My Cat Is Limping!

by Darlene
(Phila., PA)


I have a 13 1/2 year old cat. Lately she has been limping around the house. It seems to be her right front leg. I have been looking at her leg and pressing gently on different spots to see if any part is bothering her and it doesn't seem to bother her. I was wondering if you would be able to give me any input in what this could possibly be. Any help would be so much appreciated. Thank you so very much!

Hi, Darlene,

It would be impossible for me to have any idea why your cat is limping without seeing her. However, I can certainly tell you some of the things that could make a cat limp.

A cat's front legs are very much like our arms. They have shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers and nails although they're not called that. They have the same bones in their front legs that we have in our arms. Therefore, a lot of the same things that can affect people can affect cats too.

Cats get pulled muscles, trauma to any part of the leg, arthritis, injury to tendons or ligaments, ingrown claws, cuts, burns, broken bones, infections, inflammation, and cancer.

All I can tell you is that if she is limping, then something is wrong. It could be very simple. She may have hurt a muscle when jumping down from the bed or sofa. Most of the time, this will go away with time. At her age, it could be as serious as cancer, but I'm by no
means suggesting it is or trying to worry you. There's just a wide spectrum of possible causes and treatments.

In addition to lightly pressing on her leg, you can see if she will let you flex and extend her joints, checking for pain, or a "gritty" sort of feeling that may indicate arthritis. Also, check her claws and paws carefully. Ingrown claws are common as cats get older. She also could have stepped on a sliver of glass or other foreign object.

Check between her "toes" also. Sometimes there will be inflammation or infection there. Look for redness, moisture, or odor.

If you can, restrict her activity to some extent for a few days by keeping her out of rooms where she can jump up and down too much. You can also place objects on tables or countertops so she can't jump up temporarily. Decreasing her usage
of the leg can give it time to recover if it is something simple.

Do NOT give any human pain medication to her because most of it is very dangerous for cats, often leading to death.

If she is not doing better already or within a few days, she should be seen by a vet. Of course, if at any time, she is not eating or drinking or using the litter box, she should be seen right away.

Thank you,
Dr. Neely

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