Chest Bone Deformity in Cats

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Pectus Excavatum in Cats

The sternum, or chest bone, is a long flat bone located in the center of the thorax, and the costal cartilages are the cartilages that connect the chest bone with the ends of the ribs. In pectus excavatum, the sternum and costal cartilages are deformed, resulting in a horizontal narrowing of the chest, primarily on the posterior side. In appearance, the middle of the chest appear to be flat or concave, rather than slightly convex.

Symptoms and Types

  • Difficult breathing
  • Unable to perform routine exercise
  • Increased depth of breathing
  • Recurrent lung infections
  • Weight loss
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Poor appetite
  • Failure to gain weight


There is a genetic predisposition in some cat breeds, but pectus excavatum can occur spontaneously in any breed. The condition may not be obvious until several weeks after birth unless it is a severe form.


You will need to give your veterinarian a thorough history of your cat's health, any information you have of its parentage and genetic background, and the onset of symptoms. Routine laboratory tests will include complete blood tests, biochemical profiles, and a urinalysis.

Your veterinarian will conduct multiple x-rays of the thoracic cavity to confirm the diagnosis of pectus excavatum. These x-rays will reveal the actual deformities and related structural abnormalities. In some patients, the heart may be shifted from its normal place on the left side of the thoracic cavity. Abnormalities and concurrent diseases related to the respiratory system will also be visible on x-rays. Echocardiography (ECHO), a sonographic image of the heart, will be used to further evaluate the heart, its functioning ability, and possible cardiac defects.

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Pertaining to the chest

thoracic cavity

A space in the chest that holds the ribs, heart, and lungs; the chest cavity


An in-depth examination of the properties of urine; used to determine the presence or absence of illness


The word for the bone at the front of the rib cage; may also be referred to as the breast bone.


A type of instrument that is used to affix parts of the body that might normally move; used to promote healing.


The ability to create a disease where a disease might not normally be found, usually due to an ill timed or unlikely weakness


The prediction of a disease’s outcome in advance


Anything that looks different from what is considered to be normal and healthy for that species

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