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FHO - Hip Surgery for Cats

An FHO, or femoral head ostetomy, is an effective and relatively inexpensive surgical treatment option for many cats suffering from painful hip problems. Our Ambler vets describe the cat FHO procedure and the recovery process for cats.

Common Causes of Hip Problems in Cats

If your cat is suffering from a painful hip problem it may have been 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 patient or the means of their owner.
  • Hip luxation or dislocation, often associated with serious dysplasia is commonly treated with FHO surgery. 
  • Legg-Perthes disease is another condition that can affect your cat's hips. This condition is 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.
These relatively common conditions in cats can result in mobility issues and pain. To help return your cat to comfortable mobility orthopedic surgery may be recommended.

Normal Hip Function in Cats

Your cat's hip joint works similarly to a ball and socket mechanism. The ball sits on the end of the thigh bone, or femur, and rests inside your cat's hip bone's acetabulum (the socket).

With normal hip function, the ball and socket work together allowing easy and pain-free movement. When injury or disease breaks down or disrupts 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.

This procedure Is commonly recommended for cats, especially ones who are fit. The muscle mass around active cat's joints can help to speed their recovery. However, any cat in good health can have FHO surgery to alleviate their hip pain.

Symptoms of Cat Hip Problems

Your feline friend may be suffering from a hip problem if they show one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Muscle loss around their back limbs
  • Increased stiffness and reduced range of motion
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty jumping
  • Limping when walking

FHO Surgery for Cats

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 femur. Over a period of time, a "false joint" will form and the scar tissue will form a cushion between your cat's bones.

FHO Surgery for Cats - Cost

In many cases, FHO surgery for cats can be a relatively inexpensive procedure that can often help to restore pain-free mobility to your feline family member. Only your vet can determine an accurate estimate for the cost of your cat's FHO surgery since the final amount will depend upon multiple factors including the severity of your cat's condition, their overall health, and where your veterinary clinic is located. Ask your vet for a detailed estimate in order to know how much FHO surgery for your cat is likely to cost.

Your Cat After FHO Surgery - Recovery

Of course, every cat is different and recovery times will vary. 

Following FHO you can expect your cat to stay in hospital for veterinary care for anywhere between a few hours to a few days for post-surgical care. The length of your kitty's postoperative hospital stay will depend on their health and other factors that may affect their overall recovery. Before surgery, your vet will be able to provide you with details on how long they anticipate your cat will need to stay in hospital following FHO. 

Cat FHO Recovery Phase 1

In the days immediately following your cat's FHO, the primary focus will be on pain management involving medications such as prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Your kitty's activity will need to be strictly restricted, either by keeping them comfortably enclosed in a crate or by confining them to a very small room where they aren't able to jump or run.

If your pet's pain is minimal, your veterinarian may recommend passive range of motion exercises to encourage your cat's hip joint to begin moving through its natural range of motion.

Cat FHO Recovery Phase 2

Phase 2 of your cat's FHO recovery process will begin about a week following surgery. At that time your kitty's level of physical activity can be gradually increased in order to begin strengthening the hip joint.

This gradual period of increased movement will help to prevent the scar tissue from getting too stiff and will help to improve your cat's long-term mobility. Your vet will instruct you on caring for your cat during this period, and which activities are recommended.

Cat FHO Full Recovery

Most cats recover fully within about 6 weeks following FHO surgery. If your cat hasn't fully recovered by this time, your vet may recommend physical rehabilitation (physical therapy) to ensure that your cat enjoys the best possible results from their FHO procedure.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your cat experiencing hip problems that could benefit from an FHO procedure? Contact our Ambler vets to book an examination for your feline friend.

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