Hip dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is the name given to an abnormality of the development of the hip (coxofemoral) joint(s). If these joints fail to form properly there may be increased laxity and abnormal movement of the joint, and over time this can result in the development of degeneration of the joint and painful osteoarthritis.

Hip dysplasia is recognised commonly in some breeds of dogs and where it is known to have a strong heritable component (but is not caused by a simple, single-gene defect). Hip dysplasia also occurs in cats, although less is known about the problem in this species.

What cats are affected by hip dysplasia?

As in the dog, hip dysplasia in cats is assumed to result from a combination of genetic (several genes are likely to be involved) along with environmental, dietary and lifestyle factors. In some cats, hip dysplasia will not cause any obvious disease, but in others, especially if more severely affected, over time significant and painful arthritis may develop. In some cats, hip dysplasia is seen along with patellar luxation (where the ‘knee caps’ slip out of place).

Hip dysplasia can be seen in any breed of cat, but it is seen more commonly in the:

  • Maine coon
  • Persian
  • Himalayan

Other breeds may also be predisposed including Siamese, Bengal, Devon Rex and Abyssinian cats.

Controlling hip dysplasia

Unfortunately, because this is not a simple genetic disease, a gene test is not available to identify cats at risk. However, X-rays can be taken to assess the conformation of the hip joints and the degree of joint laxity and this is recommended in breeds at significant risk before cats are used in a breeding programme.