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 Staten Island vets share a few common reasons for limping in cats and what you should do.
My Cat is Limping
Unfortunately, our pets are unable to communicate how they feel or what hurts them, making it difficult to determine why your cat is limping. Cats can limp for a variety of reasons, including getting something stuck in their paw, spraining, breaking, or even having an ingrown claw if they are limping from their back leg.
Why is my cat limping but not in pain?
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).
If your cat is limping on its back or front leg, you should take them to the vet as soon as possible to avoid infection and to prevent its condition from worsening. Although the cause of your cat's limp may be difficult to determine, 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 on a regular basis, 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 is limping all of a sudden:
- 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, remain calm and relaxed while examining its leg. Run your fingers down the side, feeling for any sensitive areas and looking for open wounds, swelling, redness, or dangling limbs in extreme cases. Begin at the paw of your cat and work your way up.
If the object is a thorn, gently pull it out with tweezers and clean the area with soap and water. Keep an eye on the area as the puncture wound heals to make sure an infection doesn't set in. If your cat's nails are overgrown, simply trim them as needed (or have it done by your vet).
Make an appointment with your veterinarian if you are unable to determine the cause of the limp and your beloved kitty is still limping after 24 hours.
Because the symptoms of a broken leg can be similar to those of other injuries or sprains (swelling, a limp, leg held in an unusual position, lack of appetite), it's always best to consult your veterinarian.
You must limit your cat's movements while you wait for your veterinary appointment to prevent further injury or worsening of the situation. To accomplish this, keep them in a room with low surfaces or in their carrier. Make them feel at ease by providing them with a cozy bed or kitty bed to sleep in and keeping them warm with their favorite blankets. Maintain vigilance over them.
When should I take my cat to the vet for limping?
Taking your cat to the vet for limping is always a good idea to avoid infection or get a proper diagnosis. Make an appointment with your veterinarian if any of the following situations apply to your cat:
- 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
Contact your veterinarian right away if there is a visible cause, such as bleeding or swelling, or if the limb is hanging unusually 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.