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PandEcats

The Premier Online Magazine
devoted to Persian & Exotic Shorthair Cats

Search
Close this search box.

PandEcats

The Premier Online Magazine devoted
to Persian & Exotic Shorthair Cats

Search
Close this search box.

Treatment For A Kitten Born With Twisted Legs

Contracted tendons is a condition, not a deformity. However, if left untreated, it can develop into a permanent disability.

First Things First

If you have a kitten born with twisted legs, don’t panic.

Make sure the kitten can pull itself into position to nurse. Occasionally the twisted legs prevent a kitten from competing with its littermates to reach and attach to the mother’s nipple. If the kitten is having problems nursing, you may need to hold the kitten in position so it can suckle without being pushed aside by its littermates. You may even need to supplement it with hand feeding.

Once you know the kitten is nursing well, you can turn your attention to helping the leg “untwist”. To do this, you will need to give the kitten Stretching & Flexing Physiotherapy as described below.

Evaluating The Contracted Tendons

Before you begin the Stretching & Flexing Physiotherapy, take a close look at the kitten and determine exactly how the leg is twisted. Does it twist from the left? The right? Forward? Back? To help you evaluate the leg, we have collected images in the article Photos Of Kittens Born With Twisted Legs. Use the photos for comparison.

If you have a longhaired kitten, it may be difficult to tell exactly how the leg is twisted. Wet the fur, slicking the hair down the leg so you will be able to see the structure of the leg more easily.

Begin Physiotherapy Immediately Following Birth

As soon as you notice the newborn kitten has twisted legs, begin the Stretching & Flexing Exercises described below. Newborn kittens are growing very fast so the opportunity to stretch the shorted tendon and correct the leg’s position is the most favorable in the first few weeks of life.

Newborn with severely contracted front legs.

Step One: Warming And Massage

Before beginning the kitten’s physiotherapy exercises, it helps to warm the muscles and tendons of the affected limb. Warming helps prepare the tendon to be stretched, and eases the muscles that have locked the leg into the wrong position.

There are several ways of warming the leg:

  • Apply a heating pad.
  • Use a hair dryer set on medium or hot temperature and low volume to direct warm air on the leg.
  • You can use a warm compress by heating a moistened cloth in the microwave and wrapping it around the leg. This will lose heat fairly quickly so have a second cloth ready and keep replacing it with a warm one.
  • You can even immerse the leg into water as hot as you can stand it for a few minutes. The stretching & flexing exercises can be performed with the kitten still in the hot water or remove the kitten from the water and blow hot air on the leg until dry.
The kitten’s back legs are wrapped in a heating pad before beginning the stretching exercises.

Once the leg has been warmed, begin a gentle massage up and down its length. This combined with the warming will prepare the leg for the most important stage of the therapy — stretching and flexing.

Step Two: Stretching & Flexing — The Most Critical Part Of The Treatment

Repeated stretching and bending of the leg joints is the most important part of correcting a twisted leg.

  • Before starting to stretch the twisted part of the leg, stabilize the leg above the joint where the twist begins:
    • If only the paw is curled under, support the leg just above the paw.
    • If the front leg twists from the “wrist” hold the leg between the cat’s body and the wrist.
    • If the hind leg is twisted from the hock, stabilize the leg by holding it firmly over the stifle joint between the body and the point of the hock.
  • With the normal part of the leg now stabilized, use your other hand to stretch the twisted part of the leg as far towards the normal position as you can, untwisting it as you go if necessary.
  • The leg will resist the movement but you need to keep pushing it past where it wants to stop.
  • When the leg is stretched as far as you can get it to go—hold it for a few beats—then let the leg relax.
  • Continue to repeat the stretching & flexing routine for about 5 minutes per session.
  • Conduct 3-10 sessions per day, every day. The more often you do the exercises, the better.
  • Stretching and flexing the limb towards a normal position helps the short tendons lengthen and become more pliable.
  • If exercising the limb in this manner is working, you should see slight improvement in the leg’s alignment and flexibility within a few days. Progress should be fairly quick if the physio is working.
  • As the leg approaches proper alignment, bend each joint (hip, stifle, hock, paw) fully open and closed one at a time.

Stretching the tendon may hurt. Or the kitten may just object to being handled. if the kitten cries or resists, you have to ignore it. A bit of discomfort is a small price to pay for being normal and healthy in a few weeks.

If the mother cat is upset by the kitten’s cries, take the kitten into another room to perform its physiotherapy.

Prognosis

If treatment is started within a day or two of birth, there is an excellent chance that the condition can be rectified by physiotherapy  before the kitten begins to walk around 5 weeks.

If you don’t see improvement within a few days of starting treatment, you need to increase the intensity and number of times/day that you are doing the warming-massage-stretching-flexing exercises. Push harder!

Bracing

It is not recommended to brace a newborn, or a kitten before it is walking because the weight of the brace will prevent the kitten from pulling its legs under itself. It will just drag the braces.

Once the kitten begins walking, if the leg cannot bear the kitten’s weight without collapsing, it will need to be braced.

The longer the elapsed time between birth and the start of treatment of a twisted leg, the less likely it is that the kitten will fully recover fully as the muscles & joints will not have developed normally.

This seven week old kitten had received no treatment for severely twisted hind legs. The kitten’s right leg twisted inwards while the left leg is twisted backwards. He is shown in the photo walking on the front of his stifles (often referred to as knees). But after he was fitted with braces his legs eventually straightened and he walked normally in 6 weeks.

Request A Custom Treatment Plan For Your Kitten 

If you have a kitten born with twisted legs and would like to receive a Custom Treatment Plan:

  • Click on Request For Custom Treatment Plan. This will take you to a form.
  • Fill out the form with details about your kitten. Be sure to add several large, sharp photos of your kitten’s legs to the form.
  • Click on Submit to send the completed form.
  • After you submit the Request Form, you will be taken to a page to make a minimum donation of $50 in US funds to help support our articles about treating kittens born with twisted legs.
  • You will be emailed a personalized Treatment Plan for your kitten within 24 hours.

Support Our Efforts to Help Kittens Born With Twisted Legs

We are dedicated to saving the live of these precious kittens born with twisted legs. They can grow up to lead perfectly normal lives if given proper physiotherapy in a timely manner. Too often veterinarians mistakenly think the kitten has a permanent deformity and recommend that the newborn baby be put down.

Please print out this article and share it with your veterinarian.

You are also encouraged to support our publishing more articles to help these kittens by making a donation. You can be part of helping these unfortunate newborns to overcome their rocky beginnings and to grow up to be healthy, strong felines.

Article copyright © PandEcats.com. All Rights Reserved. Photos copyrighted by the individual photographers.
Copying or redistribution of this article is strictly prohibited without the express written permission of PandEcats.com.

“If a dog jumps into your lap it is because he is fond of you; but if a cat does the same thing it is because your lap is warmer.”
* Author A.N. Whitehead (Mathematician & Philosopher)

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