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Why is my cat limping?

While cats are graceful animals there are times when nature might still get the best of them and they may become injured. Our New Ulm vets talk about why your cat may be limping and when you should be concerned.

Why a cat may be limping

Limping in cats can be caused by any number of reasons. If your cat is limping and regardless of which leg it is, it's always recommended to bring your cat to the vet to be examined since many conditions that cause limping could become more severe over time, or could possibly lead to infection. Although you may not always be able to easily determine the cause of your cat's limping, first aid could be as simple as trimming their claws or pulling out a thorn.

Cats are predators in the wild and therefore may try to hide any possible injury, so while they may not show that they are in pain, the limping is your biggest sign that they are. Be sure to look for signs of swelling, redness, and open wounds if your cat starts to limp. If you see any of these call a vet immediately.

Common causes of limping

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

What you can do

Once you have acknowledged that your cat is in fact limping, you will want to ensure that you get your cat to be nice and calm. Once you have them relaxed you can run your fingers along the injured area looking for any sensitive areas and for any open wounds, swelling, redness, and dangling limbs. Begin at the paw and work your way up their leg.

Occasionally the issue might be as simple as their nails being too long or they may have a sliver or a thorn stuck in their paw. In these cases, you can use tweezers to gently pull the object out or cut their nails as usual. If you are unable to figure out the cause of the limp and your beloved feline friend is still limping after 24 hours then it is time to make an appointment with your vet. 

If your cat has a broken leg is broken it may be exceptionally difficult to determine because the symptoms are very simple to other possible injuries such as a sprain (swelling, a limp, leg being held in an odd position, lack of appetite), which is why it's important to contact your vet to have your cat examined.

In order to ensure that your cat cannot injure themselves further while you wait to see the vet you should limit your cat's movements as you wait for your vet appointment. It is recommended that they are placed in a carrier or in a room that is free of tall surfaces. Make sure they are comfortable by providing them with blankets and their bed and ensuring that they stay nice and warm. Be sure to continue to monitor your cat for any new or worsening symptoms.

If your cat begins to limp, the best course of action will always be to visit with your vet in order to prevent infection or get a proper diagnosis. If you notice any of the following symptoms in your cat, contact your vet immediately.

  • 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

You need to contact your vet immediately if you notice any signs of bleeding, swelling or if the limb is hanging in an unusual way, in order to prevent infection or a worsening condition. You should also call your vet if you do not know how to handle the situation.

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.

If your feline friend is limping and showing signs of sudden or serious injury, contact our New Ulm vets to have your cat examined. 

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