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Cat Limping - When To See The Vet

Cats possess inherent agility, but discomfort and limping may result from accidents or illness. In this post, our vets in Meadow Vista outline several common reasons for feline limping and advise when to seek veterinary attention for your cat.

Why Cats Limp

Countless reasons can cause a cat to start limping. Whether your cat limps on a front leg or back leg, it's crucial to take them to the vet if they have a limp. Many conditions that cause limping could worsen over time or result in infection. While the cause of your cat's limping may not be immediately apparent, administering first aid could be as straightforward as trimming their claws or removing a thorn from their paw.

Cat Limping But Not in Pain

It's crucial to recognize that cats exhibit stoicism. If your cat is limping, it indicates pain, regardless of whether they manifest other symptoms. Make sure to check for signs of swelling, redness, and open wounds if your cat begins to limp. If any of these are observed, promptly contact a vet.

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, wait for them to calm down and relax before assessing their leg. Carefully examine their leg and paw by running your fingers down the site to check for sensitive areas, and look for signs of an open wound, swelling, redness, and dangling limbs. Begin the assessment at their paw and work your way up.

If you discover something like a thorn or overly long nails, gently use tweezers to remove the thorn or trim their nails as usual (or have it done by your vet). If you cannot identify the cause of the limp and your cat continues to limp after 24 hours, schedule an appointment with your vet.

While it might seem counterintuitive, determining if your cat's leg is broken can be challenging, as the symptoms—such as swelling, a limp, holding the leg in an odd position, and lack of appetite—can resemble those of other injuries or a sprain. This is why we recommend contacting your vet if your cat is limping.

Limit your cat's movements as you await the vet appointment to prevent the issue from worsening. Place them in a room with low surfaces or in their carrier. Ensure their comfort by providing a cozy place to sleep or a kitty bed, and keep them warm with their favorite blankets. Continuously 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

Don't wait to consult your vet if you observe a visible cause for your cat's limping, such as bleeding, swelling, or the limb hanging strangely. Immediately call your vet to prevent infection or a worsening condition. If you're unsure how to handle the situation, contact your vet for advice on the necessary actions.

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 Meadow Vista vets immediately, or call your nearest after-hours emergency animal hospital for urgent care.

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Meadow Vista Veterinary Clinic is accepting new patients including dogs, cats and large animals. Get in touch today to book your first appointment.

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