FHO Surgery in Cats

If your cat has hip problems FHO surgery could be an effective and fairly inexpensive option for surgical treatment. In this post, our Hoquiam vets discuss the anatomy of a cat's hips, problems that could affect their hips as well as what FHO surgery entails including treatment.

How Cats Develop Hip Problems

A cat's hip problem could be caused by a combination of genetic predisposition, old age, and injury. 

  • Hip fractures 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 fairly common hip issues can lead to pain and mobility problems for your cat. Orthopedic surgery might be recommended to treat the condition.

How a Cat's Hip Joints Function

The joints of your cat's hips function 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 problems can arise as a result of rubbing and grinding between the two parts. Inflammation brought on by a damaged or poorly functioning hip joint can also decrease your kitty's quality of life and mobility.

Our veterinarians often recommend FHO surgery for cats, especially for those that are fit. The muscle mass surrounding an active cat's joints can help speed up their recovery. But, all cats that are in good health can have this procedure done to help manage their hip pain.

Signs & Symptoms Your Cat Has Hip Pain

Your feline companion could be experiencing a hip problem if they are exhibiting one or more of these symptoms:

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

Cat FHO Surgery

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.

The Cost of FHO Surgery

FHO surgery is a generally inexpensive procedure that could help alleviate your cat's pain and restore their mobility. The cost of your cat's surgery will depend upon a variety of factors so you will have to consult with your veterinarian to get a more accurate estimate.

How Cats Recover from FHO Surgery

All cats are different. Following their surgery, your cat might have to stay at the veterinary hospital for anywhere between a few hours to a few days for post-operation care. The length of their stay will depend on their health and some other factors.

Phase 1

In the immediate days after the surgery, you and your vet will focus on controlling your kitty's pain with medications that could possibly include prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Your cat will have to have their activity restricted by either putting them on crate rest or confining them to a small room where they won't be able to run or jump.

If your furry friend isn't in too much pain, your vet might recommend some passive range of motion exercises to motivate your cat's hip joint to move through its natural range of motion once again.

Phase 2

Approximately one week after their surgery, the second recovery phase will include gradually increasing your cat's physical activity to start strengthening their joint.

This prevents the scar tissue from getting too stiff and will help improve the long-term mobility of your cat. Your vet will give you instructions for the appropriate exercises that will meet your cat's needs.

Most cats will be fully recovered within about 6 weeks after the surgery. If your cat hasn't fully recovered by this time, they might need 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 pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your Kitty is suffering from hip pain, contact our Hoquiam vets so they can examine your feline friend and diagnose their condition.