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Dr. Deb
Dr. Deb, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 9965
Experience:  I have been a practicing veterinarian for over 30 years.
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My cat has just come home limping. I have tried to have a

Customer Question

Hi my cat has just come home limping. I have tried to have a look at the leg she has stopped wanting to use and there is no obvious signs of injury.
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Peter replied 9 months ago.

Welcome! Thanks for asking your question. My name is***** am a licensed veterinarian and I will be assisting you today. First I need to ask you a few questions so that I can be well informed and give you the best advice.

1- Is the lameness in the front or back leg?

2- How long has this been going on?

3- Is she bearing weight on the limb?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Hi there, it's her back left leg and it's been like that for around 12 hours now. I haven't seen her bare any weight on it at all when she walks but she has sort of sat in the 'sitting' position with or tucked under her so I'm not sure if that counts as putting weight on it...?
Expert:  Dr. Peter replied 9 months ago.

Hello again, any improvement since you posted the question?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
No improvement so far.. I took this a few hours ago while she was eating as she was holding it up... I initially thought it might have been something to do with her hip however I've noticed that if she is standing in the one spot she will stretch it out behind her which obviously uses her hip joint quite a bit... I still haven't seen her put any weight on it though and she sort of just 'hops' along when she tries to move... It does seem like it's causing her a bit of pain and is keeping to herself a bit... Choosing to sleep over in a corner area of the room but on the other hand she was well enough to 'speed hop' over to her bowl when I was putting her dinner out which I thought must be a good sign
Expert:  Dr. Peter replied 9 months ago.

Friend, in any case of a non-weight bearing lameness of the back leg we need to rule out: A fracture, dislocated hip or a soft tissue (muscle, tendon or ligament) injury. Thank you for the picture, but, I can not see anything abnormal in that picture. Unfortunately we are very limited as to what you can do at home. In order to determine the exact underlying cause she will need to have an orthopedic examination by family veterinarian and xrays. Treatment will be based on exam and xray results. Do Not give over the counter pain meds, they are all toxic to cats. Your family vet will start her on prescription pain killing medication upon examination. In the meantime keep her confine, do not let her outside.

My goal is to provide you with excellent service - I hope I've provided the information you were seeking, if you feel you have received anything less, please reply back as I am happy to address follow-up questions. Kindly rate me when you are done.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Ok so I think I've ruled out a hip injury... What sorts of signs/symptoms would I be looking out for with a fracture and/or a soft tissue injury
Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 9 months ago.

Hello, I'm Dr. Deb. I see where the previous expert with whom you were discussing Boots' lameness issue has opted out of your question.

If you still need assistance, I'll be happy to try and help if I can.

If a cat has broken a bone, in most cases, the patient is going to be pretty painful/uncomfortable when you palpate the site of the fracture. This is generally true when the break is located below the hip. However, if there's a break at the top of the femur (which attaches at the pelvis), then it may be more difficult to identify that this is the problem without an x-ray. Boots should still react, though, if you press hard enough in this area.

Soft tissue injuries (pulled muscle or ligament, strain/sprain, etc.) are much more challenging to identify since it's often very difficult to localize an area of pain or discomfort. This is often a diagnosis by excluding every thing else which might cause a cat to become lame or not bear weight on a leg.

I've seen quite a number of cats with abscesses or bite wounds with lameness issues but usually you'll notice a swelling or scab or discomfort when the spot is touched or palpated. And, usually these cats are putting weight on their limb but are limping when they walk.

It's also possible that she's ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). This is a problem more commonly seen in dogs but it can occur in cats as well.

If she has a luxating patella (which means her kneecap moves in and out) and she experienced some sort of trauma (such as jumping and landing wrong), then she might also avoid putting pressure on her leg.

As you can see, there are quite a few possible explanations for her behavior with this leg which an x-ray might detect if a thorough physical exam doesn't pinpoint the problem.

I would dearly love to recommend an over the counter treatment option for her but as Dr. Peter mentioned, this wouldn't be wise since so many of these products can be harmful to cats.

I wouldn't consider this to be an ER type of situation..not yet anyway especially since she's eating....but if she continues to only walk on three legs, then a vet visit may be prudent.

I hope this helps. Deb

PS: I have to step away from my computer for a bit to help a neighbor with health issues but I'll log back on later if you have additional questions or concerns. My apologies for the inconvenience.