Why Is My Cat Limping?

Many conditions involving the joints, muscles, bones, nerves, or skin can cause cats to limp, and some issues are more serious than others. If your kitty collided with a moving vehicle or fell from a window, its no mystery why she cannot walk normally. But sometimes the cause of limping is not so dramatic or obvious.

Limping often is the result of a soft tissue injury in the animals leg, like a strained muscle or injured ligament, says Dr. Dorothy Nelson, an associate veterinarian at the Scottsdale Cat Clinic in Arizona. In addition to trauma and soft tissue injuries, many medical issues and environmental hazards can sideline cats.

Physical exercise can relieve the symptoms of arthritis, but you cannot expect a cat whos suffering to pursue mice or play with yarn. Nelson says ingrown toenails are hard to see on Maine Coons, Persians, and other cats with long shaggy fur. Nelson has also treated limping cats who were wounded in fights with other felines or injured by cactus plants and hot stoves.

Lung-digit syndrome, injection site sarcoma, and lymphoma are among the cancers that can cause cats to limp, Peakheart says. When she practiced veterinary medicine in Florida, Nelson treated cats with grass awns embedded in their paws. Since a kitty will never complain about pain or other symptoms, its up to you to pay attention to your pet and take her in for professional treatment when needed, Lascelles says.

What should I do if my cat is limping?

If your cat is limping and in extreme pain, take them to the vet straight away. If your cat is limping but will allow you to touch and inspect the leg, check for any signs of injury starting with the paw and moving up.

Can a limping cat heal itself?

If your cat has a mild sprain, she’s not in too much pain and it will likely heal on its own.

Should I go to the vet if my cat is limping?

Contact your vet if your cat has a mild limp (that doesn’t improve within 24 hours), is slowing down with old age or seems a bit stuff when they move around. Contact your vet immediately for an emergency appointment if your cat develops a sudden limp, can’t put weight on a leg or is in severe pain.

Why is my cat limping but not crying?

Even if your cat is not crying, don’t assume that it’s not masking its discomfort. In fact, some cats become accustomed to pain and no longer react. Common reasons for a cat to limp include trauma, arthritis (joint pain), and infection. Some senior cats overexert themselves while exercising, causing temporary lameness.

But the cause of your cats lameness could be difficult to nail down if its a torn ligament, soft tissue injury, or due to nerve damage. Infections like abscesses may appear as swellings under the skin and on the paw pads.

Diabetes, nerve damage, and progressive polyarthritis (immune system disorder) can all lead to limping. Stiffness Swelling or inflammation Lumps and bumps Bleeding Refuses to bear weight on an affected limb Refuses to be touched or held Less physical activity Lesser amount of jumping or running Lessened or lack of appetite Obvious limp Lethargy Signs of trauma Avoiding stairs Loss of muscle mass Panic when touched Aggression Unable to walk or stand Loss of muscle mass around the affected limb

Your cat has a higher likelihood of becoming more injured in the great outdoors, so keep them indoors until you see a veterinarian. Do not put the bandage on too tight, as this can cause circulation to be cut off to the leg and lead to further damage. If you find foreign bodies between the toes, clean the wound carefully without harming your cat.

Only use warm, running water to clean, not hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol. Limping is paired with fever, difficulty breathing, or pain when touched. They will talk to you about any behavioral changes youve seen, so write down your cats symptoms as you see them before the appointment.

They may find obvious causes of trauma, like foreign bodies embedded in the paw pad. If an x-ray does not give the answer, they may have to resort to more complicated tests, such asCT scans, MRIs, or ultrasounds. In the case of a broken bone, dislocation, or severe wound, your cat may need surgery.

They may recommend physical therapy to help maintain muscle strength in the case of arthritis. Another treatment plan may include recommending that your cat lose weight so theres less pressure on their joints. Vets could suggest a change in diet, which may include switching to a food that supports joint health.

Gently support the cats hips and shoulders as you lift them into the carrier so they dont further hurt themselves, or you. Cats will often hide pain because its a sign of weakness and they want to appear strong to potential predators. Generally speaking, if your cat is hiding, not eating their normal amount, crying out more, or not doing the things they typically like to do, it could be a sign they are in pain.

Pets have a special place in our lives, which is why it can be so frightening when one of them gets hurt. Worse yet, they cant tell us whats wrong. If you see your cat limping, a thousand questions might race through your brain. The most burning question of all, though, is why.

The treatment is similar for a cut or torn paw pad or broken claw. Your cat may have sprained or broken their leg, or there could be another chronic condition such as arthritis causing them pain.

A broken claw Thorns, cactus needles, broken glass, or other foreign objects in the paw Fighting with another cat or wildlife An injured or cut paw pad A foreign object stuck between the toes or in the paw pad Tendonitis A sprained leg A dislocated joint A broken leg Arthritis Hip dysplasia Patellar luxation Lumbosacral disease Intervertebral disk disease Tumors, either benign or cancerous Cancers such as lung-digit syndrome, injection site sarcoma, or lymphoma A paw injurysuch as a torn pad, embedded object, or broken claw could cause limping. A major injury such as tendonitis, a sprain, a dislocated joint, or a broken leg can cause limping.

If your cat is limping but will allow you to touch and inspect the leg, check for any signs of injury starting with the paw and moving up. If there is a small foreign object lodged in the pad or between the toes, such as a thorn or piece of broken glass, pull it out and clean the wound. A hairline fracture may exhibit many of the same symptoms as a sprained leg, but it calls for different treatment.

A broken leg is a serious injury, but with the right medical attention, your cat will be able to get back to their regular activities within roughly three to four months . Whenever closing a door, cupboard, recliner, or other open areas, check to make sure your cat isnt traveling through. Sprains are, generally, much less serious than a broken bone, but they are still major injuries and take time to heal.

To help with your cats recovery, keep them quiet and confined to a small area to avoid aggravating the injury.

Cats have 2 more legs than we do, but despite their numerical advantage, they still limp when they have a hurt leg. Although most limps need veterinary attention, there are a few first aid measures you can perform at home if your cat begins to hobble around.

Even if shes not in obvious discomfort, manipulating broken bones or dislocated joints can cause unnecessary pain and may worsen the injury. Heres a simple rule of thumb to help you determine the severity of the injury: Most cats will not walk on a broken leg or dislocated joint .

Work your way up the limb, identifying areas of tenderness by applying gentle pressure on each part of the leg. If the cat has swelling associated with a sprain, bruise or tendonitis , apply ice packs to the area for 15 minutes, twice daily. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) relieve pain and inflammation in acute injuries and are used long-term for cats with chronic arthritis.

“Your cat will have a better chance of healing if you provide first aid when appropriate and seek prompt veterinary care when needed” Your cat will have a better chance of healing if you provide first aid when appropriate and seek prompt veterinary care when needed.

Symptoms That May Accompany Limping in Cats

Limping combined with house soiling or other unusual behaviors is cause for concern, says Dr. Sarah Peakheart, a clinical assistant professor at Oklahoma State University who previously worked in private practice at a feline-only clinic.“Any lameness accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, difficulty breathing or change in breathing, pain when touched, reluctance to move or eat, and the inability to get comfortable or sleep would warrant immediate care,” Peakheart says. “If a cat is sleeping more or playing less, reluctant to jump or grooming less, there is something wrong.”Limping often is the result of a soft tissue injury in the animal’s leg, like a strained muscle or injured ligament, says Dr. Dorothy Nelson, an associate veterinarian at the Scottsdale Cat Clinic in Arizona. Take your pet to the veterinarian, who can take X-rays to determine the actual problem.Nelson prescribes anti-inflammatory medications and rest for cats with these types of injuries. They usually recover completely. The hardest part is making sure your kitty stays off her feet as she recovers, she says. “Convincing a cat not to jump on a bookcase can be difficult.”In addition to trauma and soft tissue injuries, many medical issues and environmental hazards can sideline cats. Identifying the cause may require a bit of investigation.

Why is my cat limping?

Watching your four-legged friend limp can be scary as a pet parent. Lameness can be caused by an injury, like a broken bone or a joint dislocation.But the cause of your cat’s lameness could be difficult to nail down if it’s a torn ligament, soft tissue injury, or due to nerve damage. Infections like abscesses may appear as swellings under the skin and on the paw pads.

First aid for cat limping in non-emergencies

Most of the time, you’ll need to see a veterinarian to figure out why your cat is limping. But before your appointment, you can check for cuts, broken nails, and bleeding. You need to keep your cat indoors.You shouldn’t let your cat go outside if they are limping. Your cat has a higher likelihood of becoming more injured in the great outdoors, so keep them indoors until you see a veterinarian.If your cat is bleeding, apply pressure and wrap their leg/foot in a bandage. Do not put the bandage on too tight, as this can cause circulation to be cut off to the leg and lead to further damage. It is always best to check with your vet first and only put a bandage on if you can get to your vet within 24 hours. If you find foreign bodies between the toes, clean the wound carefully without harming your cat. Only use warm, running water to clean, not hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol.

How veterinarians diagnose lameness in cats

Call your vet immediately if your cat is limping and:

How vets treat lameness in cats

How your cat’s lameness is treated really depends on the diagnosis. Vets can help manage the pain they are feeling by prescribing your cat a pain medication while you are waiting for answers, though.The first step is to create a treatment plan to relieve your cat’s pain. Vets may administer pain medication, antibiotics, or anti-inflammatory medication. Your cat may receive oral medication or injections. In the case of a broken bone, dislocation, or severe wound, your cat may need surgery.Your vet will likely prescribe cage rest, so the cat doesn’t harm their injury further or put pressure on an injury. They may recommend physical therapy to help maintain muscle strength in the case of arthritis. Another treatment plan may include recommending that your cat lose weight so there’s less pressure on their joints. Vets could suggest a change in diet, which may include switching to a food that supports joint health.

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People Also Ask:

Once you’ve identified the source of your cat’s limping, you may be left with other questions. How long will it take them to recover? What can I do to prevent them from being injured in the future? Rest assured–we’ve got you covered.

Why is my cat suddenly limping?

There are many reasons that your cat might suddenly start limping. A paw injury–such as a torn pad, embedded object, or broken claw could cause limping. A major injury such as tendonitis, a sprain, a dislocated joint, or a broken leg can cause limping. Limping can also be caused by certain chronic conditions, such as arthritis, hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, lumbosacral disease, intervertebral disk disease, or cancer.

First Aid for Limping Cats

Cats have 2 more legs than we do, but despite their numerical advantage, they still limp when they have a hurt leg. Although most limps need veterinary attention, there are a few first aid measures you can perform at home if your cat begins to hobble around.

What Causes Lameness?

Lameness occurs due to the injury or debilitation of one or more parts of the leg—joints, bones, muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, or skin. The cause of some limps is obvious. With a broken bone or dislocated joint, there may be swelling and the leg may lie at an awkward angle. Infections of the nail beds may result in crusty, deformed nails. Deeper infections like abscesses will appear as warm, soft, fluctuant swellings under the skin. In cases involving joints, nerves, tendons, and ligaments, there may be no external sign of injury at all.

How Serious is a Limp?

Some limps are more serious than others, so the first step in providing first aid is to assess the limp. Watch your cat walk. Identify the limping leg; right or left, front or rear? Does your cat carry the leg when walking, but balances on it when standing still? Does she walk on it but stumbles a bit? Take shorter steps than normal? Does she keep the foot from touching the ground?The second step is to establish a time frame. When did you first notice the limp? Did it start suddenly or come on gradually? Was there a trauma involved? Is the lameness worse at certain times of the day, i.e. early morning, or after exercise?