My Cat is Limping
Unfortunately, our cats can't tell us how they got hurt, or what they are feeling, which can make it hard for us pet owners to determine the source of their limp. There are many potential causes for our cat's limp, whether they are limping from their back leg, or limping from their front legs such as a break, sprain, bite, ingrown claw, or even just something stuck in their paw.
Keep in mind that if your cat is walking with a limp they are in pain, even if it doesn't look like it (cats are experts at masking pain).
It's always best to take your cat to the vet if they have a limp in order to avoid the possibility of infection and to help keep their condition from worsening. 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 pulling out a thorn.
That said, 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.
Common Cat Limping Causes
Here are some common causes of limping in cats:
- Walking across a hot surface (stove, hot gravel, or pavement)
- Something stuck in their paw
- Being bitten by a bug or other animal
- Ingrown nail/ claw
- Infected or torn nail
- Sprained or broken leg caused by trauma (being hit, falling, or landing wrong)
How to Help Your Limping Cat
If your cat is limping keep them calm and relaxed as you assess their leg. Run your fingers down the site watching and feeling for any sensitive areas and keeping an eye out for open wounds, swelling, redness, and in extreme cases dangling limbs. Start at your kitty's paw and work your way up.
If your cat is limping because they have an item such as a thorn stuck in their paw carefully pull the thorn out with tweezers, then gently clean the site with soap and water. You then have to monitor the area to make sure an infection does not develop as the puncture wound heals. If the problem is overgrown nails just trim your kitty's nails as normal (or have your vet do it).
If you can't determine the cause of your cat's limp and they are still limping after 24 hours, call your vet to book an appointment.
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 keeping them warm with their favourite blankets. Continue to monitor their situation.
When to Bring Your Cat to The Vet
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:
- They have been limping for more than 24 hours
- An open wound
- You can't identify the cause
- There is swelling
- The limb is dangling in an odd position
If you can visibly see the cause of your cat's limping such as bleeding, or if the limb is hanging oddly don't wait 24 hours to contact your vet, call them immediately to keep the condition from getting worse and prevent infection. We also highly recommend calling your vet if you aren't sure which steps you should take, your veterinarian will be able to provide you with advice on what you should do.
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.