Why is my cat limping?
24 January, 2012

My sister has a cat named Sylvester that sometimes limps.  I know as cats get older that their joints don’t work as well as they should.  My cat, Sammy, sometimes limps after he gets up from a nap.

Cats can limp for a number of reasons. The injuries causing the limp can be as minor as a torn claw or a scratch on the pad of the foot to more serious and even life threatening causes such as bone breaks or back injuries. Obviously the cat can not tell us where they hurt!  Therefore, we cat owners will need to handle him or her in an effort to establish what the injury is and how it can be treated.


Firs, you should take a look at the cat’s leg and paw. Look for thorns, stickers or anything else that shouldn’t be there. The most common cause for limping is when a foreign object gets caught between the pads of the foot.  Some other causes might be a broken toenail or claw, a cut or scratch to the pad of the foot or a burn to the pad of the foot.

The only way to isolate the cause of the foot pain is to hold the foot.  Obviously, be careful if you your cat is in pain. Even a very tame and docile cat can defensively cut and scratch you when a painful extremity is handled.

My paw hurts!

Once the cause of the limp is detected, it can be treated. Cuts or burns can be treated by antiseptics to prevent infections. Foreign objects can be removed with tweezers while broken claws need time to heal. Be sure to contact a veterinarian for any problem that you don’t feel comfortable treating.


Injuries to the leg and shoulder can affect the bone or muscle. Any injury to the skin can become infected creating an abscess. This type of injury is usually easily visible and can be treated with antibiotics.

Injuries to the bones and joints of the leg are more serious. All bone fractures will cause swelling of the area around the break. A dislocated fracture can cause the leg to have an abnormal look and may have a bend in an improper location. Broken bones are treated by splinting the bone and immobilizing the leg as much as possible.  And, you should definitely go see your veterinarian for the treatment of broken bones.


While cats of any age can get a back injury, the problem is common in older cats. Limping due to back injuries might be only temporary. Consult a veterinarian if the problems continue.

I hope these tips help and that your cat doesn’t have a serious injury.

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