What to Do If Your Cat Is Limping

Learn what to do if your cat is limping.

Here's the scenario: You're watching TV, and your cat walks by. But something doesn't look right, drawing your attention. Is he limping?

Limping can be difficult to detect in a cat, especially when it's mild. Basically, you need to be aware of what your cat's usual walk looks like, so you can quickly catch any tiny change.

Other times, the limp will be obvious. Your kitty may even be completely holding up one leg.

Whether your cat has a slight or significant limp, you'll need to know what to do. Here are some tips.

First, Know What Causes Lameness

Lameness or limping in cats can be due to an injury or disease process that negatively affects any part of the leg. That could be anything that involves the leg's nerves, bones, muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments, or even, in some cases, skin.

Just because your kitty is holding up a paw doesn't mean it's the paw itself that's affected. It could still be anything up the leg and even into the spine.

How to Determine the Severity of a Limp

The first thing you'll need to do if you detect a gait change in your cat is to gather some information about it. That will require you to observe the cat carefully. Write down what you see so you can tell the vet. Try to answer these questions:

Gather the answers to those questions and anything else you notice and think may be valuable in helping your vet determine what's wrong.

Take Care When Approaching the Kitty

If you decide to try and feel or examine the hurt leg, do so with extreme care. If the leg is painful or you accidentally touch a painful part, the kitty may bite or scratch.

First Aid for Cat Lameness

In general, you should get your limping cat to the vet as soon as possible. Until then, confine him so he can't exacerbate whatever injury may be going on.

But there are some situations for which you may need to do some first aid. Here are some examples:

How to Get a Painful Cat to the Vet

When transporting your lame cat to the vet, put him in a carrier to confine him. If he's painful, be extra careful. If your carrier allows it, you may wish to remove the top, lay the cat inside, and then replace and secure the top of the carrier.

Do Not Give Medications at Home

If your cat is lame, don't forget: Cats are exquisitely sensitive to certain medications. Do not give any human meds (or meds from other pets) without first checking with your veterinarian.

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Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at CatHealth.com is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site. Just Answer is an external service not affiliated with CatHealth.com.