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Why is my cat limping?

There are a number of reasons your cat may be limping, from a stuck thorn to a broken bone. Today, our Charlotte vets share some potential causes of a cat limping and what you should do if you notice your cat has developed a limp. 

Help! Why is my cat limping all of a sudden?

There are many reasons why your cat might be limping ranging from something as simple as a small cut to a larger issue such as a broken bone. In the case of a minor problem like a small cut or stuck thorn, at-home first aid may suffice, but be sure to monitor them for any signs of worsening pain or signs of infection (swelling, redness, a bad odor, pus, or bleeding). 

If you can't determine the cause of the limping, or the limping has persisted for over 24 hours, you should bring your cat to the vet for assessment.

Orange cat with a bandaged paw being held by gloved hands

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

What should I do if my cat is limping?

If your cat is limping try and wait until they are relaxed before examining their leg. When they are calm carefully assess their leg and paw. Start at their paw and work your way up. You are looking for any sensitive areas, open wounds, bleeding, swelling, redness, or visibly broken bones.

If it is something such as a thorn or nails that are too long just gently pull the thorn out with tweezers or cut their nails as usual (or have it done by your vet). If you are unable to figure out the cause of the limp and your beloved kitty is still limping after 24 hours make an appointment with your vet. 

In order to prevent the condition from becoming worse, limit your cat's movements as you wait for your vet appointment. Do this by keeping them in a room with low surfaces, or putting them in their carrier. Keep your cat comfortable by providing them with a soft, warm place to curl up as you continue to monitor the situation. 

Should I take my cat to the vet for limping?

It may be a good idea to err on the side of caution and take your cat to the vet for limping to prevent infection and get a proper diagnosis. In particular, if any of the following situations apply to your cat make an appointment with your vet immediately:

  • You can't identify the cause
  • They have been limping for more than 24 hours
  • Your cat is unable to stand at all 
  • There is swelling
  • An open wound
  • The limb is dangling in an odd position

If there is evidence of bleeding or a broken bone, you should bring your cat to the nearest emergency veterinary clinic to get them proper care as soon as possible. 

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.

Are you concerned about your cat's limp? Our Charlotte vets treat emergencies during our clinic hours. Contact us or bring your cat in for assistance as soon as possible.

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