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Companion Animal Practice
Repair of long bone fractures in cats
  1. Harry Scott

    Harry Scott graduated from Liverpool in 1977 and has worked in small animal practice ever since. He holds RCVS certificates in small animal dermatology and small animal orthopaedics, a fellowship by examination in canine spinal surgery and the RCVS diploma in small animal surgery (orthopaedics). He is an RCVS specialist in small animal orthopaedics. He has worked in referral practice in the UK and Australia, and is currently based in an orthopaedic and spinal surgery referral practice in Hampshire.


LONG bone fractures are common and account for 50 per cent of all feline fractures. They are usually caused by road traffic accidents, but may also result from falls, fights and gunshot wounds. Fractures of the hindquarters predominate, with reports of 73 per cent of fractures involving the hindlimbs, pelvis or sacrum. Although the broad principles of long bone fracture treatment are the same irrespective of species, cats are not small dogs, and important differences exist with respect to patient and fracture management. There is a common misconception that repair of feline long bones is simple to perform and not prone to the same range of complications seen in dogs. It has been facetiously remarked that two cat bone fragments will heal if placed together in the same room. Unfortunately, this casual attitude is not borne out by clinical experience and studies, which have shown the cat to be susceptible to the same range of complications as the dog. The notion that feline fracture repair is straightforward may have arisen because of the cat's ability to compensate for impaired function. This article provides an overview of the most commonly used methods of diaphyseal long bone fracture repair in cats and suggests some guidelines to aid decision making, with the emphasis on features that are pertinent to this species.

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