The pelvis is a ring-like structure of bones located at the lower end of the trunk. It consists of two halves, each one containing three bones, the ilium, ischium, and pubis.
A broken pelvis is the second most common bone breakage to occur in cats. They are typically the result of a motor vehicle accident or a fall from a building. Despite the severity of a broken pelvis, the chance of recovery, if there is no other internal damage is very good.
What are the symptoms of a broken pelvis in cats?
If you suspect your cat has been hit by a car, he should be taken to a veterinarian immediately. Common symptoms you may see include:
Your cat may or may not be able to walk. When our cat broke his pelvis, he was able to run away, despite being in a great amount of pain and with a severely damaged pelvis (see x-ray).
He may also have torn/ripped claws, from gripping at the ground (if hit by a car)
There may be external injuries such as cuts and abrasions.
How is a broken pelvis diagnosed?
If you suspect your cat has been injured and may have a broken pelvis, take extreme care when handling him. He will need to be kept as still as possible to avoid further injury. He will need to be put in a cat carrier and taken to the vet immediately.
Your veterinarian may be able to feel the break during the physical examination, however, diagnosis is made by x-ray.
He may also wish to perform chest x-rays to check for injuries.
How is a broken pelvis treated?
Treatment of a broken pelvis depends on the severity of the injury. A minor break may be left to heal itself, however, a major breakage will require surgery and possibly pins, plates, screws or wires to realign the pelvis. Your vet may choose to wait a day or so to allow any swelling to go down prior to the surgery.
Painkillers may be administered before and after surgery to help with discomfort.
Your cat will not be discharged from the vet until he can go to the toilet on his own. Our cat was released from hospital one week after his accident and then placed on cage rest for a further six weeks.
Treatment for any other injuries such as soft tissue, damaged organs etc may also be necessary.
Regardless of the outcome, your cat will most likely need to be on cage rest for 6 weeks to allow the pelvis to heal and the bones to fuse. Obviously, this also has the benefit of preventing your cat from moving around and especially jumping up and down. A largish dog crate is perfect for this as it can accommodate the litter tray, food and water bowls and a cat bed. Make sure you have a low sided litter tray as moving around may be difficult in the early days. We used the lid from a cardboard box and cut out one side, lined it with a litter tray liner and filled it with litter. I have a very active cat who had to be put on cage rest for 6 weeks and he coped remarkably well.
It is important to keep a close watch on your cat’s toileting habits while he is recovering and ensure he is having frequent bowel movements and urinating. If he stops going to the toilet, veterinary attention must be sought.
Long term outcome:
The outcome for cats with a broken pelvis is generally very good. Long-term problems may include persistent lameness and arthritis of the hip joint in later years. Our cat has made an almost full recovery, he is a little wobbly at the back end, but it doesn’t appear to have affected him a great deal.
If the injured cat is an entire female, it may be in her best interests to have her spayed as pelvic fractures can lead to a narrowing of the birth canal.