At some point in their lives, most cats will hurt themselves, whether they are an outdoor adventurer or indoor kitty. Here, our Houston County vets discuss the possible reasons why your cat may be limping and how you can help.
My Cat Is Limping But Not In Pain
Since cats can't tell us how much pain they are in, what hurts, or even how they got a limp in the first place, it can be hard for pet owners to determine what happened. There are many possible reasons for a cat's limp whether they are limping from their front leg, or limping from their back leg such as a break, sprain, ingrown claw, or even having something stuck in their paw.
Although it may not seem like it, your cat may be experiencing significant pain but not show 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.
If your kitty is limping it's always best to take them to the vet, this helps avoid the possibility of infection and prevent their condition from getting worse. 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 essential to always be monitoring your cat's health, and keeping an eye on the way they usually walk is a part of that. Routinely check for open wounds, redness, swelling, bumps, and lumps. If you detect any of these signs call your vet. We believe that it's always best to err on the side of caution when it comes to the health of your cat.
Why Is My Cat Suddenly Limping?
Kitties usually start limping suddenly. Here are just a handful of the most common causes of limping in cats:
- Sprained or broken leg caused by trauma (being hit, falling, or landing wrong)
- Something stuck in their paw
- Being bitten by a bug or other animal
- Walking across a hot surface (stove, hot gravel, or pavement)
- Infected or torn nail
- Ingrown nail/ claw
My Cat Is Limping, What Should I Do?
If your cat is 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 monitor the area to make sure 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 determine the reason for your cat's limp, and their limping continues for more than a day or two you should book an appointment with your vet.
It might sound odd but it could be difficult to determine 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/kitty bed and keeping them warm with their favorite blankets. Continue to monitor their situation.
When Should I Take My Limping Cat to the Vet?
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:
- The limb is clearly broken
- You can't identify the cause
- There is swelling
- An open wound
- Your cat is hiding
- Your cat is howling or showing other clear indications of pain
- 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.