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Cat Limping - When To See The Vet

Cats naturally possess agility, but accidents or illness can lead to discomfort and limping. In this post, we highlight several common causes of cat limping and emphasize when you should immediately seek veterinary care for your feline companion.

Why Cats Limp

Countless reasons can cause a cat to start limping. If your cat has a limp, whether it's in a front leg or a back leg, it's crucial to take them to the vet. Limping could indicate underlying conditions that might worsen or lead to infection. While the exact cause of your cat's limp may not be immediately apparent, initial steps can include simple actions such as trimming their claws or removing a thorn from their paw.

Cat Limping But Not in Pain

It's crucial to recognize that cats display stoicism, so if your cat limps, it signifies they're in pain, regardless of whether they exhibit other symptoms. Check for signs of swelling, redness, or open wounds if your cat begins to limp. If you observe any of these indicators, contact a vet promptly.

Causes of Limping in Cats

Below are some of the most common causes of 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

How to Help a Limping Cat

If your cat limps, follow these steps for a clear and proactive approach:

  • Wait for your cat to calm down and relax.
  • Then, assess their leg and pay carefully.
  • Ring your finger down the site to check for sensitive areas, like open wounds, swelling, redness, or dangling limbs.
  • 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 you discover a thorn or excessively long nails, gently remove the thorn with tweezers or trim their nails.
  • If you cannot determine the cause of the limp and your cat continues to lip after 24 hours, schedule an appointment with the vet. 

Identifying a broken leg in cats can be challenging since the symptoms overlap with other injuries or sprains (swelling, limping, an odd leg position, and loss of appetite). This is why contacting your vet when your cat is limping is crucial.

While waiting for your vet appointment, limit your cat's movements to prevent the condition from worsening. Place them in a room with low surfaces or their carrier.

Ensure their comfort with a cozy sleeping area and their favorite blankets, keeping them warm. Continue to monitor their condition closely.

When to Head to The Vet

Always take your limping cat to the vet to prevent infection or receive a proper diagnosis. Schedule an appointment with your vet if any of the following situations apply to your cat:

  • 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 hesitate to contact your vet immediately if you notice any visible signs of your cat's limping, such as bleeding, swelling, or an abnormal limb position. Taking prompt action is crucial to prevent infection or further deterioration. If you're unsure how to proceed, reach out to your vet for expert guidance on the necessary steps.

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? Contact our Concord vets immediately, or call your nearest after-hours emergency animal hospital for urgent care.

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