I feel I/we would deal with the arthritis if/when that happens.

CalCatDoc :

Well if they are eating normally and active, it's hard to say how much pain there actually is...................

Customer:

I wondered about that. I thought I read something about not having to do the surgery right away and see how things go.

Customer:

I know cats hide their pain. His personality seems as loving as ever. He sits with me at night and loves for me to rub his neck.

CalCatDoc :

I had a female cat (my first cat) in vet school who had, oddly enough, severe hip dysplasia, which is normally just a dog thing, but cats can actually have it, too. Over the years it seemed like she walked a little funny and wasn't a great jumper, but she lived to 17. I took XRays when she was old for another problem and you couldn't even see that she'd had hip dysplasia when young. She remodeled her hips and they worked fine.

CalCatDoc :

They do hide their pain, but I am kind of old school and have to ask: if they are showing NO evidence of pain, IS there actually pain? What does "pain" mean?

Customer:

Any suggestion on how long to wait for the healing before having the surgery? Timmy is getting around better every day. He actually jumps up on the coach and window seal now. He's very cautious but he's getting more and more active.

CalCatDoc :

Do you want the truth? If he were my cat (and remember, I'm a vet), I would just wait and see. If he gets better all the time, you don't have to do surgery. And then if down the road it starts to bother him (months or years from now, if at all) you can always reconsider.

CalCatDoc :

This is not a matter of life and death, where you don't really have a choice. Let his appetite and activity level and behavior guide your decision. I do not believe this is cruel.

Customer:

Timmy showed pain the night it happened - he hissed and wondered off by himself. I could tell he was hurting. But now he just moves slower and is careful and shows no sign of pain. No hissing, no crying. He still grooms my other cats and allows them to groom him. The only time he reacts is if he's sitting one one comes near his sore hip. Then he'll make a sound for them to back away.

CalCatDoc :

We have another saying in vet medicine:

CalCatDoc :

Feline orthopedics consists largely of REST.

CalCatDoc :

I think 2 weeks from now you will be amazed at how he is doing.

Customer:

You've been SOOO helpful. I really appreciate your honesty about this. The positives and the negatives. I have wanted to take a wait and see approach but was feeling a little guilt from the vet. I have felt like if it's not life threatening and there's a chance Timmy can heal on his own and still live a quality life I'd rather wait and take that chance. And as you said, IF things turned for the worse,the surgery is always an option at a later time.

CalCatDoc :

I think sometimes the person who stands to benefit financially is not always the most objective voice in care decisions.

CalCatDoc :

A sad fact of life in human and veterinary medicine.

Customer:

I've seen amazing progress in this past week so would like to give it more time. You've given me the confidence to do that. Thank you so much!

CalCatDoc :

YVW! Let me know how he does. Bookmark this page for easy return.

Customer:

I agree about the financial benefits. The vet said to me today we want to do what's best for Timmy. I agree - BUT do I want to spend $1,200 for what she says is best.

CalCatDoc :

If you had the money sitting around, it would be another thing. But taking on that much debt can be very risky in this economic climate.

CalCatDoc :

Oh I have a question

Customer:

Agree totally. If money were no object I'd do it in a heartbeat. But that's a lot of money for a stray cat. Much as I love Timmy I have more urgent financial needs.

CalCatDoc :

Is he a fat kitty, or really large in stature?

CalCatDoc :

And how old was he when he was neutered?

Customer:

He's a small cat. He weighed about 9 pounds at his appointment Monday. He looks skinny (but from what they say he's lean like a cat should be). They say most cats are overweight.

CalCatDoc :

It is so rare for this to happen from a household accident and I just realized that that is one of the potential drawbacks of early neutering in males.

CalCatDoc :

Their growth plates don't close on schedule, so this sort of thing is more likely. It's why I'm such a bear about waiting until 8 months to neuter boys.

CalCatDoc :

Just something that made me curious about his case.

Customer:

I read something about early neutering last night and the risk. The vet neutered him as soon as they said he was old enough - I think it was at 3 months. I was shocked too at his injury. He's jumped off the counter many times which is higher then the table. The only thing I could think of was that his leg hit the chair leg on the way down. But cats are usually so good at their landings.

CalCatDoc :

They are built for jumping. He is just a statistic - and this will just reinforce my attitude about neutering early.

Customer:

I have wondered if the early neutering contributed to this. I read about a case the other day where their male cat continued to have issues with fractures that they attributed to early neutering.

CalCatDoc :

Let me find a link for you, I think they have several cases.

Customer:

My older male cat was a stray and we didn't find him until he was over a year old so he was older when he was neutered and has had no issues. He's 12 years old now and my only expense has been the neutering and his well check-ups each year.

CalCatDoc :

in

Customer:

Thanks so much for the links. I'll check them out.

CalCatDoc :

".....Of 16 cats for which age at the time of neutering was known, 14 had been neutered before 6 months of age.....".

Customer:

And thank you for your advice. VERY helpful!!

CalCatDoc :

Thanks again. Happy to help.

CalCatDoc :

.

CalCatDoc, Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 274
Experience: I'm a veterinarian specializing in cats and have owned cats for 35 years. I love all things feline!
CalCatDoc and 3 other Cat Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  CalCatDoc replied 1 year ago.
Hi Char,

I'm just following up on our conversation about Timmy. How is everything going?

CalCatDoc
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi,


 


Timmy seems to be getting around fine. He's getting more active every day and is now jumping up on the furniture and sitting on his spot on top of the coach. He can get up on my bed now too so seems to be getting stronger every day. Still limping around but it's not slowing him down much. He doesn't seem to be in any pain.


 


Thanks again for your information Thursday night. It was helpful to me.

Expert:  CalCatDoc replied 1 year ago.
I'm so happy to hear he's still improving. I think he will amaze you.

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