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 Corpus Christi 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 are feeling or what hurts them, making determining why your cat is limping difficult. 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 they are limping from their back 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).
If your cat has a limp, you should take them to the vet as soon as possible to avoid infection and to prevent their condition from worsening. Although the cause of your cats 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, it's a good idea to keep an eye on your animal's health regularly, and one way to do so is to watch how they walk. Keep an eye out for signs of swelling, redness, or open wounds. If you see any of these, contact a veterinarian right away.
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
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.
While you wait for your veterinary appointment, you must restrict your cat's movements to prevent further injury or worsening of the situation. Keep them in a room with low surfaces or in their carrier to accomplish this. Make sure they're comfortable by giving them a cozy bed or kitty bed to sleep in and keeping them warm with their favorite blankets. Continue to keep an eye on them.
When You Should Take Your Cat to The Vet
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
If there is a visible cause, such as bleeding, swelling, or the limb is hanging unusually, contact your veterinarian right away to avoid infection or a worsening condition. If you are unsure how to handle the situation, you should contact your veterinarian. 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.