What Is A Cow-Hocked Cat

What is a Cow-Hocked Cat?

A cow-hocked cat, also known as “x-legs”, is a sound cat that has a condition that affects the hind legs. Cow hocks refer to a misalignment in the back leg joints, which makes the knees and feet point outwards.

It is easy to spot a cow-hocked cat when it walks. There are many levels of severity from mild misalignment up to legs with an X shape. It is difficult to spot a cow-hocked cat in a show, where cats usually stand. This deformity often goes unnoticed.

Cow-hocked cats have a condition where their hind legs bend toward one another so that the cat’s hind legs look like a cow’s. This condition is also known as “x-legs”.

How do you know if your cat is cow-hocked?

It is easy to spot cow-hocks in cats. The hind legs of a cat should be straight from the top to bottom, and the hind feet should point forward. However, it is possible to see cow-hocks from both the sides and the front with a trained eye.

Check the curves of your cat’s legs and the feet. You will notice outward-facing paws and inward-facing heels.

Symptoms of Cow Hocked Cat

Cow-hocked cats have the most obvious sign: their legs bowing. Cow-hocking is most evident in cats with cow-hocked hind legs that are angled inward and feet that are splayed outward. The symptoms can become more severe if there is a combination cow-hock and sicklehock (ankles that are rounded rather than straight).

  • Your cat may develop early-onset arthritis, which can cause it to become difficult to walk.
  • Incapacity to adequately defend against predators
  • Spinal injury

Are Cow-Hocks In Cats Dangerous?

This is an inheritable condition that should be avoided. It can cause health problems in the long-term depending on how severe the deformity is. This can cause additional stress and pain to the hips and spine of the cat, which could lead to arthritis or spinal problems in the long-term. The condition can be irreversible and very painful for cats. The majority of treatments focus on the management of the pain and stress, rather than the cure. This is to ensure the cat has the best quality life possible.

It can also stress the cat’s spine and legs.

Cow-hocked cats may have more problems with arthritis and spinal pain. They may also not be able defend themselves against predators.

Many cow-hocked cats suffering from arthritis have swollen and painful joints. These cats may have difficulty standing, walking, and jumping. Although your cat may initially have a slight limp, it could eventually become permanent lameness.

How to Fix a Cow-Hocked Cat

A cow-hocked cat cannot be fixed. A cow-hock is a genetic abnormality that can’t be treated with medication. There are medications that vets can offer older cow-hocked cats suffering from arthritis.

Although there is a treatment that can be used to treat cow-hocked cats, it is not possible to straighten the legs of a cat.

The genetic cow-hocked condition of cats is not curable. Some medications are prescribed by veterinarians for cow-hocked cats as they age, especially if they have a history of heart disease.

Are All Breeds Cow-Hockedable?

It is not possible to disprove or prove that all cat breeds are cow-hocked. There is also no evidence to support the assertion that certain breeds of cats are cow-hocked more than others. It is obvious that more research and scientific studies are needed.

People generally discourage breeding cats with cow-hocked legs. Although it is unlikely that the gene will be passed on to the litter, there are some possibilities. Breeders who choose to breed cow-hocked cats will pass on the genetic defect and gene to their littermates. There is also the possibility of the deformity becoming dormant after a few litters, and then reemerging in later litters.

Is it possible to breed cow hocks in cats?

Cats with cow hocks are almost always genetic. It is best to not breed affected cats as they are more likely to pass the condition onto their offspring.

Some cow-hocked cats don’t seem to have many problems, but some cases can be extremely severe and debilitating.

Can Cow Hocks be Corrected

Cat hocks from cows cannot be corrected completely.

You may be tempted to help your cat by doing whatever you can. But cow hocks cannot be fixed.

Although there is a treatment that can be used to treat cow-hocked cats, it is not possible to straighten the legs of a cat.

Why do cats get cow hocks?

Cow-hocked cats inherit this genetic abnormality from their parents. This isn’t a condition that can be caused by poor diet or care. Cats that are cow-hocked are likely to be this way from birth. However, it might not be apparent until they get older.

All catteries can have cow-hocked kittens. Wild cats may also have them. However, wild wild cow-hocked cats are more likely to die than wild ones. To keep the breed line healthy, responsible breeders will spay or neuter any cats with any functional defect.

Do Cow-Hocked Cats Have Long Legs?

Some cat breeds, such as the Savannah, have longer back legs than their front legs. Their hind legs can appear to be cow-hocked, as their feet curve slightly inwardly.

Although they may have a different walking style than other breeds of cat, they will be fine unless a veterinarian diagnoses them as being cow-hocked.

How to help a cow-horsed cat

  • Belly Rub – Lay down on your back and rub your belly on your cat. The belly rub should help your cat shift their weight and strengthen their core muscles.
  • Watch out for signs of cow-hocked in your cat, such as inwardly curved hock joints or outward-facing feet.
  • You can stretch on the couch/chair by having your cat sit on the chair. Then, lift the front legs of your cat with your hands or a cushion. You should be able to get your cat to remain in this position for at most two minutes. This exercise should be repeated at least twice daily. This exercise helps improve rear leg weight-bearing/strength, range of motion, and hip extension.
  • Keep an eye out for any signs of difficulty walking or pain in your cat.
  • For a diagnosis and plan of action, consult a veterinarian.
  • Consider keeping your cat indoors, and having it spayed/neutered.
  • Rock on – Encourage your cat’s use of uneven surfaces like cushions, pillows, foam mats or balance trainers. To balance, your cat will shift their weight. This will help your cat to improve their coordination, flexibility, proprioception, and coordination.
  • As your cat ages, be aware of signs and symptoms of arthritis. Keep in touch with your vet for pain management.
  • To reduce the strain on their spines and joints, help your cat to maintain a healthy weight.


Cow-hocked cats may have arthritis or skeletal problems that can cause walking difficulties. This is an inheritable condition that cannot be corrected or cured, but can be treated to make your cat’s life easier.

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