Cats with Hip Dysplasia

hip dysplasia in cats

Hip dysplasia is an orthopedic disorder of the hip joint that can afflict cats, despite its rarity. It is caused by aberrant growth of one or both hip joints, resulting in joint instability and degeneration. Although cats don't often show obvious indicators of hip dysplasia, symptoms including limping, avoiding activity, and irritation may indicate a diagnosis. Hip dysplasia in cats is mostly inherited, however it can also be brought on by obesity. Hip dysplasia is more common in large purebred cats, such as Maine coons and Himalayan cats, than in mixed breed cats. Medications to control pain and inflammation are commonly used in treatment. You can anticipate a full recovery if you are diagnosed and treated early.

What Is Hip Dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is a degenerative illness that causes discomfort and stiffness due to a deformity of the ball-and-socket joint of the hip. If hip dysplasia continues, cats will most likely acquire osteoarthritis.

The femoral head is rounded and lies in a socket-like structure called the acetabulum in a healthy hip joint. With the help of cartilage, joint fluid, and muscles, the joint can function smoothly. The femoral head of a cat with hip dysplasia, on the other hand, develops an uneven form and does not fit well within the socket. Pain, inflammation, and stiffness occur when the joint becomes unstable. The ill-fitting joint may degrade the cartilage over time, causing the bones to grind together.

Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia in Cats

In the early stages of hip dysplasia, cats often show no indications of sickness, and cats with mild to moderate condition may never develop symptoms. During a normal health exam or when obtaining x-rays for another reason, your veterinarian may notice evidence of hip dysplasia.

Hip dysplasia symptoms may resemble those of other injuries. If you see these or any other indications of sickness in your cat, make an appointment with your veterinarian.

Symptoms may include:


  • Lameness or limping that gets gradually worse
  • Trouble jumping
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Lethargy and/or irritability
  • Stiffness and decreased range of motion in on or both rear limbs
  • Muscle loss in rear limbs

Lameness or Limping

Your cat's unstable joint may cause discomfort, inflammation, and stiffness, resulting in lameness or limping. If left untreated, this will almost certainly worsen over time. Consult a veterinarian if you observe changes in your cat's movement.

Exercise Intolerance

In addition to lameness and limping, hip dysplasia can affect your cat's ability to exercise, impacting movements like jumping, running, and climbing.


Your cat may be suffering lethargy and irritation as a result of the pain associated with hip dysplasia. Consider physical discomfort as a possible cause if you observe a change in your cat's demeanor.


Your cat's poorly-fitting joint may lead to stiffness. The stiffness may be especially noticeable when your cat gets up or lies down.

Muscle Loss

Hip dysplasia can cause muscle loss in your cat's hips and thighs. In contrast, increased shoulder muscles may be an indication of hip dysplasia, since your cat is depending more on its upper body to avoid uncomfortable hip usage and compensate for muscle loss.

Causes of Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is believed to be a hereditary disease in cats, but a couple of factors can be linked to the development of the condition.

  • Obesity: Your cat's weight can contribute to the development of hip dysplasia, as excess weight increases the amount of pressure put on a cat's hips, eventually leading to joint distress.
  • Injury: If your cat has been injured in the past, such as having been hit by a car, the strength of its hips may be compromised, making the development of a joint condition more likely.

Diagnosing Hip Dysplasia in Cats

It's recommended to consult your veterinarian if you believe your cat has hip dysplasia. Following an x-ray of the afflicted joint, your veterinarian can provide a definitive diagnosis of hip dysplasia in your cat.


Your vet will diagnose your cat's hip dysplasia through a physical examination and x-rays. Treatment considerations are made based on the severity of the x-ray results and your cat's symptoms.

Hip dysplasia in cats is usually treated conservatively at first. Medications to reduce pain and inflammation, as well as probable modifications in activity levels, are usually included in this treatment. If the conservative approach fails, your veterinarian will discuss surgical treatment options with you.

A femoral head and neck removal is the most usual procedure. During this procedure, the veterinarian removes the femur's malformed head and neck. Your cat's muscles will eventually recover and construct a new, fake joint. Most cats will resume their usual lives after their recuperation.

In exceptional circumstances, your veterinarian may recommend a complete hip replacement. The hip joint is replaced with an unique synthetic hip termed a micro-THR in this procedure.

Prognosis for Hip Dysplasia in Cats

Hip dysplasia in cats might be limited in its consequences if discovered early and treated quickly. Symptoms will arise gradually as the ailment advances and will continue to deteriorate over time if undetected or untreated. Osteoarthritis, for example, is often caused by hip dysplasia, aggravating pain, inflammation, and stiffness. Although severe hip dysplasia frequently necessitates surgery, most cats can be totally rehabilitated with care. If surgery isn't an option for your cat, your veterinarian may recommend anti-inflammatory drugs or physical therapy.

How to Prevent Hip Dysplasia in Cats

Hip dysplasia in cats cannot be totally avoided because it is inherited. However, catching the illness early and slowing its course may be possible. If your cat isn't genetically susceptible to hip dysplasia, the best way to avoid it is to keep it at a healthy weight and exercise its muscles regularly. When you experience persistent lameness, soreness, or stiffness, contact your veterinarian.

Cat breeders can prevent future incidences of hip dysplasia by spaying or neutering a cat with the disease to stop the ailment's hereditary transmission. Hip dysplasia in cats should not be utilized for breeding.

  • How do I know if my cat has hip dysplasia?

    If you notice a change in your cat's mobility, such as lameness, limping, or an intolerance to exercise, consider hip dysplasia as a possible cause.

  • Is hip dysplasia hereditary?

    Hip dysplasia is typically seen in big purebred cats, such as Maine coons, and is usually genetic. Even if a cat does not have a hereditary tendency to hip dysplasia, obesity can cause the illness.

  • Does hip dysplasia require surgery?

    Hip dysplasia in cats is typically first treated non-surgically with pain-managing medication and lifestyle adjustments. If this isn't enough, your vet may suggest joint surgery.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.


"Hip Dysplasia. Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine." ;