Whether your furry feline friend is an indoor cat or roams outside, there are a number of different ways that they may injure one of their paws and begin limping. However, injuries may not be the only reason for your cat's limping. Here, our Plains vets share a few of the most common reasons for limping in cats and what to do about it.
My Cat is Limping
Tragically, our pets aren't able to tell us how they are feeling or what hurts. This can make sorting our why your cat is limping a real challenge. Cats may limp for a number of different reasons. Your cat may limp on a front paw or back paw from something getting stuck in their foot, a sprain, a break or even an ingrown claw.
Remember, if your cat is limping it's a sign that they are experiencing pain, even if they don't look like it (cats are really good at hiding pain).
It's best to bring your cat to your vet if they have a limp to avoid infection and to help keep their injury or other condition from getting worse. While the cause of limping in cats is sometimes easy to spot and treat, this isn't always the case.
If you're a pet parent it's a good idea to monitor your animal's health regularly, and watching how they walk is a part of that. Always keep an eye out for swelling, redness, and open wounds. If you see any of these call a vet immediately.
Reasons Why Your Cat May Be Limping
Below we have listed a few common reasons why your cat might be limping:
- Ingrown nail/ claw
- Something stuck in their paw
- Being bitten by a bug or other animal
- Infected or torn nail
- Walking across a hot surface (stove, hot gravel, or pavement)
- Sprained or broken leg caused by trauma (being hit, falling, or landing wrong)
What Should I Do If My Cat Is Limping
If your cat is limping, keep them as calm and relaxed as possible so you can assess their leg. Run your fingers up and down the site, feeling for sensitive areas and watching their reaction, starting at their paw and working your way up. Keep an eye open for open wounds, redness, swelling and dangling limbs too.
If it is something such as a thorn gently pull the thorn 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).
If you can't sort out why your cat is limping all of a sudden and they continue to do so after 24 hours, make an appointment to see your vet as soon as you can.
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, try to limit your kitty's movement s as much as possible to keep them from causing further injury to themselves. 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 keeping them warm with their favorite blankets.
When You Should Take Your Cat to The Vet
It's always a good idea to bring your cat in to the vet for limping in order to prevent infection and to get your feline friend a proper diagnosis. If any of the following situations apply to your cat, make sure to make an appointment with your vet as soon as you can.
- You can't identify the cause
- There is swelling
- An open wound
- The limb is dangling in an odd position
- They have been limping for more than 24 hours
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.