Whether your feline friend is an indoor cat or an 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 cats limping. Here, our Fairfield, NJ 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 leg. the reasons could be as varied as getting something stuck in their paw, a sprain, a break, or even an ingrown claw.
Why is my cat limping but not 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 its 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.
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 should I do if my cat is limping?
If your cat is limping, try to keep them calm and relaxed while you examine its leg. Run your fingers down the site, looking for any sensitive areas and open wounds, swelling, redness, and, in extreme cases, dangling limbs. Begin with your cat'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 keeping 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
If there is a visible cause, such as bleeding or 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.