While cats are typically agile and graceful creatures, illnesses or injuries can cause discomfort and limping. Today, our Fort Pierce vets list a few reasons your cat may be limping and when it's time to see the vet.
Why Is My Cat Limping?
If you've noticed your cat is limping, this may be happening for numerous reasons. Whether your cat is limping from a front leg or back leg, it's always best to book an appointment with your vet for an exam.
Signs & Symptoms Associated With Limping
Here are some common signs and symptoms to watch for in cats with a limp:
- Walking at a slower pace
- Unable to walk or run normally
- Refusing to place any weight on leg
- Placing paw on floor incorrectly (also called 'knuckling')
- Swelling or abnormalities around joints
- Loss of muscle mass in the affected leg
- Challenges with walking up or downstairs, or jumping (e.g. furniture)
- Pain and general signs of discomfort
Causes Of Limping In Cats
Any loving cat owner wants to know why their cat has suddenly started limping. Below are some common reasons for limping in cats:
- Torn or infected nail
- Foreign object stuck in their paw
- Fractured or sprained leg caused by trauma (falling, being hit, or landing awkwardly)
- Walking across a hot surface (hot gravel, pavement or stove)
- Being bitten by a bug or other animal
- Ingrown nail or claw
Why Is My Cat Limping But Not In Pain?
If your cat doesn't seem to be in pain while limping, it may be due to a number of reasons. Typically, limping is a response to injury or abnormal anatomy and your kitty may or may not be in pain. The limp can impact one or multiple legs, and can be chronic or come and go. Similar to humans, it may be worse at some times during the day rather than others, such as first thing in the morning, late at night, or following rest or exercise.
Additionally, keep in mind that cats are good at masking pain and they may indeed be in some pain or discomfort. Signs of pain may not be restricted to crying out. Regardless of whether your cat is feeling uncomfortable, the root cause of the limping will need to be addressed.
What Can I Do If My Cat Is Limping?
If your cat is limping, wait for them to calm down and relax before you assess their leg (especially if there has been a bad scare or minor accident). When they are calm carefully assess their leg and paw by gently running your fingers down the site for any sensitive areas and look for an open wound, swelling, redness, and dangling limbs. Start at their paw and work your way up.
If it is something such as a thorn or nails that are too long just gently pull the thorn out with tweezers or tend to their nails (avoid cutting the 'quick,' which could be painful for your cat, or have it done by your vet). If you are unable to figure out the cause of the limp and your beloved kitty is still limping after 24 hours make an appointment with your vet for an exam.
It may seem strange but it can be challenging 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.
In order to prevent the condition from becoming worse, limit your cat's movements as you wait for your vet appointment. 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 keep them warm with their favorite blankets. Continue to monitor their situation.
When Should I Take My Cat To The Vet?
If your cat is limping, it's a good idea to book an appointment to see your primary vet; this can prevent infection and give your vet a chance to provide a proper diagnosis. If any of the following situations apply to your cat, make an appointment with your vet:
- The limb is dangling in an odd position
- They have been limping for more than 24 hours
- There is swelling
- An open wound
- You're unable to identify the cause
Do not wait to see your vet if there is a visible cause of your cat's limping 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 people or pets. Always follow your doctor's advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms.