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What Should I Do if My Cat Is Limping?

What Should I Do if My Cat Is Limping?

If you have noticed that your cat is limping and you think they might be in pain out Lebanon vets can help you determine what is wrong and what can be done to help your cat.

My Cat is Limping

Unfortunately, our pets aren't able to tell us how they are feeling, or what hurts, which can make figuring out why your cat is limping challenging. 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.

Remember, if your cat is limping it's a sign that they are experiencing pain, even if they don't look like it (cats are good at hiding pain).

It's always best to take your cat to the vet if they have a limp to avoid the possibility of infection and to help keep their condition from worsening. The cause of your cats limp might not be easy to spot but the treatment could be as simple as trimming their claws or pulling out a thorn.

That said, if you're a pet parent it's a good idea to monitor your animal's health regularly, and watching how they walk is a part of that. Always keep an eye out for swelling, redness, and open wounds. If you see any of these call a vet immediately.

Reasons Why Your Cat May Be Limping

Below we have listed a few common reasons why your cat might be limping:

  • Ingrown nail/ claw
  • Something stuck in their paw
  • Infected or torn nail
  • Sprained or broken leg caused by trauma (being hit, falling, or landing wrong)
  • Walking across a hot surface (stove, hot gravel, or pavement)
  • Being bitten by a bug or other animal
  • Arthritis

How to Tell if Your Cats Leg is Broken or Sprained

When your cat has a sprained or broken leg or paw you will notice that they are in pain and limping. Some symptoms of your cat being in pain are: lack of appetite, panting even when they are not winded from running, meowing and/or crying more than average, they are favoring the aching leg, or if they have difficulty walking, jumping, or climbing, swelling on the injured leg, or any changes in their personality.

Sprained legs/paws in cats: A sprain in a cat is known as a “soft tissue trauma” that happens when the ligaments of your cat’s limbs are moved or pulled in a way they aren't meant too. The affected limb can be swollen or hot to the touch. A sprain is usually a minor injury to the ligaments of your cat. Sprains are also the most common cause for a cat to begin limping.

Fractured and Broken legs/paws in cats: Bone fractures and breaks are all different, and range from small hairline, stable fractures to complete open break. Fractures can be simple, with a clean fracture line, to complicated breaks where there are multiple pieces of bone. The fracture can also be ‘open’, where there is a wound that exposes the bone outside of the skin or ‘closed’. Then there can be dislocation of the bone.

If you think your cats leg or paws are sprained or broken book an appointment at Cumberland Animal Hospital. After doing some diagnostic work, the veterinarian may find that the injury is truly a sprain, or they could find another, more serious cause for the cat’s signs.

What To Do About a Limping Cat

If your cat is limping keep them calm and relaxed as you assess their leg. Run your fingers down the site watching and feeling for any sensitive areas and keeping an eye out for open wounds, swelling, redness, and in extreme cases dangling limbs. Start at your kitty's paw and work your way up.

If it is something such as a thorn gently pull the thorn out with tweezers and clean the area with soap and water. Be sure to keep an eye on the area to ensure that an infection doesn't take hold as the puncture wound heals. If overgrown nails are the issue simply trim your cat's 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 You Should Take Your Cat to The Vet 

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:

  • An open wound
  • You can't identify the cause
  • There is swelling
  • The limb is dangling in an odd position
  • They have been limping for more than 24 hours

Don't wait 24 hours if there is a visible cause such as bleeding, swelling or the limb hanging strangely, 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.

If your cat is limping contact us to book an examination for your feline friend. Our experienced vets can diagnose the cause of your cat's limp and provide effective treatments to help get your cat walking normally again. 

New Patients Welcome

Cumberland Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Lebanon companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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