A cow-hocked cat or also referred as “x-legs” is a sound conformation affecting the hind legs of the cat. Cow hocks are a misalignment of the back leg joints that make the knees and toes point outwards.
A cow-hocked cat can easily be spotted when a cat is walking and there are different grades of severity, from a mild misalignment to literally legs with an X shape. Nevertheless, in a show where usually cats just stand, it is more difficult to be seen and quite often this deformity goes unnoticed by cat judges.
This deformity is inherited and needs to be avoided at all costs as there is no cure and it brings some health issues in the long term depending on the severity of the deformity. It places extra pressure and stress on the cat hips and their spine, and in the long term cats can suffer arthritis and spinal issues. This condition is irreversible and can be very painful for the cats. Most treatments are focused on managing the pain and this stress rather than a cure per se, trying to give the best quality of life possible to the affected cat.
Cow-hocked kittens can be born in all catteries; and even in wild cats, though wild cow-hocked cats will be the most vulnerable and possibly not survive, as they won’t be fast enough. Responsible breeders neuter/spay all cats that have any functional deformity to keep the breed line as healthy as possible.
When talking about the breed development, the most important thing is the health of the breed, then character, and finally the breed standard. In TICA, CFA and other cat organizations this is included in the “show rules”. Breeders need to be committed to the development of the breed, and this starts for breeding healthy cats with a good structure and balance.
Thank you Rubens Juárez for these extraordinary drawings showing different grades of cow-hocked legs