What Is Cow Hocked in Cats? Explained

We adore our cats, they are fascinating creatures, known for their charm and grace.

Just like every other living thing, sometimes cats have certain abnormalities too. One such condition that may affect cats is called “cow hocked.”

cow hocked cat

In the following article, we will understand what cow hocked means in cats, its causes, symptoms, and possible treatment options.

What Is Cow Hocked in Cats?

Cow hocked, also known as “hock valgus,” is a condition characterized by the inward deviation of a cat’s hind legs when viewed from behind.

In normal feline anatomy, the hind legs are positioned in a straight line when viewed from the back.

However, in a cow-hocked cat, the lower leg bone, known as the tibia, angles inward towards the midline of the body. This can result in the cat’s paws turning slightly inward, resembling a cow’s hind legs.[1]

Causes of Cow Hocked in Cats

The exact cause of cow hocked disorders in cats is not well understood.

It is believed to be mainly a genetic condition, The condition may be inherited from one or both of the cat’s parents, indicating a hereditary element.

cat with cow-hocking legs

Specific breeds, such as the Scottish Fold, Maine Coon, and Persian, may have a higher prevalence of cow hocking.

However, it’s important to note that any cat can potentially develop this condition, regardless of breed or lineage.


The primary visible symptom of a cow-hocked cat is the inward deviation of the hind legs, The followings are a few more symptoms of a cow-hocked cat:

  • Inward deviation of the hind legs when viewed from behind.
  • Paws turned slightly inward, resembling a cow’s hind legs.
  • The pigeon-toed appearance of the feet.
  • Unusual gait, with hind legs closer together, while walking.
cow-hocked cat
  • Hind paws may scrape against each other during movement.
  • Difficulty jumping or running in severe cases.
  • Unsteady or clumsy movement.
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In severe cases, cow-hocked cats may experience difficulty jumping or running, and they may have an unsteady or clumsy movement.

Treatments for Cow Hocked in Cats

While cow hocking is generally considered a cosmetic issue in cats and does not cause pain or discomfort, severe cases may require a vet’s attention.

It is essential to consult with a veterinarian if you suspect your cat is cow-hocked. Treatment options for cow-hocked cats may include:

  • Monitoring: In mild cases, regular monitoring of the condition may be sufficient, as cow hocking does not usually cause significant functional impairment or discomfort.
  • Physical therapy: In some cases, a vet may recommend physical therapy exercises to help strengthen the muscles and improve overall mobility.
cow hocked cat
  • Orthopedic devices: In rare cases, the use of orthopedic devices, such as braces or splints, may be considered to provide additional support to the hind legs. However, this approach is generally not commonly used for cats.
  • Surgery: In severe cases or if the condition is causing significant mobility issues, corrective surgery may be an option. The surgical intervention aims to realign the bones and improve the cat’s overall gait and functionality.


What Does a Cow Hocked Look Like?

An animal is cow-hocked when its hock is set inward, resulting in a splayed look in the back legs. This can result in the uneven wearing of hooves, which can end up in permanent lameness and can prove to be a very serious condition.

Can Cow Hocks Be Corrected?

Most treatments will focus on strengthening the hindquarters of the dog to help mask the appearance of the cow hocks and to compensate for the weakness associated with them. The exercises used for cow-hocked dogs typically focus on hind leg strength.

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What Is the Best Treatment for Fusing Hocks?

After diagnosing your horse with lower hock OA, your veterinarian might recommend a steroid injection to expedite the fusion process. Or, your veterinarian might recommend ethyl alcohol injections, which help deteriorate the joint cartilage completely to promote fusion.

What Is the Difference Between Sickle-Hocked and Cow-Hocked?

Cow Hocked – When viewing the hind legs from the rear, the hocks are turned inward or are placed too close together, causing the toes to turn outward. Sickle Hocked – When viewing the rear legs from the side, the hock has too much angle or set, causing the steer to stand too far underneath himself.


Cow hocked, or hock valgus is a condition characterized by the inward deviation of a cat’s hind legs.

While it is primarily considered a cosmetic issue, severe cases may require veterinary intervention.

If you suspect your cat is cow hocked, it is best to consult with a veterinarian for proper evaluation and guidance.

Remember, regardless of any physical abnormalities, cats can live happy and fulfilling lives with proper care and attention from their loving owners.


  1. Walzthöni, N. M. (2019). Bilateral hind limb deformities and subsequent medially luxating patellas in a kitten. PubMed CentralNIH

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