In this blog post, our Lakewood vets discuss reasons why your cat might be limping, when you should take your cat to the vet, and symptoms to watch out for.
Why is my cat limping all of a sudden?
Cats can limp for many reasons whether they are limping from their back leg, or limping from their front legs such as getting something stuck in their paw, a sprain, a break, or even an ingrown claw. It's always best to take your cat to the vet if they have a limp to avoid infection or keep their condition from worsening. The causes might not always be visible to the eye however, first aid could be as simple as trimming their claws or pulling out a thorn.
Remember, if your cat is limping they are experiencing pain, even if they don't look like it (cats are really good at hiding pain). Always keep an eye out for swelling, redness, and open wounds. If you see any of these call a vet immediately.
Why is my cat limping but not in pain?
Limping may or may not be the result of pain, and it is not always safe to assume your cat is not in pain even if they otherwise appear fine. Below we have listed the common reasons why your cat might be limping:
- 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
What Should 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. When they are calm carefully assess their leg and paw by running your fingers down the site for any sensitive areas and looking 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 cut their nails as usual (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.
It could 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 waiting for your veterinary appointment you have 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 cat to the vet for limping?
It is always a good idea to take your cat to the vet for limping 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 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.