FHO Cat Hip Surgery

A relatively inexpensive and effective treatment option for cats that have painful hip issues is FHO surgery (femoral head ostectomy). Here, our Cave Creek vets explain what FHO surgery is and discuss the recovery process for cats following this procedure.

Common Causes of Cat Hip Problems

Is your cat experiencing a painful hip problem? If so, it could be caused by a combination of genetic predisposition, old age, and injury. A few of the most common cat hip problems are:

  • Hip luxation or dislocation, often associated with serious dysplasia is commonly treated with FHO surgery.
  • Hip fractures that can't be repaired surgically due to the health of the patient or the means of their owner.
  • Legg-Perthes disease is another condition that could impact the joints of your cat. This condition can be characterized by a lack of blood flow to the top of the femur, leading to the spontaneous degeneration of the head of the femur, causing hip damage or/and arthritis.

These issues are fairly common in cats and could lead to pain and mobility issues. To help your cat have comfortable mobility again your vet may suggest orthopedic surgery.

A Cat's Normal Hip Function

Your cat's hip joint operates 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 work together allowing 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 due to 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.

Vets often recommend this procedure for cats, especially for those who are fit. The muscle mass around the joints of active cats helps them recover faster. Although, any cat who has good health can have FHO surgery to relieve their hip pain.

Signs & Symptoms of Hip Problems in Cats

Your kitty could be suffering from a hip issue if they are exhibiting one or more of these symptoms:

  • Limping when walking
  • Increased stiffness and reduced range of motion
  • Difficulty jumping
  • Muscle loss around their back limbs
  • Irritability

FHO Surgery for Cats

As part of 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.

The Cost of FHO Surgery for Cats

Often, cat FHO surgery can be a fairly inexpensive procedure that can often help restore your feline companion's pain-free mobility. Only your vet will be able to provide you with an accurate estimate for the cost of your cat's FHO surgery because the total amount will be dependent on various factors such as the severity of your cat's problem, where your vet is located, and your kitty's overall health. Contact your vet to get a detailed estimate on the cost of your cat's FHO surgery.

How Cats Recover After FHO Surgery 

The recovery times are different for each cat after FHO surgery. 

Following FHO you can expect your cat to stay in the hospital for post-operative veterinary care for anywhere between several hours to several days. The duration of your cat's hospital stay after their surgery will depend on their health and other factors that could impact their overall recovery. Prior to your cat's surgery, your vet will give you details on how long they expect your cat will need to stay in the hospital following their FHO procedure.

Phase 1 of Cat FHO Recovery

In the days immediately following your cat's FHO, the primary focus will be on pain management which can include medications such as prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Your kitty's activity will need to be strictly restricted, either by keeping them comfortably enclosed in a crate or by confining them to a very small room where they aren't able to jump or run.

If the pain your pet is feeling is minimal, your vet might recommend, passive range of motion exercises to motivate your cat's hip joint to start moving through its natural range of motion.

Phase 2 of Cat FHO Recovery

Phase 2 of your cat's FHO recovery process will begin about a week following surgery. At that time your kitty's level of physical activity can be gradually increased in order to begin strengthening the hip joint.

This gradual period of increased movement will help prevent the scar tissue from getting too stiff and will help improve your cat's long-term mobility. Your vet will provide you with instructions on how you need to care for your cat during this time, and the activities they recommend.

Cat FHO Full Recovery

The majority of cats will recover completely from their FHO surgery within approximately 6 weeks. If your kitty hasn't fully recovered by this time, your vet might suggest physical rehabilitation (physical therapy) to make sure your cat gets to enjoy the best results possible from their FHO procedure.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your cat is suffering from hip problems, FHO surgery might be an option for them. Contact our Cave Creek vets today to schedule your kitty's examination.