Why did my cat walk on his wrists when he was a kitten?

by Kate
(California)

When my cat was a kitten, his two front paws were turned in (one turned left, the other right, inward) at the wrists. I took him to the vet, and they said it was just a vitamin deficiency he suffered from when he was stray, and over time they will straighten themselves out. Well they did, but now his back legs seem to be turned in, too. I'm wondering: are these two incidences related, why has it moved to his back legs, can I do anything about this, and is this common?

RESPONSE:

First let me say congratulations for rescuing a stray. Secondly, too often these poor little critters have struggled for survival and haven't obtained the critical vitamins so necessary for proper bone development.

Now that you are making sure your cat has a proper diet you've seen his front paws become more normal but I don't believe his back leg condition is as new as you think...you may have just recently noticed it...but it has probably existed for a while.

Coty, one of my 6 cats, is a stray I took in when she was around 6 months old and pregnant. I've always kidded that she's my "rickets cat" because during her early life she obviously had a deficiency of phosphorus (an important mineral and a major part of bone along with calcium)and vitamin D (needed for the absorption of minerals). Insufficient sunlight would also prevent the animal from making their own vitamin D.

The result of these deficiencies is that the cartilage that forms a kitten's skeleton does not calcify properly so the bone does not become rigid and doesn't develop normally. The weight bearing movement of walking causes a bending deformity of the bones.

The bones finish growing between 6 and 9 months of age in cats and good nutrition will correct the deformity if its caught before the growth cycle ends. After that it is corrected only by surgery.

However, although our Coty has slightly bowed rear legs, she has no pain, jumps very well and is perfectly normal except in appearance. She is now 7 years old and very healthy and active. So, I don't think you have any major concerns with your cat. But if the condition becomes more pronounced then it could be caused by something else and a visit to your vet would be advisable.

Good luck to you and your little guy.

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