Whether your feline companion is an indoor cat or an outdoor adventurer, there are numerous ways for your cat to injure a leg or paw and end up limping. However, injuries aren't the only cause of a cat limping. Our Fremont vets discuss a few common causes of limping in cats and what you should do about it.
My Cat is Limping
Unfortunately, our pets aren't able to tell us how they are feeling, or what hurts, which can make figuring out why your cat is limping challenging. Cats can limp for many reasons whether they are limping from their back leg, or limping from their front legs such as getting something stuck in their paw, a sprain, a break, or even an ingrown claw.
Remember, if your cat is limping it's a sign that they are experiencing pain, even if they don't look like it (cats are good at hiding pain).
It's always a good idea to take your cat to the vet if they have a limp to avoid infection and keep their condition from worsening. The cause of your cats limp might not be easy to spot but the treatment could be as simple as trimming their claws or pulling out a thorn.
Having said that, if you're a pet parent, it's a good idea to regularly monitor your animal's health, and watching how they walk is part of that. Keep an eye out for any swelling, redness, or open wounds. If you see any of these, contact a veterinarian right away.
Reasons Why Your Cat May Be Limping
Below we have listed a few common reasons why your cat might be limping:
- Something stuck in their paw
- Sprained or broken leg caused by trauma (being hit, falling, or landing wrong)
- Walking across a hot surface (stove, hot gravel, or pavement)
- Ingrown nail/ claw
- Being bitten by a bug or other animal
- Infected or torn nail
What Should You Do If Your Cat is Limping
If your cat is limping keep them calm and relaxed as you assess their leg. Run your fingers down the site watching and feeling for any sensitive areas and keeping an eye out for open wounds, swelling, redness, and in extreme cases dangling limbs. Start at your kitty's paw and work your way up. You may believe your cat is limping but not in pain, but cats are very good at masking their pain. It's important to keep very close attention.
If it's something like a thorn, gently pull it out with tweezers and clean the area with soap and water. Keep an eye on the area to ensure that no infection develops as the puncture wound heals. If your cat's nails are overgrown, simply trim them as usual (or have it done by your vet).
If you are unable to determine the cause of the limp and your beloved kitty is still limping after 24 hours, consult your veterinarian.
It can be difficult to tell if your cat's leg is broken because the symptoms can be similar to other injuries or sprains (swelling, limping, leg held in an unusual position, lack of appetite), which is why it's always best to consult your veterinarian.
While you wait for your veterinary appointment, you must restrict your cat's movements to prevent further injury or worsening of the condition. Keep them in a room with low surfaces or in their carrier to accomplish this. Make sure they are comfortable by providing a comfortable sleeping area/kitty bed and keeping them warm with their favorite blankets. Continue to keep an eye on their situation.
When You Should Take Your Cat to The Vet for Limping
It is always a good idea to take your cat to the vet for limping to prevent infection or get a proper diagnosis. If any of the following situations apply to your cat make an appointment with your vet:
- You can't identify the cause
- They have been limping for more than 24 hours (or is your cat starts limping all of a sudden)
- There is swelling
- An open wound
- The limb is dangling in an odd position
Don't wait 24 hours if there is a visible cause such as bleeding, swelling, or the limb is hanging strangely. Call your vet immediately to prevent infection or a worsening condition. You should also call your vet if you do not know how to handle the situation, your vet will be able to give you advice on the actions you should take next.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.