Whether your feline companion is an indoor cat or an outdoor adventurer, there are numerous ways for your cat to injure a leg or paw and end up limping. However, injuries aren't the only cause of a cat limping. Our White Settlement vets discuss a few common causes of limping in cats and what you should do about it.
My Cat is Limping
Unfortunately, our pets are unable to communicate how they are feeling or what is causing them pain, which can make determining why your cat is limping difficult. Cats can limp for a variety of reasons, including getting something stuck in their paw, spraining, breaking, or even having an ingrown claw.
In some cases, you may ask "why is my cat limping but not in pain" because, as it stands, it seems your cat is limping but not making audible noises signifying pain. But remember that limping is a sign your cat is in pain, even if they don't appear to be (cats are 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 to prevent the condition from worsening. The cause of your cats limping may be difficult to identify, but treatment could be as simple as trimming their claws or extracting a thorn.
Having said that, if you're a pet parent, it's a good idea to regularly monitor your animal's health, and watching how they walk is part of that. Keep an eye out for any swelling, redness, or open wounds. If you see any of these, contact a veterinarian right away.
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. Begin with your cat's paw and work your way up, looking for any sensitive areas and open wounds, swelling, redness, and, in extreme cases, dangling limbs.
If it's something like a thorn, gently pull it out with tweezers and clean the area with soap and water. Keep an eye on the area to ensure no infection develops as the puncture wound heals. If your cat's nails are overgrown, simply trim them as usual (or have it done by your vet).
If you are unable to determine the cause of the limp and your cat is still limping after 24 hours, consult your veterinarian.
It can be difficult to tell if your cat's leg is broken because the symptoms can be similar to other injuries or sprains (swelling, limping, leg held in an unusual position, lack of appetite). This is why it's always best to consult your veterinarian.
While you wait for your appointment, you must restrict your cat's movements to prevent further injury or worsening of the condition. Keep them in a room with low surfaces or in their carrier. Make sure they are comfortable and provide a comfortable sleeping area/kitty bed and keep them warm with their favorite blankets. Continue to keep an eye on 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 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, swelling, or the limb is hanging unusually, call your veterinarian right away to avoid infection or a worsening condition. You should also contact your veterinarian if you are unsure how to handle the situation. Your vet 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.