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Cat Limping - When It's Time To Head To The Vet

Cats, being curious and active creatures, often end up injuring themselves. Whether your cat prefers the indoors or enjoys outdoor adventures, numerous factors can cause your cat to limp. In this blog post, our vets in San Jose explore the reasons behind cat limping and offer guidance on what to do if your cat is experiencing this issue.

Why is my cat limping but not in pain?

Understanding why your cat is limping can be challenging because our feline friends cannot communicate their feelings or pain. Cats can limp for various reasons, whether due to something stuck in their paw, a sprain, a break, or an ingrown claw, whether it's their back leg or front leg.

Despite appearances, your cat may be experiencing significant pain. Cats often hide pain as a natural instinct to protect themselves from predators. Therefore, it's crucial to realize that limping is a clear sign of pain, even if they don't show it.

Taking your cat to the vet is the best course of action when they have a limp to prevent potential infections and to prevent their condition from worsening. While identifying the cause of your cat's limp might not be straightforward, the treatment could be as simple as trimming their claws or removing a tiny splinter from their paw.

Regularly monitor your pet's health and observe their normal walking patterns to ensure their well-being. Be vigilant for lumps, bumps, swelling, redness, or open wounds. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your vet. Prioritizing caution is paramount when it comes to your cat's health.

Why is my cat limping all of a sudden?

Limping in cats typically comes on suddenly. Below are just a few of the most 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)
  • Ingrown nail/ claw
  • Being bitten by a bug or other animal
  • Infected or torn nail
  • Arthritis

What should I do if my cat is limping?

If your cat is limping, immediately run your fingers down the affected leg, closely observe your cat's reactions, and check for any sensitive areas. Be vigilant for signs of open wounds, swelling, redness, or, in severe cases, dangling limbs. Start at your cat's paw and gently progress upwards.

If you discover anything like a thorn or splinter, carefully remove it using tweezers and cleanse the area with soap and water. Ensure you monitor the site to prevent any potential infections from developing as the puncture wound heals. For overgrown nails, trim them as usual or seek professional assistance from your vet.

If you cannot identify the cause of your cat's limp, and it persists for more than a day or two, it's imperative to schedule an appointment with your vet.

Recognizing a broken leg in a cat can be challenging because the symptoms of a fracture can resemble those of other injuries, such as a sprain, including swelling, limping, an awkward leg position, and a loss of appetite.

While awaiting your vet appointment, take steps to minimize your cat's movements to prevent further injury or exacerbation. Confine them to a room with low surfaces or place them in their carrier. Ensure their comfort by providing a cozy sleeping spot or kitty bed and keep them warm with their favorite blankets. Continue to monitor their condition closely.

Should I take my cat to the vet for limping?

It is always a good idea to take your cat to the vet for limping to help prevent infection and to 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 clearly broken
  • Your cat is hiding
  • Your cat is howling or showing other clear indications of pain

Call your vet immediately if you notice a visible cause like bleeding, swelling, or the limb hanging in a strange way. This will help prevent infection or a worsening condition. If you're unsure how to handle the situation, contact your vet for expert advice on the necessary actions to take.

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.

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Bloom Plaza Animal Hospital is now welcoming new cat and dog patients! Our professional and talented vets are dedicated to the health of San Jose's companion animals. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for your furry friend. 

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