If your cat is limping, this is a sign that something is wrong. However, as a responsible cat owner, you may find yourself wondering what’s going on with your feline friend and what the underlying cause of the limping could be.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common causes of limping in cats. This information can help you determine when it’s time to take your cat to the veterinarian and whether or not the limping they are experiencing could be from a known condition. If you have any questions, call Blue Cross Pet Hospital in North Hollywood, CA at (818) 980-1313.

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Broken Bone

A broken bone is likely to be an obvious problem if it happens to your cat. You may see the bone visibly protruding, or your cat’s leg might be severely swollen. Very rarely, internal breaks may not show outward signs, but your cat will be noticeably in pain.

If your cat has a broken bone, take them to the vet right away. They will need to see an emergency vet if your regular vet is unavailable, and they will need to have the bone set properly.

Pulled Muscle

A pulled muscle may also lead to limping in cats, especially if the pulled muscle is very severe. Although cats are very skilled at climbing and jumping, they may sometimes suffer from accidents just like any other animal (or human). If this happens, your cat may risk pulling a muscle or tearing a ligament.

A pulled muscle will usually heal on its own. However, if your cat is suffering a lot from the pain, you may want to take them to the vet for pain medication and to make sure there is not anything more serious going on.

Nail Bed Injury or Infection

Cats may experience injuries in their nail beds, which include torn nails, ticks or other foreign bodies attached between the toes, and lacerations. These injuries quickly become infected because the cat walks in their litter box and on other dirty surfaces often. A cat with an infected nail bed will likely limp.

If your cat’s nail bed is infected, check for foreign bodies between the toes. If you see something there, remove it carefully and soak your cat’s foot in Epsom salt. If you cannot remove the problem or if you can’t see it, take them to the vet for assistance.

Paw Pad Injury

Paw pads are sensitive and may become injured easily. Cats may tear their paw pads or cut them if they walk on sharp surfaces, and some cats may end up with an injured paw pad after playing too roughly with another cat. In all of these instances, the paw pad may risk becoming infected and abscessed.

Clean the wound with soap and water, then soak the wound in Epsom salts. If the wound is very deep, your cat may need to go to the vet. Otherwise, however, try to encourage them to rest as much as possible for a few days and let it heal.

Bite or Sting

If your cat is bitten or stung by an insect or snake on the leg or foot, they may limp as a result of this injury. Bites and stings can be painful and may cause some swelling at the site of the injury.

Watch your cat closely for any signs that the bite or sting may be causing an allergic reaction or may be venomous. More than just a little swelling at the site, swelling in the face or neck, and fever are all signs that the bite or sting is serious and needs emergency vet care.


Finally, if your cat is older, they may be suffering from arthritis. Cats with arthritis may develop a limp because their joints are simply unable to move as smoothly as they once did. Your cat could also be in pain if they have arthritis, and the pain may keep them from wanting to walk much.

Although there is no cure for arthritis, your vet can help you figure out the right management options for your cat. These may include ice packs or warm compresses on the affected joints, pain medication, orthopedic cat bedding, or other potential methods.


As you can see, there are several potential causes of limping in cats. Most of the time, the best course of action is to take your cat to the vet—or sometimes the emergency vet—for assistance. However, if your cat’s limp is associated with a known condition, you may need to work on keeping them comfortable until it subsides instead.

A vet can provide you with more information about both acute and chronic problems that may cause your cat to limp. Limping is sometimes very serious, so it’s a good idea to go to the vet if you don’t know the root cause of this problem in your cat. Call us today at (818) 980-1313.