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Cat Limping

Cats are naturally curious and active, and it's not uncommon for them to get hurt. Whether your cat spends most of their time indoors or ventures outside, there are several reasons why they might start limping. In this blog, our vets in Little Elm will explore the causes of limping in cats and guide what to do if your cat is experiencing this problem.

Why is my cat limping but not in pain?

Our feline friends often cannot communicate how they are feeling or what is causing them discomfort, making it challenging to determine why your cat is limping. Cats can limp for various reasons, whether they are limping from their back leg or their front leg. These reasons can range from something as simple as getting a small object stuck in their paw to more severe conditions such as a sprain, break, or ingrown claw.

Although it may not be apparent, your cat may be experiencing significant pain even if they do not show any obvious signs. Cats will often hide when experiencing pain, as it is a natural instinct to protect themselves from predators. Therefore, it is essential to remember that if your cat is limping, it is a sign that they are experiencing pain, regardless of whether they look like it or not.

If your cat does have a limp, it is always best to take them to the vet. This action will help avoid any possibility of infection and prevent the condition from worsening. While the cause of your cat's limp might not always be easy to spot, the treatment could be as simple as trimming their claws or removing a tiny splinter from their paw.

That being said, regularly monitoring your pet's health is crucial. Part of this involves observing their normal walking behavior. Always remain vigilant for lumps, bumps, swelling, redness, and open wounds. If you notice any of these signs, immediately contact your vet. We firmly believe in erring on the side of caution when it comes to your cat's health.

Why is my cat limping all of a sudden?

Limping in cats typically comes on suddenly. Below are just a few of the most 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
  • Arthritis

What should I do if my cat is limping?

If your feline is hobbling, try running your fingers down the affected leg, observing your cat's reactions, and feeling for any tender spots. Watch out for open wounds, swelling, redness, and, in severe cases, dangling limbs. Start at your cat's paw and gently progress upward.

If you encounter a thorn or splinter, delicately remove it with tweezers and cleanse the area with soap and water. Ensure to keep an eye on the area to prevent an infection from taking hold as the puncture wound heals. If excessively long nails are the issue, trim your cat's nails as usual (or have your vet do it).

If you cannot discern the cause of your cat's limp and it persists beyond a day or two, it's time to schedule an appointment with your vet.

How do you tell if your cat's leg is broken or sprained? 

Determining whether your cat's leg is broken or sprained can be challenging. This difficulty arises because the symptoms of a fracture can resemble those of other injuries such as a sprain (swelling, a limp, leg being held in an unusual position, lack of appetite).

Restrict your cat's movements while waiting for your vet appointment to prevent further injury or worsening. Accomplish this by keeping them in a room with low surfaces or placing them in their carrier. Ensure they are cozy by providing a comfy place to sleep or a kitty bed and keeping them warm with their preferred blankets. Continue to monitor their condition.

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 help prevent infection and to 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 broken
  • Your cat is hiding
  • Your cat is howling or showing other clear indications of pain

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 advise you on the next steps to take.

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 you are concerned about your cat limping, contact your Little Elm vet today to schedule an examination.

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