Worried that your cat is limping all of a sudden? Limping is a sign your feline companion is in pain. Our West Chester vets discuss common causes of limping and when it's time to bring your cat to the vet.
My Cat is Limping
Sometimes it can be challenging to know how our pets are feeling or if they're hurt. Limping is a good indication that something is wrong with your feline friend. There are a number of reasons cats can limp besides a sprain or break, such as bug bites or ingrown claws (ouch!).
If you're wondering "When should I take my cat to the vet for limping?" it is always best to err on the side of caution, especially if what is causing the limp is not immediately evident or they have been limping for more than 24 hours. Your vet will be able to examine your kitty, recommend treatment, and help keep their condition from worsening.
Reasons Why Your Cat May Be Limping
Below we have listed a few 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)
- Overgrown nail/claw
- Ingrown nail/claw
- Being bitten by a bug or other animal
- Infected or torn nail
What Should I Do if My Cat is Limping?
If you notice your cat is limping keep them calm and relaxed as you look over the affected leg. Run your fingers gently up and down their leg, feeling for any sensitive areas, protruding objects, or open wounds. You should also assess for swelling and any visible redness.
If you find any small protruding objects (like a thorn), gently remove them with tweezers and clean the area with soap and water. Small cuts should also be thoroughly cleaned. Keep an eye on the area over the next few days to ensure it is healing and doesn't become infected. Try to let your cat rest as much as possible.
If overgrown nails are the issue, trimming their claws could offer a simple solution.
When swelling is present or they are holding their leg at an odd angle it could indicate a break or sprain. If you suspect a break or sprain, or cannot find the cause of the limping and the issue persists for more than 24 hours, make an appointment with your vet. While waiting for your vet appointment, try to restrict your cat's movement as much as possible so they don't injure themselves further. Keep them in a room with low surfaces to prevent jumping, or put them in a carrier with a warm blanket.
When You Should Take Your Cat 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
Don't wait 24 hours 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. 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 pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.