Symptoms of a Broken Rib in Cats

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Do your kitten's ribs feel weird? If your cat has a broken rib, you might notice symptoms like swelling, difficulty walking, and obvious pain when the area is touched. It's important to keep an eye on injuries like these so your vet can treat the broken rib as well as any additional complications that might occur.

Give your cat a quiet place to rest while he recovers from rib injuries.
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You can feel a cat's ribs by gently feeling along the cat's side and back. You should be able to feel the ribs, but the ribs should not stick out. If your kitten's ribs feel weird or you notice a cat rib sticking out, your cat might have sustained a broken rib.

Causes of a broken rib in cats

A broken rib in cats is often caused by a fall. If you observe your cat take a hard tumble, keep an eye on him for a few days to make sure he doesn't show any symptoms of a broken rib or other injury. It might take several days for your cat to begin exhibiting symptoms.

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Broken ribs in cats can also be caused by dog bites or impalement (falling on a sharp object). Being hit by a car could cause a broken rib as well.

Symptoms and complications of a broken rib

If your cat has a broken rib, she will moan, cry, or growl when the rib is touched. She might have trouble walking or grooming herself. The injured area could be swelling or bruised as well. If the injury is a compound fracture, the broken bone might poke through the skin.

If your cat spends a lot of time outdoors, he may sustain a broken rib from a dog bite or from being hit by a car.
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Additional complications of a broken rib include a punctured or collapsed lung. If a cat fractures several consecutive ribs, this is called a flail chest. It is a severe problem that affects the entire chest and is normally accompanied by pulmonary contusions (bruised lungs), pneumothorax (collapsed lung), and subcutaneous emphysema (air getting into tissues under the skin).

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Treatment for a broken rib

If your cat has a broken rib, make sure he stays still. Movement might cause lung puncture. Any wound with a broken bone protruding from it should be washed with clean water, covered, and then examined by a veterinarian.

Any cat who is having trouble breathing (look for panting) should be immediately taken to the vet. Be very careful transporting a cat with a broken rib. Handle the cat gently and avoid the rib area as you place him in the carrier.

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Your veterinarian will examine your cat and assess the broken rib, taking X-rays if necessary. The vet will administer pain medication if needed. Any complications from the broken rib will be treated as well.

An X-ray can show the extent of your cat's injury.
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Healing a broken rib

If your cat has only a broken rib with no other complications, treatment is simple — just restrict your pet's exercise for several weeks to allow the rib to heal. With worse injuries, it might be necessary for your vet to surgically repair the fractures. A flail chest will have to be stabilized with a splint.

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You can prevent broken ribs by keeping your cat inside so she doesn't get hit by a car or get in a fight with another animal. Encourage her to stay off high surfaces so she doesn't take a bad fall.

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