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 Statesboro 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 limp from the front or back leg for many reasons, 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. There is no such thing as a cat limping but not being in pain.
It's always best 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 determine, but treatment may be as simple as trimming their claws or extracting a thorn.
That being said, 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 swelling, redness, and open wounds. If you see 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 To Do About a Limping Cat
Keep your cat calm and relaxed while you examine their leg. Run your fingers down the site, looking for any sensitive areas and keeping an eye out for open wounds, swelling, redness, and dangling limbs in extreme cases. Work your way up from your cat's paw.
If it is a thorn, gently remove it with tweezers and clean the area with soap and water. Keep an eye on the area to prevent infection as the puncture wound heals. If your cat has overgrown nails, simply trim them as usual (or have your vet do it).
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 deterioration. Keep them in a room with low surfaces or in their carrier to achieve this. Provide them with a comfortable sleeping area/kitty bed and keep them warm with their favorite blankets. Maintain 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
Call your veterinarian right away to avoid infection or a worsening condition if there is a visible cause, such as bleeding, swelling, or the limb hanging oddly. If you are unsure of how to proceed, you should also call your veterinarian; they 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.