Help! Should I take my cat to the vet for limping?

It doesn't matter if you have an indoor or outdoor cat there are still many ways they can manage to hurt their paw or leg and start limping. But, did you know injuries arent the only reasons why cats may limp? In this blog, our Hoquiam vets discuss common causes of limping in cats and how you can help them.

Why is My Cat Limping? 

Unfortunately, our pets can't let us know how they are feeling, or what is hurting them, which can make determining the reason for their limp challenging. Cats can limp for a variety of reasons whether they are limping from their back leg, or limping from their front leg such as getting something stuck in their paw, a sprain, a break, or even an ingrown claw.

Remember, if your cat is limping it means they are experiencing pain, even if they don't look like it (cats are really good at masking their pain).

It's always recommended to take your cat to the vet if they are limping in order to prevent the possibility of infection and to help keep their condition from getting worse. The cause of your cat's limp might not be easy to detect however, the treatment could be as easy as pulling out a thorn, or trimming their claws.

Although, if you're a cat owner it's a good idea to monitor your kitty'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.

Why Your Cat Might Be Limping

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

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

What Should I Do if My Cat is Limping?

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 watching for any open wounds, swelling, redness, and in serious situations dangling limbs. Begin by examining your cat's paw and work your way up.

If their limping is caused by something such as a thorn carefully pull the thorn out with tweezers and clean the area with soap and water. Remember to monitor the area to make sure it doesn't become infected as the puncture wound heals. If overgrown nails are the cause all you need to do is trim your cat's nails as usual (or have it done by your vet).

If you can't determine the cause of your cat's limp and they are still limping after 24 hours contact your vet to make an appointment.

It can be difficult to tell if your cat has a broken leg because the symptoms could mirror other injuries such as a sprain (swelling, a limp, leg being held in an odd position, lack of appetite) which is why we recommend calling your vet.

While waiting for your kitty's veterinary appointment you will need to limit their movements to prevent them from worsening their injury or hurting themselves even more. 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 Should I Take My Cat to the Vet For Limping

It's always best to bring your cat to the vet if they are imping to get an official diagnosis and prevent any infections from developing. If any of the situations below apply to your cat call your vet and schedule an appointment:

  • 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

If you see a visible cause for your cat's limping such as swelling, the limb hanging oddly, or bleeding don't wait 24 hours, call your vet straight away to keep the condition from becoming worse or getting infected. We also recommend calling your vet if you are unsure how you should manage the situation, your vet will be able to provide you with advice on the steps 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.

Contact our Hoquiam vets to schedule an appointment today for your feline friend if you notice them limping.