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Cat Limping: When to Visit the Vet

Cat Limping: When to Visit the Vet

While cats are typically agile and graceful creatures, illnesses or injuries can cause discomfort and limping. Today, our Murfreesboro vets list a few reasons your cat may be limping and when it's time to see the vet. 

My Cat is limping. Why would this be happening?

If you've noticed your cat is limping, this may be happening for numerous reasons. Whether your cat is limping from a front leg or back leg, it's always best to book an appointment with your vet for an exam.

Signs & Symptoms of Limping

Here are some common signs and symptoms of limping in cats.

  • Walking at a slower pace
  • Unable to walk or run normally
  • Refusing to place any weight on leg
  • Not placing paw on the floor correctly (referred to as 'knuckling') 
  • Swelling or abnormalities around joints 
  • Loss of muscle mass in affected leg 
  • Challenges with walking up or down stairs, or jumping to and from heights 
  • Pain and general signs of discomfort 

Causes of Limping in Cats

Many pet parents come to us asking, "Why is my cat limping all of a sudden?" Here are some common causes of limping in cats:

  • Torn or infected nail 
  • Foreign object stuck in their paw 
  • Arthritis 
  • Fractured or sprained leg caused by trauma (falling, being hit, or landing awkwardly)
  • Walking across a hot surface (hot gravel, pavement or stove)
  • Being bitten by a bug or other animal 
  • Ingrown nail or claw

Why is my cat limping but not in pain?

Owners sometimes wonder why their cat is limping but does not appear to be in pain. Typically, limping is a response to injury or abnormal anatomy and your kitty may or may not be in pain. The limp can impact one or multiple legs, and can be chronic or come and go. Similar to humans, it may be worse at some times during the day rather than others, such as first thing in the morning, late at night, or following rest or exercise. 

Signs of pain may not be restricted to crying out. Regardless of whether your cat is feeling uncomfortable, the root cause of the limping will need to be addressed. 

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 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 for an exam

It may seem strange but it can be challenging 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.

In order to prevent the condition from becoming worse, limit your cat's movements as you wait for your vet appointment. 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 should I take my cat to the vet for limping?

If your cat is limping, it is always a good idea to schedule a visit with your vet take your cat to the vet to prevent infection or get a proper diagnosis. If any of the following situations apply to your cat, make an appointment with your vet:

  • The limb is dangling in an odd position
  • They have been limping for more than 24 hours
  • There is swelling
  • An open wound
  • You're unable to identify the cause

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 people or pets. Always follow your doctor's advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms. 

Have you noticed your cat is walking with a sudden limp, or are they displaying other symptoms you're worried about? Contact us to schedule an appointment. Our experienced vets can diagnose the issue and help your cat jump pain-free again.

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