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Cat Limping: Causes & What to Do

Typically, cats are thought of as nimble creatures. However, illness or an accident can cause limping and discomfort. Today, our New York vets list a few reasons why your cat might be limping, and when you should take your cat to the vet. 

Why Cats Limp

A cat may limp for numerous reasons. Whether your cat is limping from a back leg or front leg, it's always best to book an appointment with your vet if they do have a limp since many conditions which cause limping may develop into more serious issues over time, or lead to infection. While the causes of your cat's limping might not be clearly visible, first aid may be as simple as pulling out a thorn or trimming their claws. 

Note that because cats are stoic creatures, if your cat is limping this indicates that they are in pain, whether they are showing other symptoms or not. If your cat begins to limp, look for signs of redness, swelling and open wounds. If you notice any of these, call a vet immediately.

Causes of Limping in Cats

Here are some of the most common causes of limping in cats:

  • Torn or infected nail
  • Being bitten by a bug or another animal
  • Arthritis
  • Ingrown claw or nail
  • Something stuck in their paw
  • Broken or sprained leg as a result of trauma (landing wrong, being hit or falling)
  • Walking across a hot surface (pavement, gravel or stove)

How to Help a Limping Cat

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. 

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 to Head to The Vet

It is always a good idea to take your cat to the vet for limping to prevent infection or 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 dangling in an odd position

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, as this is a veterinary emergency. 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.

Is your cat limping all of a sudden, or showing other symptoms you are concerned about? Book an appointment with your vet for an exam at Rivergate Veterinary Clinic. We can help them jump and play pain-free again.

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Rivergate Veterinary Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of New York companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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