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 Little Rock vets discuss a few common causes of limping in cats and what you should do about it.
My Cat is Limping
Unfortunately, our pets are unable to communicate how they are feeling or what hurts them, making determining why your cat is limping all of a sudden. Cats can limp for a variety of reasons, including getting something stuck in their paw, a sprain, a break, or even an ingrown claw if the cat is limping from their back leg or even if the cat is limping from the front leg.
Remember that if your cat is limping, it means they are in pain, even if they don't appear to be (cats are good at hiding pain). There is no such thing as a cat limping but not in pain.
If your cat limps, take them to the vet as soon as possible to avoid infection and to keep their condition from worsening. Although determining the cause of your cat's limp may be difficult, treatment may be as simple as trimming their claws or removing a thorn.
However, if you're a pet parent, you should keep a close eye on your animal's health regularly, and one way to do so is to observe how they walk. Look for signs of swelling, redness, or open wounds. If you notice any of these, contact a veterinarian 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 should I do if my cat is limping?
If your cat is limping, inspect its leg while remaining calm and relaxed. As you run your fingers down the side, feel for any sensitive areas and look for open wounds, swelling, redness, or dangling limbs in extreme cases. Begin with your cat's paw and progress from there.
If the object is a thorn, carefully remove it with tweezers and clean the area with soap and water. Keep an eye on the area as it heals to ensure that an infection does not develop. Simply trim your cat's nails as needed if they are overgrown (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, make an appointment with your veterinarian.
Because the symptoms of a broken leg can be similar to those of other injuries or sprains (swelling, limping, holding the leg in an unusual position, loss of appetite), it's always best to consult your veterinarian.
To avoid further injury or worsening of the situation, you must restrict your cat's movements while you wait for your veterinary appointment. Keep them in a room with low surfaces or in their carrier to accomplish this. Provide them with a cozy bed or kitty bed to sleep in and keep them warm with their favorite blankets to make them feel at ease. Keep a close eye on them.
When should I take my cat cat to the vet for limping?
It's always a good idea to take your cat to the vet if he's limping to avoid infection or get a proper diagnosis. Make an appointment with your veterinarian if your cat is experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- 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 is hanging abnormally, contact your veterinarian immediately to avoid infection or worsening of the condition. Contact your veterinarian if you are unsure how to handle the situation. Your veterinarian will be able to guide you through the next steps.
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.