Skeleton diseases in cats can severely cripple your pet, limit their muscular movements, inhibit the production of red blood cells, and also inhibit the ability of your cat to store fat. There are several causes of this disease in your pet but by far and away the largest group of causes will be from a nutritional deficiency.
Your cat’s skeletal design is quite similar to that of a human but with two very distinctive differences; your cat’s spine contains several more bones than a human spine, primarily to support their tail, and their vertebrae are not as tightly connected, which makes it much more flexible than human vertebrae. They also have no collarbone.
These features are what enable your cat to arch their back the way they do and to maneuver into very small spots by twisting their body in unique angles. It is made up of bones in the limbs, skull, spine, ribs and the sternum. It also has bones that help to form certain organs, such as the ear.
These bones will vary in size depending on the breed of your cat. But whatever the size of the cat is, the skeleton and the bones that make it up are absolutely critical to the overall health of your cat. These bones serve several important functions in their body.
They support the body and give it strength and durability, as well as servicing every level of their muscular actions. Bones also serve as a storage unit for several important elements with the most critical being calcium and phosphorus. In a healthy and well nourished cat bones also store fat in their system and they can pull from the bones in emergency situations.
But perhaps the most important function of the skeleton and bones is in production of red blood cells as well as several different white blood cells. Without this function, your cat will not survive. There are approximately 250 bones in the average cat.
Each of these bones contains several layers of tissue. The outside of your cat’s bones are covered with a fiber like membrane that is very rich in small blood vessels called capillaries which nourish your pet’s bones. The very firm dense outer layer of the bone is called the cortical bone which makes up over 80 percent of your cats skeleton and handles most of their weight.
The inner part of the bone is called the cancellous bone and has a very spongy like structure almost resembling a honeycomb. It makes up the remaining 20 percent and it is this bone mass that gives the skeleton its strength.
Your cat’s bones also contain marrow, which is a yellow color in the areas of your cat made of mostly all fat, and red in the areas where their red and white blood cells are produced. These bones and the skeleton operate at full capacity until they are attacked by a disease. There are three distinctive types of diseases or disorders that will attack your cat: Congenital, Osteomyelitis, and Nutritional.
Types of Disease or Disorder:
Congenital diseases or disorders can occur in cats but they are very uncommon. Siamese cats may be affected by a genetic defect in their metabolism that can cause both a broad flat face and lameness in their hind legs.
Osteomyelitis disorders are inflammations of the bone that is caused by a bacterial infection, but some fungi can also cause infections.
These infections reach your cats bones by traveling through the bloodstream or by spreading form nearby tissue that have become infected. Bacterial infections are also rare, but when they do occur they primarily affect the legs and the spine of your pet.
Nutritional disorders are by far and away the biggest threat for skeleton diseases in cats and the most common form is Rickets. Calcium, phosphorus, and Vitamin D are critical to your pet’s skeleton as well as their bones. Calcium and phosphorus must be in a balance in your cat’s skeleton to function properly.
Cats are generally not deficient of phosphorus but they are almost always deficient of calcium which is essential in maintaining both the cortical bones as well as the cancellous bones. It also plays an extremely important role in maintaining the muscle structure in your cat.
Vitamin D activates and controls both calcium and phosphorus in your pet. If the blood levels of these minerals become too low, your cat’s body produces a hormone that causes both to be released from the bones. When this happens, the bones become soft and as a result, your cat develops Rickets.
Rickets can cause lameness, primarily in your pets back legs, as well as deformed bones that can very easily become fractured. This disease is most common in younger cats that are fed an all meat diet. Calcium should be supplemented in 500mg doses for every 1000 mg of meat that is fed.
The best form of Vitamin D supplement will be one daily recommended dose of a liquid capsule or from one teaspoon full of cod liver oil in your cat’s food. Cod liver oil is an excellent source of Vitamin D, especially if your cat in an indoor cat, as exposure to sunlight is also a very good source of Vitamin D.
If your cat has any type of kidney disease, it will also affect their skeleton as it depletes both the supply of phosphors and Vitamin D.
There is one other potential nutritional disorder that can affect your cat’s skeleton. If you feed your pet a diet that is almost all liver and milk based this will cause an excessive amount of Vitamin A to enter into your cat’s skeleton and spread to their bones. An excessive of Vitamin A will have the exact same result as a deficiency of
Skeleton diseases in cats can also inhibit your pet’s ability to produce red blood cells which can lead to anemia. Acute anemia can very quickly take your pets life. If you keep the proper ratio of Calcium to phosphorus in your cat to 1.2:1.0, and give them one teaspoon of cod liver oil daily, it could prevent any problems of your cat ever developing this type of disease.
I am an avid lover of pets and my wife and I have had several pets throughout our years. We are especially fond of dogs, and we have a 12 year old Dalmatian (our 3rd) and a “mutt” that we rescued when someone threw him away to die in a vacant field.