What to do if your cat has a broken bone

November 18, 2014

Oh dear. Your lovely little feline has gotten into trouble and has a broken bone. Don’t panic. Broken bones are common in pets and they usually mend easily with the help of veterinary care. Once you get over the shock of the accident (and the shock of the vet bill) these tips will help you care for the recovery of your cat.
1. Identifying the problem
It is very important to take your cat to the vet if you even suspect that it has a broken bone or fracture. If the injury is left untreated, the break may never heal, or may heal incorrectly, causing further pain.

The symptoms vary, depending on where on the body the injury has occurred. If it is on the leg, the cat will usually not put weight on it, holding its paw off the ground. If the break is elsewhere, they may walk with a limp, be lethargic and meow constantly, and the area may become swollen. Signs of shock after an injury include pale or white gums, rapid heartbeat and heavy breathing.
2. Getting the cat to the vet
It’s easier said than done, but you need to be careful when handling your cat to bring it to the vet or animal hospital. If it is in pain, it may lash out — so be gentle.

Approach the cat calmly. If the break or fracture is open (i.e., the bone is poking through the skin), flush the wound with clean water but don’t use any other medicines or antiseptics. Cover the wounded area with clean dressings, a clean cloth, or even a sanitary pad to stop any bleeding. If possible, tie or tape gently to keep the area or limb from moving.

If the wound is not open but the bone is clearly broken, do not try to put on a splint. Fold a towel or clean shirt and hold it underneath the wounded area.

If you are with another person, have them hold the cat while you drive everyone to a vet.

If you are alone, carefully transfer the cat to a carrier or a large closed box (be sure to allow air circulation) so the cat doesn’t panic and try to run around in your vehicle.
3. Helping your cat heal
Your vet will decide if the broken bone needs a cast or if the wound requires surgery with a pin and wire. There are a variety of treatments depending on the location of the break and the severity.

The good news is that most animals heal quickly from a broken bone. But it’s important to keep the bone stable because a break that is constantly being moved will not heal properly. Be sure to keep your cat from running and jumping until the injury is healed.

What to do if your cat has a broken bone
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