What Should You Do If Your Cat Start Limping?

Limping is a symptom that your cat is in pain. Learn about the most frequent causes of lameness in cats, how to treat them at home, and when to take them to the vet.

When you see your cat limping, you know he’s in agony, and it breaks your heart. Because you’re aware that your pet is in distress. From a tiny thorn in the paw to a fractured limb, many things might cause your cat’s front or back legs to become lame.

The first step in making your cat feel better is to figure out why they’re limping. Learn about the most prevalent causes of lameness and when it’s time to seek medical help.

Also read: Why Do Dogs Bite Themselves

What Causes Cats to Limp? 

Any number of things can cause cats to limp. Here, Erick Mears, DVM, DACVIM, medical director of BluePearl Pet Hospital in Tampa Bay, Florida, breaks down some of the most common issues. 


Cats who limp are frequently injured in some way, such as falling from a high perch or being hit by a car. Strains, broken bones, open wounds, and ligament and tendon rips are all examples of traumatic injuries. You may see swelling, wounds, or bruises if your cat has sustained this type of injury.

A fractured or dislocated bone in your cat’s leg could suggest a broken or dislocated bone.

A limping cat may have an injured paw that is causing him discomfort. Cats may avoid a leg if something is lodged in their paw, such as a thorn or shards of glass. A damaged or infected nail that has grown into the paw can also be painful. For a cat’s paw pads, even walking on a bleach-coated surface might be painful.

Also read: How to Select a Harness for Your Dog


When cats develop arthritis, they may walk stiffly or with a limp. Cats’ cartilage (the material between their bones) can wear down as they age, much like people’s. As a result, there is more friction in certain joints, causing irritation.

The best thing you can do at home is try to figure out what’s causing your cat’s pain. You can lightly touch the leg of your calm cat to see which place is sensitive. Start with the paws and work your way up while inspecting your cat’s leg.

It could be as simple as plucking out a thorn or cutting an overgrown toenail to solve the problem. Make an appointment with your veterinarian if you can’t figure out what’s causing your cat to hobble after 24 to 48 hours. They can examine the limb thoroughly and provide pain medicines, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatories if necessary.

Restrict your cat’s movement while you wait for your veterinary appointment at home—in a carrier, dog kennel, or bathroom—and never give your cat a human pain killer. It’s possible that it’s toxic to your cat.

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

“If you see swelling, an open wound, or your cat’s leg is hanging in a strange way, seek immediate veterinary attention,” Mears says. “Don’t wait for 48 hours to pass because infection could set in or the injury (like a broken leg) could worsen.”

If you’re not sure what to do, give your vet a call. Share how long your cat has been limping and any other symptoms you’ve noticed. Your vet can let you know if the situation is urgent and the best way to help your kitty get back to strutting on all four legs again.