We found out the hard way that cats get hurt when they fall, contrary to the myth that they do not. Fuzzy was sunning in an open window of our second floor apartment and fell out and broke her leg. We expected to bring her home from the veterinarian’s office in a cast, but instead she has a pin and two wires and no bandage or cast at all. Will she always have the pin and will she be able to walk like a normal cat?
Cats can be injured just like any other animal when they fall. Fuzzy is lucky your apartment is on the second floor and not way up in a high rise.
She is lucky she broke her leg today and not several years ago when a cast was the best therapy available-- casts were sometimes more hazard than help as the cat was unstable when walking.
For large bones such as the femur (thigh bone) and tibia/fibula (the bones connecting the knee joint and ankle), we now use surgery. It is much more effective in mending these bones than splints or casts.
In cats, we usually align the fractured bone and insert one or more pins from one end to the other through the core of the bone. In the femur, for example, we would run a pin or pins from near the hip to the cortex (end) at the knee joint. The bone ends are solid so they anchor the pins and keep the fracture site from moving. Stabilizing the fracture is vital to healing. If the break is at an angle or if it has left small bone fragments, wire will be used to wrap the bone and fragments so nothing can move.
If this was the extent of Fuzzy’s surgery, I imagine she was up and walking with only a slight limp the next day. In a couple weeks even the limp should be gone. Within six to eight weeks, she should be healed to the point where the pin and wires can be removed. Rather quickly she should be back to full activity without a sign of a problem. Young cats, incidentally, generally heal quicker than older ones.
In a few cases, a fracture will be so severe that pins and wires will not stabilize the break. In this situation, a plate -- a long flat piece of metal -- is screwed to the bone along its length. Although this procedure is not often required for cats, it is necessary if the injury is one in which there are multiple fractures of the same bone.