Symptoms Of Sprains In Cats
The cat who has injured one of its limbs will let its owner know that its in pain, especially if the pain is significant:
- Meowing or crying after getting hurt
- Lack of appetite
- Inability to use the injured limb
- Swelling of the injured limb
- Personality changes
Veterinarians grade sprain injuries according to how much joint and ligament damage is present:
- Grade 1: Parts of the ligament are torn. The cat experiences some swelling and pain.
- Grade 2: Ligament is partially torn or greatly stretched. The cat experiences swelling and inability to comfortably use the limb.
- Grade 3: Ligament is completely torn. The affected bones are no longer joined by the ligament. Surgery is required.
Causes Of Front Leg Injury In Cats
A few things more commonly cause injuries to a cats front leg. Some can be extremely severe, while others can be treated rather easily. No matter, if your cat experiences any of the following, it is important to seek professional treatment to ensure that they heal properly:
- A bite from an animal or insect can lead to an infection of the limb.
- Traumatic accidents such as being struck by a motor vehicle or falling from heights can cause severe injuries.
- Jumping can cause tears or strains on soft tissues or joints.
- Landing from heights can injure front legs.
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:
- Which leg is affected? That can be tricky to determine if the cat isn’t holding up the leg. Take your time to figure out which leg isn’t right and be sure to mark it down based on which one it is for the cat, not for you as you face him.
- When does the limp occur? Is the limp constant or only when your cat is doing a particular thing like running or jumping? Is it only in the morning and then gets better, or does it start OK but worsen as the day progresses?
- Is your kitty licking or chewing at a particular area on the affected leg? If so, do what you can to dissuade him until you can get to the vet for a diagnosis.
- Is there any visible swelling? Swelling can indicate an , fracture, or sprain.
Gather the answers to those questions and anything else you notice and think may be valuable in helping your vet determine what’s wrong.
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Signs That Should Not Be Ignored
If you find that your cat has any of the following symptoms, call your veterinarian right away to make an appointment.;
- Blood in its urine or stool
- Crying or moaning in pain
- Swelling or excessive heat coming from the wound or injured area
- Urinating or defecating outside of the litter box
While some of these symptoms may not seem to be life-threatening, they can become an issue if they are left untreated. It is always better to be safe than sorry. When in doubt, call the veterinarian.;
Veterinarians can take x-rays and perform diagnostic tests to see if there is a deeper issue such as cancer or an internal infection that needs to be addressed.;
Diagnosis Of Front Leg Injury In Cats
Due to the broad range of causes and types of leg injuries, a veterinarian will be sure to conduct a comprehensive examination to determine just how to handle your cat’s injury. One of the first steps a vet will take is asking for a complete medical history. This can help determine if the issues with your cat’s front legs are due to illnesses or injuries.
Next, your cat will undergo a complete physical examination. During this evaluation, your cat may be sedated in order for the tests to be performed adequately and without causing further stress to the animal. If your cat has been bitten or has an open wound, your veterinarian will check the site for any infections. Blood work may be done as well to determine your cat’s overall health. Another primary test that may be recommended is a standard X-ray.
Your veterinarian may also wish to check for instability which is done by overextending the damaged limb, otherwise known as a stress radiograph. This particular test is usually done in the case of damage to the ligaments such as the case with carpal hyperextension. In the case of a major trauma, it can sometimes lead to internal damage.;
You can assist in the diagnosis process by keeping track of the signs your cat has presented and how long these signs have been occurring.
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Symptoms That Often Accompany Limping In Cats
Does your cat show reluctance to bear weight on any of her legs? Do you notice any swelling or abnormal appearance of the limb?
Other symptoms that may accompany stiffness in a cat include skipping gait, lumps or bumps and obvious trauma. She may not be jumping around as much or be reluctant to use the stairs.
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Limping in cats can be subtle or very obvious. You may see your cat holding up his/her paw or hopping on three legs from time to time, or you may see your cat consistently not putting any weight on his/her paw at all. Severe lameness needs prompt veterinary attention, as your cat is likely very uncomfortable and in need of medication to relieve pain. Do not give your cat any pain medication without consulting with a veterinarian, as some medications are toxic to cats.
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Cat Sprained Leg Symptoms
Before we get into the details of detecting a sprained leg, its important to understand what it means and what our furry baby might be experiencing.
A sprain is a soft tissue injury that happens when a ligament is stretched far beyond its capabilities. This over-stretching causes the ligament to pull or even tear, causing pain and inflammation.
Sprains can be easily confused with other types of soft tissue injuries because their symptoms are very similar.
Why Your Cat Is Limping
So you’re thinking My cat is limpingwhy? That could be any of a number of reasons.;Best;case scenario is she just got her paw squished in a;door way, but she’ll be fine after sulking behind the couch for a few hours.
Perhaps she just walked in some mud or the new kitty litter sticks too much to her feet. In that case, the solution is just to clean your cat’s feet with a mildly damp cloth.
If the has a stinger, burr or thorn in her paw, you have to grab the tweezers and make like Androcles. A minor cut is painful but easily cleaned and bandaged. Just remember to use antiseptic formulated;specially;for cats.
A torn claw can be fixed with pet nail clippers. If it’s bleeding a little, silver nitrate or styptic powder could clear it up. Cornstarch also works.
There are more serious causes of limping that may require veterinary care. While you are discouraged from declawing a perfectly healthy cat, damage to the base of the claw may mean you have to take her to the vet to get it removed. It could be frostbite or damage to her joints or ligaments. A bone could be damaged. It could be an infection or an abscess. Heartworm migration can cause limping. It could be cancer, but arthritis is much more likely, especially in older cats.
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My Cat Is Limping But Not Crying
To find out why our cat is limping, we need to take a look at the affected limb. By looking at how they place their leg on the ground, we can get a better idea of where the injury or wound is located. We should never assume the nature of the injury, but we also need to be careful when examining the limb. If we manipulate it too much, we might exacerbate the injury. This is why it is so important to first observe how they walk.
Through observation, we can see if the cat is limping on their front leg or limping on their back leg. We can also see how they put pressure on the ground. If the cat is trying not to touch their paw to the floor, it is possible there is an injury to their paw pad. If the cat is limping, but they are able to place their whole foot on the ground, the injury is likely further up the leg.
As we state above, cats are known for their durability. This means it is not uncommon for a cat to be limping, but not make any sound to alert us to their pain. They may have cried out when the injury happened, but we won’t necessarily have been present. Even if we touch the affected area, they may still not make a noise. Hopefully this is a good sign that the injury is not serious. However, it can become worse by not healing properly or even leading to infection.
How Veterinarians Diagnose Lameness In Cats
Vets will give your cat a full physical exam to look for signs of lameness and to identify the underlying cause of lameness. They will talk to you about any behavioral changes youve seen, so write down your cats symptoms as you see them before the appointment.
They may find obvious causes of trauma, like foreign bodies embedded in the paw pad. If its an ingrown nail, veterinarians will trim the nail, clean the wound, and likely prescribe a course of antibiotics. If its a wound, they may clip some hair, clean it, and flush the area.
If the cause isnt obvious, vets will need to do further testing. X-rays are the most common test they will do to determine the cause of limping. If an x-ray does not give the answer, they may have to resort to more complicated tests, such asCT scans, MRIs, or ultrasounds. They may even need to do blood testing to look for infectious diseases or immune system diseases.
Veterinarians may complete a neurological exam if they suspect the cause is neurological.
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Common Reasons For Limping In Cats
As mentioned above, there are many factors that could contribute to your cats limping. The following list shows some reasons commonly seen in the veterinary practice that could be the cause:;
- A foreign object is stuck in its paw/ingrown toenail
- A pulled muscle, ligament, or tendon
- Falling/jumping injury
- Getting hit by a car
- Wound from an altercation with another cat or wild animal
Now that you know some of the leading causes for limping in cats, let’s get into the rarer but not unheard of causes.
How You Can Help Your Cat Recover From Limping At Home
As a pet parent, you just need to keep your cat as comfortable as possible. Your cat will appreciate lots of cuddles and compliments! Always follow your veterinarians recommendations and take your cat for follow-up appointments as needed.
Your cat may be put on cage rest, but otherwise keep them inside. You may need to administer pain medication, antibiotics, or anti-inflammatory medicines.
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Possible Causes Of Cat Limping
Though you may never know what happened to cause your cats limping, there are some common causes of lameness or limping in cats.
Orthopedic Problems: Jumping from Heights Can Hurt CatsBe cautious with open windows as our cats are naturally curious. They could jump or fall from an open window and be injured or worse. Be sure that your window screens are secure or have an extra guard or grate in place to prevent your cat from pushing screens out. Never leave windows open when you are not at home, and monitor behavior if windows are open. Many cats love to explore high perches in our homes, too. Even jumping from a tall dresser or shelf can result in injuries and cat limping, especially in older and smaller cats.
Other orthopedic conditions, like a kneecap being out of place may also cause limping. Your veterinarian or our specialists can examine your cat to determine if this is the cause.
Arthritis Can Also Cause Cat LimpingCat limping, changes in walking, stiffness, and difficulty jumping or climbing could mean that your pet is getting older and that they are suffering from arthritis joint pain. If your cat limping or other pain symptoms do not improve within 24 hours, have the limp examined by a veterinarian to avoid any additional, long-term damage.
Signs That Your Cat Needs To See A Veterinarian
- Limping persists for more than a few days
- Swelling of the affected limb
- Inability to walk or run normally
- Reluctance to perform an everyday activity, like jumping on a perch
- Unwillingness to bear weight on the affected limb
- Affected leg are at an unnatural angle
- Vocal behavior , suggesting that your cat is in pain
- Limping is accompanied by other signs of illness
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Cat Acl Tears And Other Possible Causes Of Lameness
Just like ACL tears in dogs and people, cats can also experience ACL injuries. Cat ACL tears can result from jumping or falling from high perches and may be more common in overweight cats. The specialty vets at Veterinary Specialists of the Rockies can help to confirm if your cat needs surgery, if they would benefit from pain medication, or if other treatments, like veterinary acupuncture, could help.
NOTE: Do not give your pet human pain medication unless specifically prescribed by your veterinarian. Human medications may be toxic to pets, causing internal injury or worse.
How Can I Tell If My Cat Has Cut Her Paw
Try to look at the bottom of her paw. Be careful, as cats can be testy about letting people observe their wounds. If there are any foreign bodies stuck in the wound, you can pick them out. If its very deep, you may need a vets help.
A mild anti-bacterial soap or can disinfect the wound. If there is bleeding, control it with pressure with a clean towel for ten to fifteen minutes. If it hasnt stopped, take her to the vet.
You can bandage it by putting gauze on the wound and wrapping it. Dont do this too tightly. You should be able to get two fingers in. If she really hates the cone of shame, you can spray the bandage with something foul tasting to make her leave it alone.
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Fractured Or Broken Bones
Sometimes, cats playfulness knows no bound. Thats why its quite common to see a cat with a limping front leg.
For example, your cat decided to do a sudden stunt and jumped out in front of your moving vehicle, or leaped down from a high windowsill. His front legs made contact first with the hard surface after falling, and they were most at risk of getting sprained, fractured or worse – broken.
Usually, the symptoms for such cases would be a limping front leg together with swelling, disfigurement, and even bone protruding through the skin.
Pins and splints would be required to immobilize the damaged limb, as well as to support the bones and tendons inside, before applying any further treatments by the vets orders.
How To Prevent Limping In Cats
Since most cases of limping in cats are due to injuries and outdoor cats are more likely to be injured than indoor cats, keeping your cat in your home is a great way to prevent them from developing a limp. Giving your cat joint supplements such as glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and omega-3 fatty acids may help keep your cat’s joints healthy as it ages. Keeping their nails trimmed can prevent overgrown nails from contributing to a limp. Finally, keeping your cat at a healthy weight can help prevent putting unnecessary stress on its joints which may lead to joint disease.
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What Can I Do To Prevent Or Deter The Onset Of These Conditions
If possible, prevention is the best plan of action, but its not always possible. The trickiest parts of prevention are consistency and application. Since the animal doesnt have any symptoms yet, in cases of preventative care, its easy to let it go by the wayside.;
Persistent preventative measures can benefit your cat greatly, especially later in life when signs of degeneration start to show themselves.;
Aim to prioritize:
- Quality supplements like Integricares TRI-ACTA help keep healthy tissue and encourage reparation of damaged tissues.
- Purchasing healthy, quality pet foods and nutrition as recommended by your vet.
- Safe living areas with safeguards in place to discourage possible injuries.
- Omega 3s for lubrication health benefits.
- Weight management of your cat.
When The Vet Declares A Diagnosis Of Lameness
Your vet will perform a thorough examination;on;your cat and ask for a full history from you. The cat’s age may be one of the first questions you are asked. An older cat will often have different reasons for not bearing weight on a leg than a kitten. You will also be asked which leg your cat has been favoring, a back leg or a front leg.
The vet will figure out where your cat has the most pain and check for any irregularities of the bones or joints. Your vet may express a desire to perform a few tests, which may include x-rays or even some blood work.
Should the vet recommend an x-ray, the procedure will be performed under a general anesthetic. This will make it easier for the vet to adjust the limb to get a good look without causing further pain or discomfort.
The cat will typically stay with the vet for a few hours and be able to come home the same day. This of course depends on the diagnosis. Once your vet has looked at the x-rays it will then be decided what the next course of action will be.
Possibly, it will be necessary to refer your cat to a specialist vet, e.g. an orthopedic vet or a neurologist.
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