Why Is My Cat Limping?

Limping (lameness) in cats can be mild or quite noticeable, depending on the situation. You may notice your cat occasionally holding up his or her paw or bouncing on three legs, or you may notice your cat routinely not placing any weight on his or her paw at all, depending on the situation. Severe lameness needs immediate veterinary attention because your cat is likely to be quite unhappy and in need of pain relief medication. Never give your cat any pain-relieving medicine without first contacting a veterinarian, as some medicines are poisonous to cats and should not be administered.

Signs of Cat Limping

Your cat’s limping could be caused by a variety of factors. Some illnesses, ranging from a thorn in their paw to a degenerative ailment to shattered bones, are easier to diagnose than others, and some are more difficult to diagnose.

Your cat can display signs of lameness in the following ways:

  • Running and walking at a slower pace or in an unusual manner
  • Inconsistency in the way one is groomed
  • Excessive licking of a specific portion of the body
  • Avoiding putting pressure on the affected area and keeping the paw off the floor
  • Muscle atrophy in the vicinity of the afflicted area
  • Swelling of the joints and surrounding tissues

Most Common Causes of Limping in Cats

The common causes of limping in cats are in further detail below, but here are a few examples:

  1. Ingestion of a foreign object in the paw
  2. Injuries
  3. Infection
  4. Genetic disorders
  5. Feline arthritis
  6. Immune illnesses

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1.     Ingestion of a Foreign Object in the Paw

Cats that live outside can get into a lot of trouble. Cat owners are all too acquainted with their feline returning home from a “night out” with burrs in their fur, leaves stuck to their tummies, and thorns, pine needles, or random pieces of brush lodged in their paw pads and paw pads with burrs in them.

If your cat is one of the following, you may find evidence of anything foreign in the paw:

  • limping
  • putting one foot off the ground at a time
  • licking one paw obsessively for an extended period


Cats are naturally curious and exploratory creatures. If you allow your cat out into the yard, you can’t expect them to stay clean or avoid getting a thorn in their paw now and then. These are the kinds of things that come with being an adventurous thrill-seeker in the great outdoors.


Hopefully, the majority of these cases may be resolved at home without the need for veterinary intervention. Pulling a trim stick or pine needle out of your cat’s paw is one thing; however, if your cat’s injury appears to be severe and veterinary assistance is required immediately.

If your cat is bleeding blood due to stepping or falling on something more dangerous, call your veterinarian and have them deal with the situation as soon as possible. It is possible that removing the object that has penetrated the skin will cause more harm than good in severe circumstances, such as our serious wounds if it is done poorly.

2.     Injuries

Injuries in cats might result in them hobbling. When they leaped from the top of the refrigerator to the floor again, it’s possible that they forgot they didn’t have wings and landed weirdly.

It is referred to as “high-rise syndrome” when cats tend to jump from excessively high positions. More than anything, this syndrome is about cat parents taking responsibility for their cats’ well-being and safety rather than about cats making terrible judgments.

We are aware that cats do not have the same fear of heights that we have. Cats are completely unafraid of open windows that are two, three, or even twenty stories high. Just because your cat appears to be invulnerable does not imply that they are. As a result of high-rise syndrome, a person may sustain any of the following injuries:

  • Bones that have been broken
  • Dislocation
  • Sprains and strains

3.     Infection

Infection of the joint can occur following an injury to the joint or after joint surgery. As a result of a disease, septic arthritis can develop in cats, albeit it is unusual and more prevalent in dogs.

Septic arthritis occurs when an infectious agent or bacteria is injected into a joint and causes inflammation. This infection results in swollen and painful joints in the area that has been affected.

The following are the signs and symptoms of septic arthritis:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Joints that are warm, swollen, and sore
  • A lack of desire to eat
  • Reluctance to make a change


In order to keep joints and other portions of the body from becoming infected:

  • Provide adequate aftercare for a cat that has been harmed or is healing.
  • Attend all of your follow-up appointments after a cat has undergone surgery or sustained an injury.
  • Be alert of your cat’s behavior and report any symptoms to your veterinarian as soon as possible.
  • The most productive form of prevention is to assist in the preservation of healthy joints and cartilage.


Cats with severe infections may require the following treatments:

  • The delivery of intravenous fluids and the administration of antibiotics to treat the disease are made possible through hospitalization.
  • It may be required to perform surgery and remove the afflicted joint to eradicate the infection.
  • Flushing the joint with a solution to get rid of the infection is another option.

Following any therapy for infection, a veterinarian must order that all exercise be discontinued to ensure that disease and suffering do not recur.

4.     Genetic Disorders

The following are examples of hereditary illnesses that commonly affect cats:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Myopathies

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a congenital illness in which the ball and socket of the hip joint are misaligned, resulting in laxity in the ligaments and the inability to move the hip joint smoothly. Pain and edema are associated with chronic dislocation of the hip joint.

Some breeds are more at risk of hip dysplasia than others, while others are more susceptible. Hip dysplasia affects 20 percent of long-haired cats, but just 5 percent of short-haired breeds are affected by the condition.


Hip dysplasia may unavoidably present itself in some cats, but there are several things you can do to keep things lubricated and running more smoothly in the meantime, including:

  • Joint and mobility supplements to aid in the preservation of healthy tissue and the repair of injured tissue.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, which aid in lubrication and healing
  • Avoiding twisting and manipulating the hip joint is essential.


Cats respond effectively to non-surgical treatments in the vast majority of situations.

Hip dysplasia might be treated in one of two ways: surgically or nonsurgically.

A musculoskeletal condition has been passed down through generations, such as that extra toe that you think is so cute. Over time, having different fingers on the paws might result in a misaligned gait, resulting in injury to the joint.

Myopathies are diseases that affect the voluntary control of muscles in the body and are classified as follows: Myopathies are diseases that produce significant muscle weakness and can, in some cases, be the cause of a cat’s limping.

5.     Arthritis in the Cat

Arthritis, also recognized as degenerative joint disease, is characterized by swelling of the joints caused by the breakdown of cartilage.

Feline arthritis has two types: Rheumatoid and Osteoarthritis.

  1. Rheumatoid Arthritis: It occurs when the immune system attacks the joints that are not inflamed. Fortunately, this is a less common occurrence in cats.
  2. Osteoarthritis: Cats can suffer from osteoarthritis, commonly known as “feline degenerative joint disease,” caused by various factors. Osteoarthritis is a common disorder in which cartilage is damaged and bone forms around the joint. It can be caused by anything from previous traumas to hip dysplasia. Bone scrapes against bone when there is no cartilage to cushion and protect the joints, resulting in stiff joints and severe inflammation. cartilage

A feline degenerative joint disease will affect 60 percent to 90 percent of all cats at some point in their lives.

The cause of arthritis is:

  • Genetics
  • A trauma or damage
  • Obesity
  • Age


Some cats may be more prone to osteoarthritis than others, according to some research. Cats suffering from inherited diseases such as hip dysplasia are more likely than other cats to develop arthritis later on in life as a result of constant bone-to-bone contact, recurrent dislocation of the hip joint, and cartilage deterioration.

Trauma or Injury

Joints, tendons, muscle tissues, and ligaments can all be damaged due to an injury. Cats with arthritis and limping are frequently affected by this damage, which occurs in conjunction with expected degradation.

Cats are virulent and fearless creatures who are not afraid to take risks to survive. Please consider what harmful behaviors your cat exhibits on a regular basis and begin implementing preventative measures to avoid them.


Particular cats are capable of acting as “free eaters.” Those who own these cats can confidently keep food out for them, knowing that they would not overindulge themselves to the point of overeating. The most effective method is to take preventative precautions.

Choose high-quality, nutritional foods for your cat, and adhere to a regular feeding plan for your cat as well. Make sure to provide enough food for your cat; cats do not stick to crash diets in the same way that humans do. Use the serving sizes recommended based on the weight of your cat’s body.


In mammals, cartilage or muscles, tendons or ligaments, and other connective tissues degenerate as they grow older. The most common cause of Arthritis is advancing age. Cats may begin to show signs of Arthritis when they are seven years of age or older.

It doesn’t matter how much we would like to keep our cats young indefinitely. It is simply not possible. Preventative actions, on the other hand, can be done to extend and accelerate the growth of healthy cartilage, such as the following:

  • Supplements
  • Omega-3s
  • Consumption of nutritious foods


6.     Immune Diseases

The following immune diseases are possible inclusions:

  • Bone cancer
  • Feline Calicivirus

Bone cancer

Osteosarcoma, often known as bone cancer, accounts for nearly all bone tumors (95 percent).

Osteosarcoma can be classified into the following types:

  • Chondrosarcoma –cancer that develops in cartilage cells.
  • Hemangiosarcoma — a cancer of the blood vessels
  • Fibrosarcoma – a cancer of the soft tissues or the skin

What are the indications and symptoms of bone cancer in cats?

  • Swelling or the formation of a bulk
  • Appetite loss or difficulty in consuming food
  • Limping and being unable to walk
  • Challenges in taking a breath
  • Lethargy
  • A seizure or shaky walking are examples of neurologic symptoms.

There are a variety of therapy options available for a cat suffering from bone cancer.

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Amputation of the affected limb, or you can choose to have it amputated.
  • Affected bones are removed and replaced with bone from either your pet or a bone bank in a limb-saving procedure.

Feline Calicivirus

Cat flu is also known as feline upper respiratory tract sickness and is the most common cause of limping in cats. Feline calicivirus is the common cause of limping in cats.

Symptoms of FCV include:

  • a runny nose and watery eyes
  • conjunctivitis
  • fever
  • ulcers in the mouth
  • lameness

Calicivirus has been found in studies to affect the membrane that surrounds the joints. Sometimes, when a cat has FCV, the virus can be fully isolated to the joints, resulting in lameness that ranges from being confined to a small area to some cats being unwilling to move at all.

Lameness in cats associated with feline calicivirus has been documented so frequently that the disorder has been dubbed “limping syndrome.” Pyrexia, often known as a high body temperature, is related to lameness and limping. In most cases, stiffness and pain decrease within two to three days after the virus has completed its course of action.


It is more likely that kittens between the ages of 8 and 12 weeks will be infected with feline calicivirus. Like the human influenza vaccination, some of the known symptoms of calicivirus infection can be induced by the calicivirus vaccine, particularly in kittens.

FCV can induce swelling in more than one joint at the same time. Polyarthritis is the term used to describe this illness.


In most cases, cats recover from the flu caused by the feline calicivirus quite quickly and without the need for extensive medical treatment or intervention. If the symptoms are severe, your veterinarian may be able to prescribe anti-inflammatory medications or antibiotics.

First Aid Home Remedies for Cat

The most important thing you can do at home is to try to determine the source of your cat’s discomfort if at all possible. To determine which portion of the cat’s leg is sensitive, you can lightly touch it while the animal is resting. Examine your cat’s leg from the bottom up, starting with the paws and working your way up.

It may be as simple as plucking out a thorn or cutting an overgrown toenail to eradicate the problem. Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian if you cannot locate the basis of the limping and your cat continues to limp after 24 to 48 hours. In this case, they can perform a comprehensive examination of the leg and prescribe treatments such as pain relievers, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory medications.

Keep your cat contained in a carrier, dog cage, or bathroom while you wait for your veterinary appointment. Never give your cat a pain reliever intended for humans while you are waiting for your appointment. It may be poisonous to your cat.

When Should You Take Your Cat to the Veterinarian for a Limp?

Immediately seek veterinarian assistance if you notice swelling, an open cut, or if your cat’s leg appears to be hanging unusually. It is important not to wait until 48 hours have passed because the infection could set in, or the damage (such as a broken leg) could worsen.

When in doubt, give your veterinarian a call for assistance. Also, tell them how long your cat has been limping and if there are any other symptoms you’ve observed. Your veterinarian might be able to tell you if the issue is urgent and what the most significant course of action is to get your cat back to strutting on all four legs.

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