My Cat is Limping
Whether your cat is limping from a back leg or limping from a front leg, cats may limp for many reasons. These can include a break, sprain, ingrown claw or having an object stuck in their paw. It's always best to book an appointment with your vet if your cat has a limp to prevent infection and keep their condition from growing worse.
While the causes may not always be visible to the naked eye, if your cat is limping they are in pain - even if they don't appear to be (cats tend to hide pain exceptionally well). Always look for swelling, redness or open wounds. Contact your vet immediately if you see any of these.
Why is my cat limping?
Here are some common reasons why your cat might be limping:
- Torn or infected nail
- Something stuck in their paw
- Ingrown claw/nail
- Being bitten by a bug or other animal
- Walking across a hot surface (hot gravel, stove or pavement)
- Broken or sprained leg caused by trauma (falling, landing wrong or being hit)
What should I do if my cat is limping?
If your cat is limping wait for them to calm down and relax before you assess their leg. When they are calm carefully assess their leg and paw by running your fingers down the site for any sensitive areas and look for an open wound, swelling, redness, and dangling limbs. Start at their paw and work your way up.
If it is something such as a thorn or nails that are too long just gently pull the thorn out with tweezers or cut their 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 for an exam.
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 keep them warm with their favorite blankets. Continue to monitor their situation.
Why is my cat limping but not in pain?
Owners sometimes ask us why their cat is limping but does not appear to be in pain. Generally, limping is a response to injury or abnormal anatomy and your kitty may or may not be in pain. The limp can affect one or multiple legs, and may be chronic or come and go. Similar to humans, it might be worse at some times during the day rather than others, like first thing in the morning, after rest of exercise or late at night.
Signs of pain may not be limited to crying out. Regardless of whether your cat is feeling uncomfortable, the root cause of the limping will need to be addressed.
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
Don't wait 24 hours if there is a visible cause such as bleeding, swelling or the limb is hanging in a strange way, call your vet immediately to prevent infection or a worsening condition. You should also call your vet if you do not know how to handle the situation, your vet will be able to give you advice on the actions you should take next.
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.