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June 28, 2022 |6 min read

Why is My Cat Limping?

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Your cat is a curious little creature whose explorations and adventures may sometimes get them hurt. Unless their name is Garfield and they enjoy large helpings of lasagna, they’re not really the kind of cat who can outwardly tell you when they get hurt and what exactly is bothering them. A cat owner has to be vigilant when it comes to caring for their favorite little fur ball. Signs of health-related issues can manifest in many different ways. Sometimes these signs are less noticeable than others, while other times, they can be pretty obvious. For example, an obvious sign that something is wrong with your cat is if they’ve begun limping around your home instead of strutting around proudly like they usually do. Oh no! What happened? Why is your cat limping?

There may be many reasons why your cat is limping around your home. Let's get familiar with a few common causes of your cat’s sudden limp.

Physical Injuries

Your cat is a wily adventurer and may attempt to climb things around your home, like a bookshelf or your kitchen cabinets. Yet sometimes, daring trips to new heights can take them to new lows, causing them to slip and fall. A fall like this can cause bodily harm and physical trauma to your cat’s legs and/or paws. A newly limping cat can be a wanderer who sustained an injury from a slip or fall. Signs of trauma-related injuries your cat may sustain from incidents like falls are broken bones, open wounds, strained muscles, cuts, bruises, and even torn ligaments. Your cat could also be experiencing a dislocated affected limb, overgrown nail, or broken bone.

If you suspect your cat slipped and fell from a high-up area like a tree or a fence, then it's very important for you to take them to their vet for an extensive evaluation and correct treatment. Sometimes, surgery may be needed.

Paw Problems

Cats spend so much time on their paws. They get the zoomies, run around, explore, climb, and wander on so many different types of terrain. One moment they could be dashing across your carpet, and in another, they could be outside scurrying across the grass. Their paws see a lot of action. So much action against their paws begets problems along the way like a cat paw pad infection.

Your cat’s limp may be related to paw-related injuries or irritations. Perhaps they ran over some mulch, and now there’s a splinter in their paw. Maybe the gravel they just had their zoomies on was a little too rough on their paws, and now they’re scraped and bruised. Even ingrown nails are also common problems that can make your cat walk around with a limp. Be sure to gently check the bottom of their paws to evaluate the kind of paw-related irritation or injury that they are experiencing. You may need to adjust how frequently you trim their nails or what kind of cleaning products to use on your tile floor (sometimes the residue chemicals and bleach on your tile floors can irritate your cat’s paws and cause serious reactions like limping and swelling).

Some signs of being on the lookout for if you believe there’s something irritating your cat’s paws and causing them limp are excessive licking, chewing, and biting at their paws. If they’re licking their paws a lot, it’s very likely they’re experiencing an allergic reaction to something they walked across and crossed paths with.

Some signs to be on the lookout for if you believe there’s something irritating your cat’s paws and causing them limp are excessive licking, chewing, and biting at their paws. If they’re licking their paws a lot, it’s very likely they’re experiencing an allergic reaction to something they walked across and crossed paths with. 

Aging Issues

As cats get older, they start running the risk of developing arthritis in their bones just like humans. Arthritis is a common health problem in older cats. The older they get, the more frequently the cartilage between their joints gets worn down. If you have an elderly cat who’s showing signs of limping then it's quite possible that they could be suffering from feline arthritis instead of trauma from a fall or an irritated paw.

How To Help

If we could, we would protect our cats from any and all things that could hurt them and possibly make them limp. We wouldn’t need to look up articles about things like cat eye infections, cat UTI's, or why our cats are limping because they’d never get hurt. But unfortunately, we can’t always be there to catch them from falling off that bookshelf or stop them from stepping on a thorn. What we can do though, is be there for them when we first notice something is off with their behavior.

Keeping a watchful eye and being on the lookout for sudden signs of potential irritations and injuries is very important in monitoring your cat’s health. Sudden limping should be taken seriously and consulting your cat’s veterinarian is essential in determining why they’re hurt and remedy their pain. And remember, Pretty Litter is here to help guide you along the way. 



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Christina Scamporrino is a lifelong animal lover and began working in the petcare space in 2019. Christina’s passion for the community of feline owners and enthusiasts have led her to designing premium packaging for PrettyLitter cat litter, PrettyPlease dry food, wet food, and treats, and a litter box designed to solve common litter box issues.

Outside of her professional work in the petcare space, Christina is a longtime kitten foster and has worked with several cat rescues throughout Southern California. When given the option, she favors orange cats, but loves all cats equally.


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