Cat Limping: Causes, Symptoms, and Care

icon May 17, 2023

Cats are known for their agility and graceful movements. However, if you notice your feline friend limping, whether they are limping on their front leg or their back leg, it can be a cause for concern.

Limping is not normal behavior in cats and may indicate an underlying health issue or injury. In this article, we will explore the various causes of cat limping, common symptoms to watch out for, and how to provide appropriate care for your furry companion.

Cat Sprained Leg Symptoms

  • Swelling- The affected leg may be swollen, and the surrounding tissue may feel warm or tender to the touch. You may also notice bruising or discoloration around the joint.
  • Pain- Cats with sprained legs may exhibit signs of discomfort or pain when you touch or apply pressure to the injured leg. They may vocalize, hiss, or withdraw when you attempt to handle the leg.
  • Limping- Limping or favoring one leg over the other is a common sign of a sprained leg. Your cat may put less weight on the affected leg or may hold it up completely.
  • Changes in behavior- Cats in pain may exhibit changes in behavior, such as irritability or aggression.
  • Licking or biting the affected limb excessively.
  • Reluctance to walk, run, or jump.
  • Stiffness- Your cat may have difficulty moving the affected leg or may seem stiff when they walk.

Why is my cat limping?

Cat Limping with a Back Leg Sprain

When a cat has a sprained back leg, it may exhibit specific symptoms that include:

Difficulty Jumping- Cats may struggle to jump onto furniture, countertops, or other elevated surfaces due to the pain and instability in the sprained back leg.
Stiffness- The affected leg may appear stiff, and your cat may experience difficulty stretching or bending it fully.
Hopping- Cats with a sprained back leg may hop or carry the injured leg off the ground while moving.

Cat Limping with a Front Paw Sprain

If your cat has a sprained front paw, it may show the following symptoms:

Lameness- Cats with a sprained front paw often experience lameness, displaying a visible limp or favoring the uninjured leg.
Forelimb Weakness- The sprained front paw can result in weakness or decreased mobility in the corresponding leg, causing your cat to rely more on their back legs.
Reluctance to Use the Paw- Your cat may avoid using the injured front paw to climb, scratch, or engage in activities that require gripping.

Why is My Cat Limping? 


Your cat might have experienced a fall, sprain, strain, or other physical trauma that resulted in a limp. Inspect your cat's leg carefully to see if you notice any swelling, wounds, or obvious signs of pain.

Foreign Object

Cats are curious creatures and may step on or get a foreign object stuck in their paw, such as a thorn or splinter. Check your cat's paw pads for any foreign bodies that might be causing discomfort.


Older cats can develop arthritis, which can cause pain and stiffness in the joints. If your cat is older and shows other signs of joint issues, such as difficulty jumping or decreased activity, arthritis could be a possibility.


An infection, such as an abscess or a bite wound, could lead to lameness. Inspect your cat's leg for any signs of swelling, redness, or discharge.

Muscle or Ligament Damage

Cats can experience muscle strains or ligament injuries, similar to humans. These injuries can occur during play, exercise, or accidents.

Bone Fracture

Although less common, fractures can occur if your cat has had a significant accident or fall. Fractures may cause severe pain and immobility.

Should I Try to Examine the Leg?

Yes, take a closer look at your cat's limp. Check for any visible signs of injury, swelling, or wounds on the affected leg or paw. See if your cat is experiencing any pain or discomfort. Make sure to approach your cat calmly and gently, as they may be in pain and react defensively.

In either case, never give your cat any type of pain medication unless your veterinarian tells you to do so. Many of the pain medications we commonly give or give to dogs are extremely toxic to cats.

If you see your cat limping, here are some appropriate home remedies:

Gently inspect your cat's toenails, paw pads, feet, and legs, and if you find anything like thorns or debris, use tweezers to gently pull them out and clean the area with soap and water. Be sure to pay attention to the area to ensure that it does not become infected while the puncture wound is healing.
If overgrown nails are a problem, simply trim your cat's nails as usual (or have your veterinarian trim them for you).

Help! Why is my cat limping?

Should I Take My Cat to The Vet For Limping?

Limping can be caused by various factors, including injuries, fractures, sprains, infections, or even underlying health conditions. If your cat is just starting to limp and can still put weight on the affected leg and is eating well and walking around a lot, this situation can be given a few more days to see what happens.

But here are a few signs that might indicate the need for a vet visit:

  • If your cat's limp persists for more than a day or two, or if it worsens over time, it's best to have it evaluated by a veterinarian.
  • If your cat seems to be in pain or shows signs of discomfort when walking or when you touch the affected limb, it's important to have them assessed by a professional.
  • If you notice any swelling, bruising, bleeding, or an open wound associated with the limping, it's crucial to have a veterinarian examine your cat to assess the extent of the injury and prevent potential complications.
  • If your cat's limping is accompanied by changes in behavior, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or withdrawal, it may indicate a more serious underlying issue that requires veterinary attention.

Treatment for Limping in Cats

If the limping is due to inflammation, pain, or arthritis, your veterinarian may prescribe medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and pain relievers. It's important to follow the prescribed dosage and duration and discuss any potential side effects with your vet.

  • Weight management

If your cat is overweight, your veterinarian may recommend a weight management plan to reduce the stress on their joints and improve overall mobility. This may involve a specific diet and exercise routine.

  • Surgery

In certain situations, such as fractures or ligament injuries, surgical intervention may be necessary. Your veterinarian will determine if surgery is required based on the specific condition.

  • Nutritional

Nutritional supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin sulfate.

Puainta™ Pure Encapsulations Fish Oil 9000mg for Cats and Dogs

  • Supports the health of the heart, joints, brain, skin, and eyes
  • Protects the liver and heart
  • OMEGA-6 to 9 can help to enhance immunity and strengthen bones
  • Distilled: Fish oil in its raw state may contain toxins like heavy metals. Distillation removes these harmful chemicals, as well as other impurities, so the final product is safe.
  • Sourced from Small Fish: Compared to the oil extracted from larger fish like salmon, oil extracted from smaller fish like sardines and anchovies is richer in DHA and EPA. 

Puainta® Chondroitin Joint Supplements

  • Protect joints and relieve pain
  • Supplement nutrition; promote collagen production; help joint recovery and delay degeneration
  • Improve bone density, help to grow cartilage, and repair cartilage

Puainta™ Chondroitin Joint Supplements

  • Physical therapy

In some cases, physical therapy or rehabilitation exercises may be beneficial to improve your cat's mobility and strength. Your veterinarian or a veterinary physiotherapist can guide you on appropriate exercises to perform at home.


Why is My Cat Limping and Sleeping a Lot?

If your cat is limping and sleeping a lot, it could be a sign of an underlying health issue. Limping can be caused by various reasons such as injury, arthritis, or an infection, while increased sleeping can be a symptom of pain or discomfort. It's essential to monitor your cat's behavior and consult with a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Can a Limping Cat Heal Itself?

If your cat is limping but still able to jump and run, it's possible that the limp is not severe or your cat may have sustained a minor injury, such as a sprain or strain, which is causing occasional limping.

However, note that cats are known for their agility, and they may attempt to hide signs of pain or discomfort. Some cats might still jump and run despite experiencing pain, as they may be trying to mask their symptoms.


Leave A Comment
All comments are moderated before being published.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Join The Puainta

Become one of pet parents and get professional tips, immediate product info, updated promotions and discounts, and more surprises from us!