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Brittle Bone Disease in Felines

Updated July 19, 2017

Brittle bone disease results when calcium is not laid down properly in growing bones making them fragile and prone to fractures. It occurs due to a genetic condition or poor diet and is seen only in kittens.

True Brittle Bone Disease

True brittle bone disease--also known as osteogenesis imperfecta--is an inherited disease of kittens that leads to insufficient calcium being deposited in growing bones despite being fed an appropriate diet.

Signs

Your kitten will usually grow slowly, be reluctant to move, appear to be in pain and may possibly have deformed limbs as the result of bone fractures. In addition, the whites of the eyes may appear blue, the teeth translucent and the skin thin.

Diagnosis

Your veterinarian will take X-rays that will show a pale skeleton rather than normal dense bones and often evidence of abnormal bones and fractures. He will check the blood calcium and phosphorus levels to rule out any dietary deficiencies.

Treatment

Affected kittens can be given bonemeal with their food to help the skeleton lay down more calcium and drugs to help with the pain but sadly most kittens are eventually euthanized.

Nutritional Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis or thin fragile bones may be seen if your kitten has been fed an all-meat diet with no vitamin or mineral supplementation. This is an entirely separate condition to the inherited brittle bone disease. Your kitten will make a rapid recovery if fed a commercial kitten food; there is no need for additional supplements.

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About the Author

Kata Logan graduated as a veterinarian from Glasgow University in 1987. She has worked in general practice since then and written pet-care articles for her local Oxfordshire press since 1993. Raised in the hotel business, Logan also has more than 40 years of catering experience, providing a great resource for her articles on food, diet and health.