Monday, January 31, 2011

Hip Dysplasia in Cats - A Guest Blog By Heather Reynolds From Trupanion Pet Insurance

Persian Cat-Abby
Until recently, it was thought that cats were not affected by hip dysplasia. However, it is now known that this common health condition found in dogs affects cats as well. While no cat is immune to this condition, it is more often found in heavy-boned breeds such as the Persian and Maine Coon.

Hip dysplasia is the abnormal growth or development of the hips – basically, a poor fit of the ball-and-socket hip joint. It is likely an inherited disorder, which is not obvious at birth, but develops as the kitten grows.
Maine Coon Cat

Many cats with hip dysplasia go undetected. Even though this condition develops early, many cats don’t have pain associated with the condition until they are in adulthood, after they have been walking on their poorly formed hips for many years. So some cats can show signs before seven months of age, while others do not show it until well into adulthood. Also, due to their small size and the fact that cats are not exercised as much as dogs, they may have the condition and still function normally. But some cats, especially the more severely affected or those that are overweight, will have obvious symptoms and experience pain. Symptoms include stiffness when walking, reluctance to jump and climb, or lameness.

Hip dysplasia is diagnosed by a veterinarian by looking at x-rays of the hip joints. They may also be able to feel looseness in the joint. Typically, results of a hip dysplasia test are very straight forward.

There are varying degrees of hip dysplasia, and each case must be treated on its own merits. While there is no complete cure, there are a range of treatment options that alleviate the clinical signs. Non-surgical interventions include weight control, exercise control, and medication. If these three elements fail to maintain an adequate quality of life, surgical options are available.

Total costs for treatment can be anywhere from $2,000 to over $7,000. This includes pre-surgical x-rays, anesthesia and monitoring, epidural, surgery, post-operative x-rays, and medications.

Trupanion only offers hip dysplasia coverage if you enroll your kitten before its first birthday, when the condition is likely to develop.

Has your cat suffered from hip dysplasia? If so, did you opt for treatment?

Heather Reynolds is a pet lover and internet journalist at Trupanion, a pet insurance company. Feel free to contact her with any questions related to pet insurance  at


  1. Interesting post. I didn't know we could get that.

    pawhugs, Max

  2. Eva was diagnosed that she has hip dysplasia when she was six months old. We are giving her some Glucosamine and other supplements which we hope they can help strengthen her hips. According to some breeders and a vet, it could be due to very close in-breeding. Sigh!!!

  3. Thanks for this lovely guest post, we didn't know about kitty hip problems.

  4. @Max & @Erika and Blair THANK YOU! I didn't know that either til now. Glad Heather chose to write about it.

    @Priscilla I remember you saying that and I could tell just a teeny-tiny bit when I look at her hind legs. You can barely tell and as long as it doesn't cause her any pain it isn't a problem is it? I know you were doing swimming exercises with Mika, are you still doing them with Eva? That would help wouldn't it? xoxoxo

  5. OGC - dat is not good news. We never knew cats could get dat either. M says if I were one of those breeds, she'd get insurance right away.

  6. Great post Caren! We see so many overweight cats come into the vet clinic where I work that have HD, most owners don't realize that cats can get HD and that those few extra pounds can greatly impact their life span!

  7. @Mario I agree! Do you believe I STILL haven't gotten insurance yet and I keep saying I will!! I HAVE TO! Also...I want to repeat the blog post you did for me last year...I want to run it Feb 11th if that is ok with you...if you don't see this I will get a hold of you! Let me know if you see this! xoxo

    @Jen thank you! Heather is the one who actually wrote it(Heather from Trupanion)...I am not nearly as knowledgeable about health issues as she is so that is why I turn to the experts! Cody better lose a pound or two!

  8. Our mom says this is a great post! We are sending Caren big nose licks for putting this info out there. Our friend, Caren, is one smart cookie :D

  9. @Luscious Lucy no wonder they call you "luscious" sure know how to bring a smile to an old lady's face! lol Thanks! But I'm not the smart cookie! Heather is for researching the info and posting it! But...I AM smart to have such a wise guest blogger! :)
    You have a wonderful day and thanks so much for stopping by! xoxoxo

  10. I had no idea cats could get hip dysplasia!!! Wow, xrays are frighteningly expensive.

  11. Hadn't heard of that before! Thanks for the post.

    Austin has a damaged hip from an injury after being caught in a car engine from where he was rescued! He mended nicely and then got quite picky about who he would adopt. Happily we passed all the stringent tests. He has a protruding hip bone but it doesn't seem to hinder him at all :)

  12. Very interesting. I knew it was a fairly common thing in some big dogs, but had never heard of cats getting it.

  13. @Canidae nor did I tell Heather shared this info. Thanks for stopping by!

    @Carolyn I hadn't either and you are most welcome! I think Heather picked a great topic to write about. OMG Austin was caught in a car engine??? What a lucky kitty to have been rescued and to be with YOU!! He has your love and that is all he needs! (((((hugs)))))

    @Cat I didn't either til Heather told us. I did know that Xrays are expensive because my Bobo had a number of them for the heart issues he developed very late in life.

  14. Very interesting.

    Having owned German Shepherd Dogs for the majority of my adult life, I am familiar with this problem, however, certainly not with cats!

    Our first GSD had severe HD, but we managed it with homeopathy. Thankfully he lived to the age of 12 before suffering a gastric torsion from which he did not recover.

  15. Thank yous for telling us about this caren! Me did not know kitties got this.
    We are lucky we don't have it, but the brat Kozmo is allergic to TUNA!!!!

  16. Fascinating post. I, too, never before realized that cats could also get hip dysplasia.


  17. Yeuch, we hope that doesn't happen to us or any of our kitty friends xx

  18. @Nina Cole, what is a gastric torsion? Everyone is so medically well versed! Not me!

    @Princess Jasmine I hope it doesn't happen to you or the other kitties too!

    @Pat thanks, yes it is! :)

    @The Cat From Hell, you are welcome!! I didn't know either. But...did you know that tuna IS NOT good for cats? If you give tuna to a cat it should preferably be just the tuna water...if they eat ANY tuna at all it should be given very, very sparingly. I didn't find this out til a few months ago.

    Thanks everyone for stopping by!

  19. Glad to hear that some of you were aware of this problem, and happy to provide the information for those of you who weren't. :)

    @Caren, in case Nina Cole dosen't respond, gastric torsion is a life-threatening condition where the stomach twists over itself. It is very dangerous. My sister-in-law's dog suffered from that and barely made it through.

  20. Very interesting. I didn't know this. Storm coming our way too. Hugs, Deb=^..^=x5

  21. Dear Caren,
    This is so scary disorder !
    I think, lot of excercise need to be done !
    I'm pretty serious, I will talk to my mom to increase my timing for patrol outdoor...Heh..heh..heh.. I love you Caren : )
    You give me a really good excuse to speak to my mom..heh..heh..heh


  22. You know, I've heard about this is dogs, but not in cats. Interesting!

  23. I did not know kitties can get hip dysplasia. This is very educating. Thank you for sharing the information!

  24. @Tamago nor did I! You are most welcome! Thank you to Heather for writing about it!

    @Angie, same with me...never heard about it in cats

    @Puddy first of all I LOVE YOU TOO!!! SOOOOO MUCH!! Second, I KNOW you (of all the kitties out there!) get enough exercise! You are always on the go!

    @Deb be careful when it snows. There is a giant storm coming! Hope you can stay home.

    @Heather OMG! I had never heard of that either!!! Thank you for sharing this info with us and your post today was fabulous! Thank you!

  25. Thanks for posting this. Reminds me that I have to price pet insurance for Sammy and Fritz.

  26. @Linda B you are welcome! If you click on "pet insurance" in the last paragraph I believe it takes you directly to the get a quote page or something to that effect!
    Thanks so much!

  27. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing this information here in your blog post. This will be helpful for those who doesn't know it yet.

  28. I don't have any pets. But having pet insurance is a good idea. I know how expensive it can be at the vets!

  29. Pet insurance is necessary for proper check-up and medication. I personally own 2 dogs and 1 cat. I have insured them on very first day. Insurance helps me to take good care of them.
    Pet Supplies Online

  30. My five-year old 8lb mixed breed cat was just diagnosed with hip dysplasia, after I insisted on getting her to the vet on a gut instinct. My old dog had it also, and before I knew it was possible for cats to get it, too, I thought it looked very similar.
    Then with some form of luck, the hip x-rays also showed that she had crystals forming in her kidneys, and we caught it before any kidney damaged had taken place.
    She was always fed a veterinary diet, is a solely indoor kitty, and the whole incident has my vet baffled.

  31. Today my cat, 3 years and 9 month old- has been diagnosed with hip displasia and I am devastated.
    He is a Siamese and was bought from a reputable Breeder. What is the next step to help my cat.
    Hip displasia is not sever but sometimes he is sore. Should I talk to the breeder.

    1. Barbara I am so sorry to hear this. I would tell the breeder but any advice for what should be done should come from your vet. I am not authorized to give advice about what should be done. Please keep me posted.

  32. My 4 year old black and white cat was diagnosed with hip dysplasia in one hip about 7 months ago. The x ray showed the head of the femur desolving. Now it looks like the second hip is also affected. He often lays flat on his tummy with his legs straight behind him! He doesn't seem to be in much pain unless we touch his hips. We keep his weight down and he still can run. How long can he live this way? I don't dare take him to the vet again - x rays and visit was so expensive and we decided against the surgery.


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