It's obviously distressing to realize your cat is limping without explanation. There are countless different ways your cat may have injured their leg or paw, and even that does not cover the full breadth of potential causes for cat limping. Today, our Bakersfield vets explain different causes for cat limping, and what cat owners can do to take care of their feline friends.
What should I do if 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 for front and back leg limping in cats; there could be something stuck in their paw, perhaps a sprain, or even a break, sometimes cat limping is caused by an ingrown claw.
It's always best to take your cat to the vet if they have a limp in order to avoid the possibility of infection and to help keep their condition from worsening. Often the treatment for a limp is something very simple, like a claw trim or removing a foreign object, but the longer one waits to seek veterinary care and resolve the issue, the greater the chance more invasive treatment will be required.
It is the best practice as a cat owner to monitor your animal's health regularly, including being mindful of how they are walking. Always keep an eye out for swelling, redness, and open wounds. If you see any of these call a vet immediately.
Why is my cat limping but not in pain?
It is best to remember is that if your cat is limping it's a sign that they are experiencing pain. Cats are generally very good at hiding the fact they are in pain and may appear totally normal outside of their favoritism for the wounded leg. Even in these cases you should take your cat to the vet for limping.
Why is my cat limping all of a sudden?
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 waiting for your veterinary appointment you have to limit your cat's movements to keep them from causing further injury or making it worse. Do this by keeping them in a room with low surfaces, or putting them in their carrier. Make sure they are comfortable by providing them with a comfy place to sleep/kitty bed and keep them warm with their favorite blankets. Continue to monitor 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
Don't wait 24 hours if there is a visible cause such as bleeding, swelling or the limb is hanging in a strange way, 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.