Cats can start limping suddenly for many reasons. Today, our Palmyra vets talk about the common causes of limping in cats and explain what you should do if your cat is limping.
Limping in Cats
Cats can start limping for many reasons whether they are limping from their front leg or limping from their back leg, such as a break, sprain, getting something stuck in their paw, or an ingrown claw. If your cat is limping we recommend bringing them to the vet to help prevent infection or keep their condition from becoming worse.
You might not be able to recognize the source of your cat's limp with your eye, but the solution could be as simple as pulling a thorn out of your kitty's paw or trimming their claws.
It's important to know that if your cat is limping they are in pain, even if they don't look like it (cats are really good at masking pain). Always monitor their limp for signs of swelling, redness, and open wounds. If you notice any of these symptoms call your vet immediately.
Common Causes of Limping in Cats
Here are some common reasons why cats start limping:
- Infected or torn nail
- Sprained or broken leg caused by trauma (being hit, falling, or landing wrong)
- Being bitten by a bug or other animal
- Something stuck in their paw
- Ingrown nail/ claw
- Walking across a hot surface (stove, hot gravel, or pavement)
My Cat is Limping, What Should I Do?
When your cat is limping you should wait for them to relax and calm down before you start assessing their leg. Once they have settled, carefully examine their paw and leg by running your fingers down the site, starting at their paw, and working your way up. Look for any sensitive spots, redness, swelling, dangling limbs, or an open wound.
If you find a thorn, gently pull the thorn out with tweezers, if their nails are too long you can cut them as usual (or have it done by your vet). If you can't determine the cause of the limp and your cat is still limping after 24 hours, schedule an appointment with your vet.
It can 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 you are waiting to see the vet, you need to limit your kitty's movements to prevent them from making their injury worse or hurting themselves even more. Do this by keeping them in a room with low surfaces, or putting them in their carrier. Ensure your cat is comfortable by giving them a comfy place to sleep/kitty bed and keeping them warm with their favorite blankets. Continue monitoring their situation.
When Should I Take My Limping Cat to The Vet?
It is always best to take your cat to the vet for limping to prevent infection or/and get an official 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
- There is swelling
- An open wound
- The limb is dangling in an odd position
- You can't identify the cause
If you can see a visible reason for your cat's limp such as bleeding, swelling, or the limb is hanging in a strange way, don't wait 24 hours, you need to call your vet immediately to prevent infection or keep the condition from getting worse. You should also call your vet if you aren't sure how to manage the situation, your vet will be able to give you advice on the actions you should take next.