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What should I do if my cat is limping?

What should I do if my cat is limping?

There are a number of ways that your cat could injure a leg or paw and wind up limping. But injuries aren't the only reason for cat limping. In today's post our Albany vets share some reasons for limping in cats and what to do if your cat is limping.

Why is my cat limping?

Obviously, your kitty isn't able to tell you when they are experiencing pain, or what hurts, which can make figuring out why your cat is limping challenging. Cats can limp for many reasons whether they are limping from their back leg, or limping from their front leg. Common reasons why cats limp include getting something stuck in their paw, a sprain, a break, or even an ingrown claw.

If your cat is limping it's important to keep in mind that it's a sign that they are experiencing pain, even if they don't look like it.

In order to avoid the possibility of infection and to help prevent your kitty's condition from worsening it's always a good idea to head to the vet if your cat is limping. The cause of your cat's limp might not be easy to spot but the treatment could be as simple as trimming their claws or pulling out a thorn.

As a pet parent it's a good idea to monitor your animal'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.

Common Reasons Why Cats Limp

Below is a list of some of the most common reasons for limping in cats:

  • 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 To Do If Your Cat Is Limping

If your cat is limping gently assess their leg by running your fingers down the affected leg watching and feeling for any sensitive areas. Watch for open wounds, swelling, redness, and in extreme cases dangling limbs. Start at your kitty's paw and work your way up.

If you spot something such as a thorn gently pull the thorn out with tweezers and clean the area with soap and water. Be sure to keep an eye on the area to ensure that an infection doesn't take hold as the puncture 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 can't see any obvious reason for your cat's limping but they are continuing to limp after 24 hours has passed, it's time to make an appointment with your vet. 

It can be surprisingly difficult to tell if a 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.

While waiting for your veterinary appointment you should limit your cat's movements to keep them from causing further injury or making it worse. You may want to keep 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 Take Your Cat To The Vet For Limping

It is always a good idea to take your cat to the vet for limping to prevent infection and to get a proper diagnosis of your cat's condition. 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 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.

Is your cat limping? Our Albany vets provide emergency and urgent care for cats during our regular business hours. Contact us to book an appointment for your kitty.

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