Do Cats Have Knees?

Cats seem to be liquid most of the time, slipping through door frames and squeezing into vases, so it’s weird to think that they have bones and joints as we do.

Do cats have knees? Any other questions about cats and their anatomy will be covered in this article so keep reading!

Do Cats Have Knees?

Cats are classified as quadrupeds which means that they walk on four limbs, the two back legs being the hind legs and the front legs being the forelegs.

In their hind legs, cats have knees which are known as stifle joints in quadruped animals.

The knee joins three bones including the femur, tibia, and patella which is a small bone at the front of the knee that offers protection and connects muscles between the front of the thigh and the tibia.

Even though cats have knees, they have a few differences compared to ours.

Their knees are placed much higher up in their legs which means that most owners will actually be feeling what is on the top of the foot instead of the knee.

As you have probably already noticed, cats may have knees, but they move slightly differently to ours.

This is because cats walk on their toes much more than we do, making their hind foot extend all the way from the toes to the point of the hock which is the part where you see the leg bend backward.

Luxating Patella

Unfortunately, a condition known as luxating patella is a common issue that cats can get in regard to their knees.

This is when the kneecap is not able to stay in the right place, either by popping or moving out of position which can also lead to dislocation.

Cause Of Luxating Patella

The patellar ligament rests beneath the kneecap and connects the major thigh muscles to a location on the shin bone’s central front.

When the muscles in the thigh contract, the force is applied to the shinbone through the patellar ligament.

This causes the knee to extend or straighten which makes the patella move up and down in its groove, helping to maintain the patellar ligament in place.

The patella will slip out of the groove when the leg is extended if the groove is too shallow if the cat is bow-legged or if the attachment on the tibia is not in the center, the patella will luxate or fall out of the groove when the leg is extended.

The patella luxates most of the time because the trochlear groove is not deep enough, and the angle of luxation goes towards the inner of the leg, which is known as medial luxation.

This condition can affect any breed of cat but the Abyssinian cat and the Devon Rex may have a hereditary tendency to this condition.

Patellar luxation can develop as a result of damage to the muscles or bones of the rear leg in some cases.

Symptoms Of Luxating Patella

The symptoms of a cat suffering from luxating patella will likely be on and off.

This is because the knee will move in and out of position, so when it is in the right place the cat will still be able to run around and jump normally.

However, when the knee slips out of place, they will suddenly experience a lot of pain and discomfort, and you will notice that they cannot move nearly as much as they used to.

When your cat moves, you might be able to hear a popping or clicking sound as the knee moves in and out of position.

Otherwise, you may have to gently manipulate the leg yourself to hear the sound if you have suspicions that your cat has a luxating patella.

Sometimes, a cat can have a low-grade luxating patella which usually does not show any symptoms if at all.

It can be so unnoticeable to owners that a low-grade luxating patella is commonly diagnosed at a vet check-up as they test and feel every joint in the cat’s body.

This is why it is a good idea to take your pet for a check-up regularly.

Treatment Of Luxating Patella

If your cat is showing pain or discomfort with moving around, you should take them to the vet as soon as you can.

The degree of the luxating patella, as well as the cat’s age, clinical symptoms, and any other structural anomalies or traumas, all influence how it is treated.

Rest and anti-inflammatory medicine can be used to treat mild to moderate luxation, although the surgical correction is typically required for more severe instances such as for any cat that limps continuously or intermittently, has lameness that lasts more than one to four weeks.

If surgery is necessary, a veterinarian can perform a procedure to tighten the joint capsule and surrounding tissue to increase stability, which can be utilized to treat a luxating patella.

Other operations, known as tibial tuberosity transposition, may be performed to repair the patellar ligament.

Following surgery, the veterinarian would normally advise you to limit exercise for at least two weeks while promoting light activity.

If the luxation necessitates more invasive surgical repair, the doctor may advise waiting four to six weeks before exercising.

Luxating Patella Recovery

Recovery, like therapy, is determined by the degree of the luxating patella.

It normally consists of enough rest as well as pain and anti-inflammatory medicine, after which the cat should be able to regain full use of the limb.

There may be occasional pain in the leg if arthritis has already formed in the joint which can be managed with medication.

Keeping Your Cat’s Knees Healthy

Now that we know that cats’ knees are capable of suffering from conditions such as a luxating patella, it is worth putting in some changes to your cat’s lifestyle to ensure that their knees stay healthy.

However, this is not a completely preventative approach but having healthy knees will make your cat feel stronger, and more flexible which is what a cat should be so that they can jump from tree to tree or cat tower to shelf with no problems.

Keeping your cat active is very important with keeping their weight under control which takes a lot of stress off of the joints including the knees.

There are plenty of interactive cat toys that you can get that will keep your cat busy for a while before they get tired and decide it’s time for a nap.

You can even try fitting climbing shelves on the walls or around the circumferences of the room if you have an indoor cat.

This not only keeps them active but can also do wonders for their confidence as they have a safe area to go to when they feel overwhelmed.

Sometimes joint concerns are unavoidable as your cat gets older so the best thing to do at this stage makes them as comfortable as possible.

This not only includes keeping their weight down and giving them joint supplements but also making modifications to your home.

Steps and ramps up to your bed, cat tree, and couch for example will maintain your cat’s independence and will also slow down the degeneration of their joints.


In short, cats have knees even though they aren’t in the location that we thought they were in.

They are placed much higher up toward the hip bones than most people think which is why it can be hard to locate them.

They are also much smoother to feel than human knees as we have a more pronounced knee cap.

Knowing if and where your cat’s knees are is important because it will make you more aware of possible problems such as a luxating patella.

As well as this, keeping the knees healthy will make them more active and flexible for longer and will save lots of money on vet bills and pain that your cat may experience.

Courtney Trent
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