By nature, cats are very active and curious. It doesn't matter if they spend most of their time indoors or outdoors, there is still a good chance they will get hurt at one point. Here, our Powder Springs vets share some of the reasons why your cat may be limping and what you can do to help.
Why Is My Cat Limping But Not in Pain?
Because our cats don't have the ability to tell us if they are in pain or what hurts, it is our job as pet owners to determine why they are limping, and this can be challenging. There are many reasons why cats can start limping, whether it's from their back leg or front leg, such as a sprain, ingrown claw, a brake, or even having something stuck in their paw.
While it might not look like it, your cat could be suffering from a lot of pain. Cats often hide their pain by natural instinct because it helps protect them from predators. Therefore, if your kitty is limping they are in pain, even if it doesn't seem like it.
It's always best to take your cat to the vet if they have a limp to help prevent infection and keep their condition from getting worse. Sometimes it can be hard to determine the cause of your cat's limp, but the treatment could be as simple as removing a splinter from their paw or trimming their claws.
However, it's essential to always monitor your pet's health, and keeping an eye on how they walk is part of this. Always look for lumps, bumps, swelling, redness, and open wounds. If you see any of these, call your vet. We believe that it's best to be cautious when it comes to the health of your feline companion.
Potential Reasons Why Your Cat is Limping
When cats limp, it usually occurs suddenly. Here are some of the most common reasons why cats limp:
- Walking across a hot surface (stove, hot gravel, or pavement)
- Being bitten by a bug or other animal
- Something stuck in their paw
- Infected or torn nail
- Ingrown nail/ claw
- Sprained or broken leg caused by trauma (being hit, falling, or landing wrong)
What should I do if my cat is limping?
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 spot something like a splinter or thorn stuck in their paw, you can carefully remove it with tweezers, then clean the area with soap and water. Remember to monitor the site to make sure an infection doesn't develop as the wound heals. If the limp is being caused by overgrown nails all you need to do is trim them as usual (or have your cat's nails professionally trimmed by your vet).
If you can't determine the reasons why your cat is limping, and their limp lasts more than a day or two, it's best to contact your vet to arrange an appointment.
While this may sound strange, it can be hard 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 you are waiting to see your vet, you should do your best to limit your cat's movements, in order to keep them from causing further injury or making it worse. You can do this by putting them in a room that has low surfaces, or keeping them in their carrier. You can make sure your kitty stays comfortable by providing them with a comfy place to sleep/kitty bed and surrounding them with their favorite blankets to stay warm. Continue to monitor their situation.
When to Take Your Limping Cat to the Vet
It is always a good idea to take your cat to the vet for limping, to help prevent infection and get a proper diagnosis. If any of the following situations apply to your cat make an appointment with your vet:
- An open wound
- The limb is clearly broken
- There is swelling
- Your cat is howling or showing other clear indications of pain
- They are hiding
- They have been limping for more than 24 hours
- You can't identify the cause
If you can visibly see the reason why your cat is limping such as bleeding or swelling, or if the limb is hanging in a strange way, don't wait 24 hours, call your vet immediately to prevent infection and keep the condition from getting worse. We also highly recommend calling your vet if you don't 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.