Many of our cats like to explore the world outside, but unfortunately cars pose a danger to our feline friends. Joey was one such unlucky cat. His owners returned to find him unable to walk normally and rushed him to our Paignton surgery. After examining him we suspected an injury to his pelvis.
X-rays confirmed that Joey had broken his pelvis in two places, one injury was sacroiliac luxation (an injury at the point where the spine and the pelvis join together) and the other injury was on the other side of his pelvis where he had a fracture straight through the left hand side of his pelvis so it was in two pieces. There are many issues with a fractured pelvis. The instability every time he moved would be extremely painful, and if a cat injures their sacroiliac joints or breaks their pelvis in to two (Joey did both of these) there is a risk of nerve damage due to major nerves running in this area. Another serious issue can result if the pelvis fragments become displaced and out of their normal position – this can cause problems for the bowel which runs through the pelvis. If this space is narrowed it can lead to difficulties passing faeces for life. Joey, on top of the pain he was in, was at risk of nerve damage and also having his bowel compressed.
The best method to treat Joey’s pelvis was to perform orthopaedic surgery to re-align his spine and pelvis, stabilise his pelvis and prevent his bowel being compressed, all of which would make Joey a lot more comfortable. Here at Greenbay Vets Dr John Mather is a recognised RCVS advanced practitioner who has undertaken further surgical training and so is able to perform this complicated surgery at our Torquay surgery. John is passionate about operating to the highest standards, so we have invested in the best tools for the job. The first part of the surgery involved placing a special screw to re-align the spine and the pelvis- this is very complicated due to the close proximity of the spinal cord; careful measurements are necessary to place the screw correctly. The second part of the surgery involved placing two orthopaedic plates, that had been specially moulded to Joey’s pelvis, to realign and stabilise the two pieces of the left side of Joey’s pelvis.
The recovery period for any fractured bone involves a rest period of 4-8 weeks. Bone will regrow across the fracture if it is kept stable enough. In human medicine we can ask the person not to weight bare on the area or to move as little as possible. With our pets it’s up to us to enforce this rest period and this involves cage rest to limit movement. This is always a difficult period for any owner but if the fractured bone is allowed to move the healing process can not happen and even worse injuries and further fractures can happen. Joey’s owners were very sensible and kept him rested until we repeated the x-rays after 7 weeks and we are very pleased to say that Joey’s pelvis has responded very well and he should make a complete recovery.
This type of injury can happen to any cat with outdoor access, and is very expensive to treat appropriately. Treating injuries as a result of car accidents is normally covered on pet insurance, so do consider getting your cat covered (please check the T&C of your own policy as some differ).
Samantha Pryor, Vet at Greenbay Vets