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What to Do if Your Cat Is Limping

Even the most laid-back and relaxed of our feline friends is bound to hurt themselves at some point. In today's post, our Olive Branch vets look at why cats limp and what you should do if your cat is limping.

What should I do if my cat limping but not in pain?

Since cats can't just tell us how they are feeling, or what hurts, figuring out why your cat is limping can be both challenging and frustrating.

Your kitty could be limping for a number of reasons, whether they are limping from their back leg, or limping from their front leg, the cause could be anything from having something stuck in their paw to a broken bone.

While it may not seem like it, your cat may be experiencing significant pain but not look like it. In many cases, cats will hide when experiencing pain which is a natural instinct to protect themselves against predators. So it's important to remember that if your cat is limping it's a sign that they are experiencing pain, even if they don't look like it.

Taking your cat to the vet is always advisable if they have a limp. Visiting the vet early can help to avoid the possibility of infection and help to keep your cat's condition from becoming more severe. The cause of your cat's limp might not be easy to spot but the treatment could be as simple as trimming their claws or removing a tiny splinter from their paw.

That said, it's important to monitor your animal's health regularly, and watching how they walk normally is a part of that. Always keep an eye out for lumps, bumps, swelling, redness, and open wounds. If you see any of these contact your vet. We believe that it's always best to err on the side of caution when it comes to your cat's health.

What are the most common causes of limping in cats?

Limping in cats typically comes on suddenly. So if you're scratching your head wondering why your cat is limping all of a sudden, here are a few of the most common reasons for limping in cats:

  • 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
  • Arthritis

Should I take my cat to the vet for limping?

When trying to determine the cause of your cat's limping try running your fingers down the affected leg watching your cat's reactions and feeling for any sensitive areas. Keep an eye out for open wounds, swelling, redness, and in extreme cases dangling limbs. Start at your cat's paw and gently work your way up.

If you discover something such as a thorn or splinter gently pull it out with tweezers and clean the area with soap and water. Be sure to keep an eye on the area to ensure that an infection doesn't take hold as the puncture wound heals. If overgrown nails are the issue simply trim your cat's nails as usual (or have it done by your vet). 

Can't see an obvious reason for your cat's limp? Then it's definitely time to make an appointment with your vet. 

It may sound strange but it can be challenging to tell if your cat's leg is broken. This is because the symptoms of a fracture can mirror those of other injuries such as a sprain (swelling, a limp, leg being held in an odd position, lack of appetite).

While waiting for your vet appointment do what you can 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 and keeping them warm with their favorite blankets. Continue to monitor their situation.

It is always a good idea to take your cat to the vet for limping to help prevent infection and to 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 clearly broken
  • Your cat is hiding
  • Your cat is howling or showing other clear indications of pain

It's important not to wait 24 hours if there is a visible cause for your cat's limp such as bleeding, swelling , or a broken bone - 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.

If your cat is limping or showing any other concerning behaviors or symptoms, contact our Olive Branch vets at Cat and Cow Vet Clinic to book an examination for your feline friend.

New Patients Welcome

Cat and Cow Vet Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Olive Branch companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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