Cat Limping - When It's Time To See a Vet

Cats can sometimes hurt themselves during their everyday activities. It doesn't matter if they are an outdoor cat or an indoor cat, they are very active creatures and can start limping for countless reasons. In this blog, our Cave Creek vets discuss reasons why your cat could be limping all of a sudden, how you can help them, and when you should take your kitty to the vet.

My cat is limping, but is not in pain?

Our feline friends don't have the ability to tell us how they feel, how much pain they are in, or explain what happened to them, this can make it hard to determine why they are limping. There are various reasons why your cat can be limping from their back or front leg such as a break, sprain, ingrown claw, or having something stuck in their paw. 

Even though it might not look like it, cats can be limping and look like they are not in any pain, even if they are. Most of the time cats are very good at hiding their pain because it is part of their natural instinct to help protect themselves from predators.  It's important to know that if your cat is limping it is because they are in pain, even if they don't seem to be.

If your kitty is walking with a limp, you should take them to the vet in order to avoid any possible infections or to keep their condition from getting worse. The cause of your cat's limp might be challenging to determine, the treatment could be as easy as trimming their claws or removing a small splinter from their paw.

However, it's critical to always monitor your kitty's health, and keeping an eye on how they walk is a part of this. Always watch out for bumps, lumps, redness, open wounds, and swelling. If you notice any of these issues call your vet. We believe that it's always best to be cautious when it comes to the health of your cat.

Why is my cat suddenly limping?

Cat's usually start to limp suddenly. Here we have listed some of the most common reasons why cats start to limp: 

  • Something stuck in their paw
  • Walking across a hot surface (stove, hot gravel, or pavement)
  • Being bitten by a bug or other animal
  • Sprained or broken leg caused by trauma (being hit, falling, or landing wrong)
  • Arthritis
  • 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. Remember to closely monitor the area to make sure an infection doesn't develop as the puncture wound heals. If overgrown nails are the cause just trim your kitty's nails as usual (or have it done by your vet).

If you can't determine the reason for your cat's limp and it continues for a day or two, make an appointment with your veterinarian.

It may sound strange but it can be challenging to tell 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.

Should I take limping cat to the vet?

It is always best to take your cat to the vet for limping in order to prevent infection and to get a proper diagnosis. If any of the situations below apply to your cat schedule an appointment with your vet as quickly as possible:

  • An open wound
  • The limb is clearly broken
  • You can't identify the cause
  • Your cat is hiding
  • There is swelling
  • Your cat is howling or showing other clear indications of pain 
  • They have been limping for more than 24 hours

If there is a visible reason for your cats limping such as their leg hanging in a strange way, swelling, an open wound, or bleeding don't wait 24 hours, call your vet immediately to prevent the condition from getting worse or infection. You should also call your vet if you don't know how to manage the situation, your vet will be able to provide you with advice on the steps you should take to care for your kitty. 

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.

If your cat is limping contact our Cave Creek vets today to schedule an appointment for your feline companion.