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Should I take my cat to the vet for limping?

There are many causes of a cat limping, from ingrown claws to a broken leg. Today our Bonita Springs vets explain some of the reasons a cat may be limping and how to know if they need immediate veterinary care. 

My Cat is Limping

Unfortunately, our pets aren't able to tell us when or why they are in pain, so figuring out why your cat is limping can be difficult. Cats can limp for many reasons from ingrown claws to sprains and cuts. 

Remember, if your cat is limping it's a sign that they are experiencing pain, even if they don't have any other visible symptoms. 

It's always best to take your cat to the vet if they have a limp in order to avoid the possibility of infection and to help keep their condition from worsening. The cause of your cat's limp might not be easy to spot but the treatment could be as simple as trimming their claws or pulling out a thorn.

Reasons Why Your Cat May Be Limping

Below we have listed a few 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
  • Spinal injuries, such as a slipped disk 

What To Do About a Limping Cat

If your cat is limping keep them calm and relaxed as you assess their leg. Gently run your fingers down their leg, looking for cuts, swelling, redness, broken bones, and any notable points of pain or discomfort. Start at your kitty's paw and work your way up.

If the cause of the limping is something like a stuck thorn, gently pull the thorn out with tweezers and clean the area with soap and water. Be sure to keep an eye on the area to ensure that an infection doesn't take hold as the puncture wound heals. If overgrown nails are the issue simply trim your cat's nails as usual (or have it done by your vet). 

If your cat is experiencing a minor limp that persists for 24 hours, or cannot bear any weight on their leg at all (regardless of how long it's been), you should bring your cat to the vet to be assessed. Injuries of the spine or broken legs require immediate medical attention. 

While waiting for your veterinary appointment, you should limit your cat's movements to keep them from causing further injury or making it worse. Do this by keeping them in a room with low surfaces, or putting them in their carrier. Make sure they are comfortable by providing them with a comfy place to sleep and keeping them warm with their favorite blankets. Continue to monitor their situation.

When 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 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 or excessive bleeding
  • The limb is dangling in an odd position
  • They are unable to walk 

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? At Southwest Florida Veterinary Specialists we provide 24/7 emergency services. Contact us or bring your pet in for expert veterinary care.

Our 24/7 Emergency Care in Bonita Springs 

Contact (239) 992-8387