Whether your feline friend is an indoor cat or outdoor adventurer there is a myriad of ways that your cat could injure a leg or paw and wind up limping. But injuries aren't the only reason for cat limping. Here, our Los Angeles vets share a few common reasons for limping in cats and what you should do.
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.
There is no such thing as your cat limping but not being in pain. 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 really 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 cat's limp may be difficult to identify, but treatment may be as simple as trimming their claws or extracting a thorn.
That said, if you're a pet parent it's a good idea to monitor your animal's health regularly, and watching how they walk is a part of that. Always keep an eye out for swelling, redness, and open wounds. If you see any of these call a vet immediately.
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 To Do About a Limping Cat
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.
If it is something such as a thorn gently pull the thorn out with tweezers and clean the area with soap and water. Be sure to keep an eye on the area to ensure that an infection doesn't take hold as the puncture wound heals. If overgrown nails are the issue simply trim your cat's nails as usual (or have it done by your vet).
If you are unable to figure out the cause of the limp and your beloved kitty is still limping after 24 hours make an appointment with your vet.
It could be hard to tell if your cat's leg is broken because the symptoms could mirror other injuries or a sprain (swelling, a limp, leg being held in an odd position, lack of appetite) which is why it's always best to call your vet.
While you wait for your veterinary appointment, you must restrict your cat's movements to prevent further injury or worsening the situation. Keep them in a room with low surfaces or in their carrier to accomplish this. Provide them with a comfortable sleeping area/kitty bed and keep them warm with their favorite blankets to ensure their comfort. Continue to keep an eye on their situation.
When Should I Take My 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
- There is swelling
- An open wound
- The limb is dangling in an odd position
If there is a visible cause, such as bleeding, swelling, or the limb hanging in an unusual way, call your veterinarian immediately to avoid infection or a worsening condition. You should also contact your veterinarian if you are unsure how to handle the situation; your veterinarian will be able to advise you on the next steps to take.
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.