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devoted to Persian & Exotic Shorthair Cats

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The Premier Online Magazine devoted
to Persian & Exotic Shorthair Cats

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When A Kitten’s Twisted Legs Are Not Contracted Tendons

Occasionally a kitten is born with one or more legs that appear “twisted” or deformed. Most often, the cause of the abnormality is contracted tendons that are the result of crowding or poor placement of the kitten in its amniotic sac while growing within the uterus of its mother.

But not all twisted legs on newborn kittens are due to contracted tendons. Other conditions can also cause twisted legs. If the condition is not caused by contracted tendons, it may not be able to be corrected by simple physiotherapy. It may require surgery, or it may not be fixable at all.

How do you know whether a kitten born with twisted legs has contracted tendons? How do you know if the leg problem is due to something else entirely?

Signs That Twisted Legs May Not Be Due To Contracted Tendons

There are some physical signs you can look for that can suggest that twisted legs on a kitten may not be due to contracted tendons. Here are things to look for:

  • Foreshortened Front Legs:
    If the front legs of the newborn kitten appear shorter than its back legs (or vice versa), the problem is probably not due to contracted tendons.
  • The Twisted Legs Are Limp:
    When a kitten has contracted tendons, the legs are usually stiff. If the legs are limp, it is probably not a case of contracted tendons.
  • Easy Joint Movement:
    If the leg moves freely at the joints, it is not a case of contracted tendons.
  • The Leg Has No Feeling:
    Pinch the kitten’s paw and watch for a reaction. If there is no response, the kitten may have no feeling in the leg. It does not have contracted tendons.
  • Muscles Do Not Respond:
    Push against the leg. Does the leg resist and try to push back (even just a little)? Pull the leg. Can you feel the kitten pulling against you? If the kitten seems to have no ability to use its muscles, it MAY OR MAY NOT be suffering from contracted tendons.
  • A Missing Tail:
    If the kitten’s back legs are twisted AND it is missing its tail, the twisted legs MAY OR MAY NOT be due to contracted tendons.
  • Incontinence:
    Kittens with contracted tendons (even of the hind legs) do not suffer from incontinence, although they may soil themselves if they cannot squat properly to poop. If the kitten cannot seem to control its peeing and pooping, something else is wrong other than contracted tendons.

Other Causes of Leg Deformities

Contracted tendons should not be confused with other causes of leg deformities in kittens. Other conditions that can produce twisted or deformed legs include:

  • Radial Hypoplasia (RH): 
    Radial Hypoplasia is a genetic mutation of the front legs that can appear similar to contracted tendons in a newborn. RH is a permanent condition that cannot be corrected. Diagnosis is confirmed by x-ray. The characteristics of a kitten afflicted with RH include:
    • Short forelegs
    • The foreleg has a short or missing radius bone (seen on X-ray)
    • The ulna bone in the foreleg may be twisted or thickened. It thickens or twists to compensate for the missing radius bone.
    • Extra front toes
  • Missing Tail & Twisted or Small Hindlegs: 
    If a kitten is born without a tail and has twisted hindlegs, it is may be due to a developmental or spinal abnormality.
  • Dwarfism: 
    Dwarfism is a genetic mutation in which the leg bones do not grow to the normal size, based on what is expected of the breed. The result is abnormally short limbs. In some breeds, such as the Munchkin breed, the trait is selectively bred for and is the defining characteristic of the breed.
  • Spinal Deformity: 
    Some spinal deformities are evident at birth while some only show symptoms as the kitten grows older. Signs of a possible spinal deformity is a weakness in the hind limbs.

Final Thoughts

Most kittens born with twisted legs have contracted tendons. If you are unsure of the cause of your kitten’s twisted legs, be sure to take it to your veterinarian for x-rays and a professional opinion.

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.
  • 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. 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.

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“Like all pure creatures, cats are practical.”
*William S. Burroughs (author, The Naked Lunch)