Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO) surgery can be an effective surgical treatment option for cats suffering from hip problems. Our Concord vet team talks about the hip anatomy of cats, problems that could affect your kitty's hips, and what’s involved in FHO surgery and recovery.
Causes Of Hip Problems In Cats
If your cat is suffering from a painful hip problem it could be caused by a mixture of old age, injury, and genetic predisposition. Some of the most common hip problems in cats include:
- Hip fractures that can't be repaired surgically, either because of the health of the cat or financial considerations of their owner
- Hip luxation or dislocation, often associated with serious dysplasia
- Legg-Perthes disease, a condition characterized by a lack of blood flow to the top of the femur, leading to the spontaneous degeneration of the head of the femur, resulting in arthritis and/or hip damage.
How A Healthy Feline Hip Works
Your cat's hip joint works like a ball and socket, with the 'ball' sitting on the end of the thigh bone (femur) and resting inside your cat's hip bone's acetabulum (the socket).
With normal hip function, the ball and socket work together allowing easy, painless movement. When injury or disease affects your cat's normal hip function, pain and other mobility issues can result due to rubbing and grinding between the two parts. Inflammation caused by a poorly functioning or damaged hip joint can also reduce your feline friend's mobility and quality of life.
Signs That Your Cat May Have Hip Problems
Your feline friend may be dealing with a hip problem if they show one or more of the following symptoms:
- Muscle loss around their back limbs
- Increased limb stiffness and reduced range of motion
- Difficulty jumping
- Limping when walking
Cat Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO) Surgery
This procedure is commonly recommended for cats and is especially effective for active felines. The muscle mass around active cats' joints can help to speed their recovery. However, any cat in good health can have FHO surgery to alleviate its hip pain.
During your cat's FHO surgery, your vet will remove the femoral head, leaving the socket of your cat's hip empty. Your cat's leg muscles will initially hold the femur in place and scar tissue will develop between the acetabulum and the femur. Over some time, a "false joint" will form and the scar tissue will form a cushion between your cat's bones.
What To Expect After Your Cat's FHO Surgery
Each of our feline friends is unique. Post-surgery, they may need to stay at a vet hospital for anything from a few hours to a few days for monitoring and care. The length of their stay will depend on their health as well as a few other factors.
In the days immediately following surgery, you and your vet will focus on controlling pain with medications such as prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Your cat will need to have its activity limited to heal fully. You will need to either keep them comfortably enclosed in a crate or confine them to a small room where they aren't able to jump or run.
If your pet is not in too much pain, your vet may recommend passive range of motion exercises to encourage your cat's hip joint to move through its natural range of motion once again.
Starting about one week after surgery, the second recovery phase involves the gradual increase of your cat's physical activity to begin strengthening their joint.
This prevents the scar tissue from getting too stiff and will improve your cat's long-term mobility. Your vet will instruct you on what appropriate exercises for your cat might be.
Most cats recover fully within about 6 weeks of the surgery. If your cat hasn't fully recovered by this time, it may require physical therapy or rehabilitation to ensure a full recovery.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. Always follow your doctor's advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms.