There’s nothing worse than realizing that your favorite feline friend is in pain or suffering, but every now and then, just as with people, there will be times when your cat has an injury or finds themselves suffering from a medical condition.
You can’t help but constantly question, of course: Is my cat limping? What are the cat limping causes? Why are they not eating properly? Are they in pain? Suffering? Can I – as an owner – do something to help?
Why don’t we take a closer look and get you some answers?
This article was reviewed by our expert veterinarian, Chris Vanderhoof (DMV).
Why is My Cat Limping All of a Sudden?
Just as with humans, cats and other animals will limp when they have injured themselves. Sometimes, this injury can be minor, perhaps just a bump, a graze, or a bruise. At other times, however, the injury isn’t so minor – a broken or fractured leg, a sprained ankle, or a twisted knee, among many others.
What happened immediately before the limp started? Did your furry friend have an accident? A fall? An awkward landing? A bash against something hard or sharp?
Can you see any injuries on your cat? Open wounds make life easier, of course, but what if the injury is internal, such as a joint issue or muscle problem?
If it isn’t obvious why your cat is limping, and the limp doesn’t seem to go away, it might be time to take your feline to the vet. Just because you can’t see a fracture or broken bone, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
My Cat is Limping But Not Crying – What’s Wrong?
Here’s an interesting fact about most cats: they don’t often display pain or discomfort. If your cat is limping but not crying, don’t take it at face value.
Because cats have a habit of not displaying just how much pain they are in, if yours does appear to be in actual pain, or is displaying signs of distress or fear, it’s time to grab the kitty-box and make an emergency appointment with your vet.
Signs of distress in a cat look like this:
- Hissing when you approach them;
- Biting or scratching when you try to touch them;
- Flinching in obvious pain;
- Meowing in an unusual tone, pitch or volume;
- Retreating or running away.
To put your mind at ease, it is unlikely that your cat will be walking around if the injury is a break, fracture or dislocation. It can happen, of course, but a more serious injury would usually immobilize your pet a little more than just a limp.
Why is My Cat Limping on the Front Paw?
Have you taken a peek at your cat’s paw? It could be the case that your poor kitty has something wedged between their toes, or nestled alongside their pads. Chances are, removing the item will remove the discomfort – and then the limp.
An ingrown claw could cause your cat to limp, as could a wound that has been ignored and has become infected.
It could also be the case that an insect has bitten or stung your poor kitty, such as a bee or a spider; or your cat could have been in a fight with another cat in the neighborhood, or other animals in the area.
Cat Limping But Still Jumping, Should I Be Worried?
Without sounding dramatic, yes, you should be worried about a cat that limps and still jumps, for the same reason that you should be worried when a cat limps but doesn’t cry out in pain: most cats won’t show you that they are in pain.
An injured cat is a vulnerable cat – and one that can easily become prey. In order to avoid this, cats maintain a cool, calm, aloofness whenever they are hurting.
Your kitty could be in pain without you even realizing.
Why is My Cat Limping and Sleeping a Lot?
In order to get to the bottom of why you have a limping cat that also sleeps a lot, you will likely need to visit your vet.
As previously mentioned, unless your cat’s limp has been caused by a wound or object that you can quite clearly see and treat and/or remove, or you witnessed the cat befalling some sort of injury, there’s a chance you won’t have a clue why your cat has started to act differently.
If you don’t know what is causing it, you can’t put it right. Until you do put it right, there is a chance that your cat is in pain or discomfort. A useful tool in this case would be to observe your kitty's actions and whereabouts around the house when you are away from home. This can easily be achieved and implemented with the help of an interactive cat camera by Petcube.
Some of the common medical causes of a limping cat, aside from breaks, fractures, dislocations, etc., include:
These are all conditions that require medical intervention and treatment.
Cat Limping After Vaccine – Is This Normal?
If your cat or kitten has recently had vaccinations and has started to develop a limp, you should consult with a vet or animal care specialist. According to research, in rare cases, FCV, also known as feline calicivirus, can cause limping, and it is referred to as ‘Limping Syndrome’. This seems to be less common with modern and more advanced vaccinations and now rarely happens.
A vaccination (or having blood taken) from the leg is also likely to be a little sore. If your cat is known for being a little melodramatic (like mine is!), you might find that they play on the sore leg for much longer than is necessary, in order to get sympathy (like mine does!).
Read more: Pet Vaccinations Guide for Cats & Dogs
When Should I Call a Vet When My Cat is Lethargic and Limping?
It is recommended that you try to schedule an appointment with a vet as soon as you realize that something is not right with your furry friend. It’s always better to be safe rather than sorry, and with most medical incidents, the sooner the problem is diagnosed and then treated, the sooner life can go back to happy normal again.
You shouldn’t wait longer than 24 hours to call for professional advice if your cat is limping, experiences lethargy, and other symptoms.
Emergency Fund by Petcube
If you’re worried about the health of your kitty, but you’re also worried about the state of your bank account, why not have a look at the Emergency Fund provided by Petcube? The process is simple and quick, allowing you to focus on getting your pet back in tip-top shape, and you can protect your pet for less than $1 per day.
You’ll get to see a local vet within 4 hours of your call, and you won’t have to worry about those costly vet bills!
My Cat is Limping But the Vet Says There’s Nothing Wrong
I’m just going to say this as plainly as I can…
Cats can be real jokers sometimes.
My cat will fake injury to get sympathy at the drop of a hat – a limp here, a squinty eye there, a weird meow for no apparent reasons.
If you have gotten your kitty checked out by the vet and they say there’s nothing wrong, you could always seek out a second opinion. Alternatively, you might want to face the reality that your cat is a bit of a prankster/attention-junkie/pain in the butt.
Why is My Cat Limping on Back Leg?
Your cat might be limping on the back leg(s) for the same reasons that they might be limping on the front ones: because of injury or illness.
My Cat Has a Swollen Paw and is Limping: What Should I Do?
In some cases, such as with a stone or a thorn, you can simply remove the thing that is causing the problem, wash the wound to keep it clean and infection-free, and your cat will be right-as-rain if a bit sore for a couple of days. In other cases, however, the situation could be a little more complex and will require vet intervention.
What Should I Do About a Cat Limping After a Fight?
If you know that your cat has had a fight, it’s always a good idea to get them checked out by a vet. You won’t always know the other animal, and it won’t always be a cat. And even if it was another cat, you have no idea whether that cat was feral, a stray, vaccinated, etc. If your cat is limping and appears to have had a fight, it’s time to call the vet.