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Cat Limping - When To See The Vet

Cat Limping - When To See The Vet

Cats are built to be agile creatures but accidents or illness can lead to discomfort and limping. In today's post, we share a few common reasons why cats limp, and when you should take your cat to the vet for limping.

Why Cats Limp

The fact is that there are countless reasons why a cat may begin to limp. Whether your cat is limping from a front leg or back leg, it's always best to take your cat to the vet if they have a limp since many conditions that cause limping could become more severe over time, or lead to infection. The cause of your cat's limping may not be obvious right away, but first aid could be as simple as trimming their claws or pulling a thorn out of their paw.

Cat Limping But Not in Pain

It's important to understand that cats are stoic, so if your cat is limping it means that they are experiencing pain, whether they are showing other symptoms or not. Be sure to look for signs of swelling, redness, and open wounds if your cat starts to limp. If you see any of these call a vet immediately.

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

How to Help a Limping Cat

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 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 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 may sound counterintuitive but it can actually be challenging to tell if your cat's leg is broken since the symptoms of a break can be very similar to those of other injuries or a sprain (swelling, a limp, leg being held in an odd position, lack of appetite). This is a key reason why we recommend calling your vet if your cat is limping.

Limit your cat's movements as you wait for your vet appointment in order to prevent the issue from becoming 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 keep them warm with their favorite blankets. Continue to monitor their situation.

When to Head to The Vet

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

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 pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your cat limping? Contact our Ambler vets right away, or call your nearest after-hours emergency animal hospital for urgent care.

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