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Cat Limping - When It's Time To Head To The Vet

Cats thrive on being incredibly active and exploring the world we live in, unfortunately, this can sometimes result in all types of injuries. In this post, our Tumwater vets will cover some of the causes of limping in cats and what you should do if you notice your cat is limping. 

My cat is limping but not in pain

Figuring out the cause behind why your cat might be limping can be a difficult task since they can't use words to express how they are feeling. There can be many reasons why a cat starts limping. Whether it's their back legs or limping from their front legs, there are many possible causes such as getting something stuck in their paw, a sprain, a break, or even an ingrown claw.

As a natural defense mechanism, your cat's instincts may be to act as though it's not in pain, so assessing the situation may be difficult. So although it may not seem like it, it's important to remember that if your cat is limping it's a sign that they are experiencing pain, even if they don't look like it.

If you notice that your cat is limping it is important to book an appointment with your vet for an examination. When your cat is limping there is a danger of the condition worsening or even infection. The cause of your cats limping might not be easy to spot but the treatment could be as simple as trimming their claws or removing a tiny splinter from their paw.

Always keep an eye out for lumps, bumps, swelling, redness, and open wounds. If you see any of these be sure to contact your vet as soon as possible. We believe that it's always best to be cautious when it comes to your cat's health. That said, it's important to monitor your animal's health regularly, and watching how they walk normally is a part of that. 

Why is my cat limping all of a sudden?

Limping in cats tends to happen without warning. 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 you notice that your cat has begun suddenly limping you could try checking for sensitive areas by running your fingers along the distressed leg beginning at your cat's paws and working your way up. Keep an eye out for open wounds, swelling, redness, and in extreme cases dangling limbs. 

Sometimes you may come to realize that the cause of the limping is something as simple as a thorn or splinter gently pull it out with tweezers and clean the area with soap and water. Be sure that after removing the foreign object and cleaning the area thoroughly you continue to monitor for signs of infection the 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 your cat's limp and it continues beyond a day or two, it's time to make an appointment with your vet. 

A possible fracture in one of your cat's legs is a scenario that may be difficult to determine. This is because the symptoms of a fracture can take on the appearance of other injuries such as a sprain (swelling, a limp, leg being held in an odd position, lack of appetite).

While waiting for your vet appointment it is important to try to limit your cat's movement and activity. 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. Be sure to continuously monitor your cat while waiting to bring it in for an examination. 

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 clearly broken
  • Your cat is hiding
  • Your cat is howling or showing other clear indications of pain

If there is a visible cause such as bleeding, swelling or the limb is hanging in a strange way, call your vet immediately to prevent infection or a worsening condition. Another reason to give your vet a call would be 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 you are concerned about your cat's limping contact your Tumwater vet today to book an examination for your feline friend.

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