|Connor enjoying late afternoon sunshine at home on Thursday. |
You can't see the incision in this picture, but it's about 2 inches long.
Tuesday evening at around 6:15, Connor came into the bedroom where I was. It looked like he was dragging his back end, but quickly lay down on the floor. Larry called him so that he got up again, and we could see he was holding up his back left leg. When we tried to pick him up or when we touched his leg, he cried out.
We left for the emergency hospital. It only took us about 40 minutes to get there, but it seemed forever because he was obviously in pain and upset, and there was little I could do to comfort him.
At the hospital, the vet gave him two pain medications right away so he could be examined. Even then, Connor cried out in pain when the vet moved his leg. So they gave him more pain medication.
Once x-rays could be done, the vet told us he had broken his hip. We were horrified, and we couldn’t understand how we could have missed the major traumatic event that must have caused it.
Turns out it was the kind of break that needs no trauma to happen. It was a femoral neck/capital physis fracture. It can happen in cats and dogs. With cats, it mostly occurs in large neutered males.
The surgeon told us the theory is that when neutering occurs in young cats, the drop in testosterone can delay the closure of growth plates, and in some cats, this can result in this type of fracture. If it happens on one side, there is a 25 percent chance of it happening on the other side. (Note: Please don’t take this as a caution against having your cats neutered.)
Connor had a femoral head ostectomy (FHO), where the head and neck of the femur are removed. The bone is held in place by scar tissue and other tissues and muscle. It sounds impossible, but most cats and small dogs can run and jump afterwards, though they may have a limp and may be limited in jumping ability as compared to before the surgery.
Connor came home yesterday and is doing well. We have to try to keep him as quiet as possible for at least two weeks for the incision to heal. But the vet said it’s important that he build up the muscles in that hip. So he is allowed short walks already.
He doesn’t like being in a crate most of the time, but we are looking for ways to make it more manageable for him. He threw out all of the litter in the small litter box we put in the crate, and sat in the box. So we let him out periodically, and he uses the regular litter boxes.
Since Connor was diagnosed with a broken hip, it seems like people have come out of the woodwork on Facebook to tell me that they have had pets who had the FHO surgery and did fine. Abbey’s vet, the internal specialist, works in the same clinic as the surgeon and talked with us about it. One of her cats had to have the surgery on both hips. And our regular vet says that it’s a common procedure.
We are glad that Connor did well with the surgery and is at home. The next couple of weeks especially will be challenging for him, but he is a brave and spunky boy. We believe he will be just fine.