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Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO) Surgery for Cats

Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO) Surgery for Cats

Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO) surgery can be an effective and relatively affordable surgical option to treat cats with hip problems. Our Benicia specialist vets describe the hip anatomy of cats, problems that could affect them, and FHO surgery and recovery.

Why Hip Problems Occur 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.

How Your Cat's Hip Should Function

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 should work together for 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 from abnormal 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 physically active. The muscle mass around active cats' joints can help to speed their recovery. However, any cat in good health can have FHO surgery to alleviate their hip pain.

Signs That Your Cat May Have 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
  • Increased vocalizations 

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.

FHO Surgery Cost

FHO surgery for cats is a relatively inexpensive procedure that can often help to restore pain-free mobility to your kitty. The cost of your cat's FHO surgery will depend upon a number of factors so you will need to consult your veterinarian for an estimate.

What to Expect After Your Cat's FHO Surgery

Each of our feline friends is different. After surgery, they may need to stay at a vet hospital for anywhere from a few hours to a few days for post-surgical care. The length of their stay will depend on their health as well as a few other factors determined by your veterinarian.

Phase 1

The first few days after your pet's surgery will be focused on pain management with prescribed veterinary medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Your cat will need to have their activity restricted by either keeping them comfortably enclosed in a crate or confining them to a small room where they aren't able to jump or run. This is for their own good, as too many sudden or vigorous movements on the healing limb could have massively negative impacts on their mobility.

If your pet is not in too much pain, your vet may recommend passive range of motion exercises to encourage your cat's hip joint to move through its natural range of motion once again.

Phase 2

About one week after surgery, the second recovery phase involves gradually increasing your cat's physical activity to begin strengthening their joint.

This phase is important, as it prevents the scar tissue from getting too stiff and will improve your cat's long-term mobility. Your vet will advise you on what appropriate exercises for your cat might be.

Most cats recover completely within about 6 weeks of the surgery. If your cat hasn't fully recovered by this time, they may need more recovery management options like physical therapy or rehabilitation to ensure a successful recovery.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. Always follow your doctor's advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms.

If your cat is experiencing a painful hip condition contact our Benicia vets right away to learn how to have your feline friend seen by our veterinary surgeon.

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Animal Clinic of Benicia is accepting new patients! Our skilled vets are passionate about the health of Benicia companion animals. Contact us today to book your pet's first appointment.

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