If your cat has suffered a broken leg, take her in for immediate veterinary treatment. However, it if the fracture occurs on one of the lower leg bones, protect the affected limb by attaching a splint to it, before hopping in the car. Because it may cause further harm, avoid splinting fractures of the upper leg bones. A splint, which is composed of some cushioned material, a semirigid or rigid brace and a bandage to keep it steady, helps to protect the leg and prevent the injury from worsening.
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Healing a Broken Leg
Splints do not help broken legs heal -- your veterinarian will need to set the bone to promote healing. After aligning the broken pieces of bone, your vet usually will place a cast around the limb to keep the bone fragments from separating or shifting. During the next several weeks or months, the bone will heal, ultimately allowing the cast to be removed. Never try to set a broken bone yourself, as this can cause your pet a great deal of pain and further damage to the bone.
As soon as you see your cat's leg is injured, pick her up gently. Reassure her while cradling her gently in your arms, taking care not to hurt the injured limb. Have a helper locate the necessary supplies to apply the splint, but place a sterile bandage over any bleeding wounds before proceeding.
Cotton material, towels or clothing can cushion the affected limb, while sticks, kitchen utensils, rolled up newspaper, magazines or cardboard make good braces; anything rigid and of an appropriate size will work. A medical bandage is the perfect supply for tying a splint to your pet's leg, but you can use gauze, rope, string, scarves, or torn towels in a pinch. Anything you can use to tie the splint to the leg will work.
Attaching the Splint
Enlist a helper if possible, before attempting to put a splint on your animal's leg. With your cat still cradled in your arms, try to present the affected limb to your helper. Without directly moving or manipulating the leg, wrap the cushioning material around the leg. Bring the splint under the limb to provide support. Gently wrap the bandage around the limb and tie it in place. The bandage should be firm, but not so tight that it disrupts blood flow or causes additional discomfort.
Observe and Monitor
Understandably, injured cats are often frightened, anxious and in pain. This can cause them to try to lick their leg or remove the splint. Accordingly, it is important to monitor your cat while traveling to the vet, to ensure she does not cause herself further injury or remove the splint. This is another reason that it is helpful to have a partner -- who can drive while you hold your cat -- assist you in caring for an injured pet. Do not allow your cat to lick, chew or paw at the splint or injured appendage.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.