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Limping in Cats

Accidents can happen unexpectedly, and sometimes they may result in injuries that cause symptoms like limping. Here, our Grass Valley vets discuss the common causes of feline limping and advise on when to seek veterinary care for your cat's condition.

My cat is limping, why?

Countless reasons may cause a cat to begin limping. Whether your cat is limping from a front leg or back leg, it's crucial to take them to the vet if they have a limp. Many conditions that cause limping could worsen over time or lead to infection. The cause of your cat's limping may not be immediately obvious, but simple first aid, such as trimming their claws or removing a thorn from their paw, could help. Here we answer questions like, 'Why is my cat limping all of a sudden?' and 'Should I take my cat to the vet for limping?'

Why is my cat limping but not in pain?

It's crucial to grasp that cats express stoicism. If your cat limps, it's likely in pain, even if other symptoms aren't apparent. If your cat starts limping, check for swelling, redness, or open wounds. If you notice any of these, promptly contact a vet.

What are the causes of limping in cats?

Below are some of the most common causes of 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

What should I do if my cat is limping?

If your cat is limping, wait for them to calm down and relax before assessing their leg. Once they are calm, carefully assess their leg and paw by running your fingers down the site for any sensitive areas and look for signs such as open wounds, swelling, redness, and dangling limbs. Begin at their paw and work your way up.

If the issue is something like a thorn or overgrown nails, gently remove the thorn with tweezers or trim the nails as usual (or have your vet do it). If you cannot determine the cause of the limp and your beloved kitty is still limping after 24 hours, schedule an appointment with your vet.

It may seem counterintuitive, but it can be challenging to determine if your cat's leg is broken. The symptoms of a break can resemble those of other injuries or a sprain (such as swelling, limping, holding the leg in an odd position, or lack of appetite). We strongly recommend contacting your vet if your cat is limping.

To prevent the issue from worsening while you wait for your vet appointment, limit your cat's movements by keeping them in a room with low surfaces or placing them in their carrier. Ensure their comfort by providing a cozy place to sleep, such as a kitty bed, and keep them warm with their favorite blankets. Continuously monitor 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 for limping in order 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

Don't hesitate to contact your vet immediately if you notice any visible signs of your cat limping, such as bleeding, swelling, or an unusual limb position. Taking prompt action can help prevent infection or further deterioration. If you're unsure how to handle the situation, reach out to your vet for guidance on the necessary 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.

Is your cat limping? Contact our Grass Valley vets immediately, or call your nearest after-hours emergency animal hospital for urgent care.

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