Do cats have knees?

Did you know that just like us humans, kitty and the rest of the tribe have knees too? Not many cat owners are aware of this fact. Most people would not consider the fact that cats and other four legged animals do not have legs. Just like us, the knees of cats are the two roundish bones located on each of the cat’s hind legs.

If you take a look at a cat’s skeleton, you will notice a bone that has a rather pointed back and connected to the phalanges. This bone is the heel. The heel would not be flattened to the surface where the skeleton is mounted because cats walk on their toes. From the heel joints the next bendable joint that connects the femur and the tibia is the knee. Just as with humans, the knee joint is the one of the weakest body parts. The femur and the tibia are only connected by several ligaments. The absence of interlocking bones makes the knee joint unstable. Injuries to the knees are therefore common in cats considering these animals’ inclination to leap from heights. The joints can be severely twisted when the running cat veers suddenly to follow a prey.

Anterior cruciate ligaments’ function is to keep the knees stable. However, an injury can cause the ligaments to tear or to rupture. This kind of injury would cause the instability of the bone connection. Anterior cruciate ligament rupture is also common in overweight cats. The cat’s excessive weight can contribute to the tearing of the ligaments. Damaged cruciate ligament can also cause the tearing of the cartilage. This elastic and rubbery cartilage cushions the knee joints. Luxating patella also known as trick knee is another knee injury that occurs when the kneecap moves out of its normal position. Luxating patella is more common in small or miniature dog breeds but this knee condition can occur in cats too. Patellar luxation can be associated with an anterior cruciate ligament injury but commonly this knee injury can develop due to a congenital defect.

Cats are stoic when it comes to pain thus it can be kind of hard for a cat owner to know the true condition of the pet. A cat with a knee joint concern would be limping. The pet will be noticed to favor one hind leg. Cat owners must be perceptive of the subtle signs of the injury the pet is showing. Because of the pain, the cat’s behavior will change. The activity level of the cat will decrease. The cat may refuse to play or altogether refuse to budge.

As with any kind of injury, early diagnosis and treatment will give the cat a good chance to recover fully. Arthritis is the common outcome if the cat has damaged joint capsule and cartilage loss. Arthritis is a very painful condition especially in older cats. The development of this condition though can be prevented if treatment is administered at once. Treatment goal is to make the knee stable. Medical therapy would improve the condition of the joint but there is a big possibility that the cat would eventually develop arthritis. If the cat has a mild luxating patella, the vet would usually manually luxate the patella. Surgery would be the best option if the patella cannot be manually repositioned. In severe cases of ACL, a surgical procedure would be very necessary as arthritis that is allowed to progress can no longer be corrected even if the cat undergoes a surgical procedure. Surgery is vital to ensure knee joint stability. A veterinary orthopedic specialist can replace the torn ligament with an artificial one.

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