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He is limping. His left rear leg will not support him. I…

Customer Question
He is limping. His...

He is limping. His left rear leg will not support him. I have gently felt the leg from the toes to the spine. No indication of pain. What can I do or give him to ease the discomfort?

Veterinarian's Assistant: I'm sorry to hear that. Did the cat have a fall?

Not that I am aware of. But he is a jumper.

Veterinarian's Assistant: What is the cat's name and age?

Star 7-8 years

Veterinarian's Assistant: What is the cat's name?

Star

Veterinarian's Assistant: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Star?

He is a black cat, very curious, friendly with no documented history. Adopted with another all black cat from the Arizona Humane Society

Submitted: 8 months ago.Category: Cat Veterinary
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Answered in 4 minutes by:
11/13/2017
Cat Veterinarian: Dr. Kara, Veterinarian replied 8 months ago
Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 18,801
Experience: Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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Hello, I'm Dr. Kara. I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian and I'd like to help. Please give me a moment to review your concerns.

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Cat Veterinarian: Dr. Kara, Veterinarian replied 8 months ago
  1. Is he bearing any weight on the affected leg, toe touching, or carrying it?
  2. I understand that he doesn't seem painful with touching the leg but is there any pain with flexion or extension of any of the joints?
  3. Any swelling or changes in angulation of leg compared to the opposite side leg?
  4. Any obvious wounds or red areas?
  5. Is he indoors only or does he go outside?
  6. Does he play/rough-house with his housemate?
  7. Is he running a fever (rectal temperature greater than 103F?
  8. Is he eating and drinking normally?
  9. Is he trying to be active as usual or is he lethargic?
  10. How long has he been lame?
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Cat Veterinarian: Dr. Kara, Veterinarian replied 8 months ago

If Star is eating and drinking fine a fever seems pretty unlikely.

If he doesn't go outside and there are no obvious external wounds blunt trauma seems unlikely.

If he is bearing any weight on his leg and is indoors only a fracture is very unlikely.
Leg injuries can be secondary to trauma (being hit by a car, falling from a high place and landing poorly or even a bite wound). There aren't any effective, safe pain medications for cats available over the counter. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are toxic for cats and aspirin is poorly metabolized as well as not working very well at controlling pain. I don't recommend using any of them in cats.

The most common cause of limping in a cat that has a housemate or goes outside is a puncture bite or scratch wound from another animal. These can be very difficult to find as the initial wound(s) may be very tiny on the surface, the trauma to the tissue is primarily under the skin. Many of these puncture wounds, especially bite or scratch puncture wounds from other cats do become infected and abscesses do develop. There isn't much for you to do at home for him if that is the case as only systemic antibiotics will help an abscess.

While ideally he should be seen today because he is so uncomfortable this isn't an emergency today if he is bearing any weight on his leg and there aren't any obvious wounds. I would recommend that you keep him confined at least. The less he does on that leg the better, ideally no running, jumping or climbing (including no stairs). He should be confined to a small room with water, food and his litter box.

If he isn't much better in a day or two you may want to have a veterinarian examine him to look for the cause of him limping.

If he will let you examine him closely look closely for any signs of bite or puncture wounds on the affected leg and hip area. If you find them warm compress the area and clean the wound(s) well with a dilute solution of warm water and antibacterial hand soap. Then I recommend having him seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

If this was a sudden onset thing if the leg seems to have no ability to support him and he is carrying it a cruciate ligament injury is another possibility. The cruciate ligament crosses the knee it keeps that joint stable. If it stretches or tears there is little stability to the joint and the secondary inflammation is quite painful. it can happen suddenly with the smallest slip, especially one that causes a twisting motion to the knee. If his is a cruciate injury ideally surgery would be done to give his knee normal stability because without surgery secondary arthritis formation will occur sooner and to a more severe degree then with surgery. It is also more likely that he will rupture the cruciate ligament in his other knee because he will be putting more stress and strain on the other leg. But I understand that that several thousand dollars isn't always financially feasible for everyone.
With very strict rest the knee will form scar tissue and gain some stability with time but it won't ever be normal and it will be arthritic. When I say strict rest I mean rest, no running, jumping, climbing stairs or encouraging playing for at least 6 to 8 weeks.

Of course arthritis is possible, but a sudden onset of lameness is less likely, we tend to see more gradual changes.

If this is related to arthritis I recommend keeping him on the thin side, or weight loss if he is overweight to decrease stress on her joints.
Long term for joint pain and arthritis I do recommend using a combination of a glucosamine/chondroitin product (examples are Dasuquin or Cosequin) and an omega 3 fatty acid (like 3V Caps or Derm Caps). These work synergistically and improve cartilage health and joint fluid quality and quantity as well as reducing inflammation. They can take several weeks to see full improvement but some kitties do very well with them alone to control pain and inflammation. They are available over the counter.
Another option is a product called Duralactin. This is an anti-inflammatory product derived from milk proteins and it also has omega 3 fatty acids incorporated into it which can be very helpful. See this link for further information: http://www.duralactin.com/products_feline.htm
If that's not enough his veterinarian can prescribe drugs that are more potent for longer use. Veterinary drugs we can add include a nonsteroidal like Metacam, or Robaxin. If those aren't enough we can add another drug in the opiod family called buprenex and/or another drug called Gabapentin.

Finally we do need to consider a tumor, although I would expect a more gradual onset of symptoms, and that he would be more painful.

At home now you can try resting him, and alternating warm and cold packs on any painful area for 10 minutes at a time several times a day. Cold reduces painful inflammation and hot/warm packs improve joint mobility and reduces muscle spasms.

Best of luck with your fellow, please let me know if you have any further questions.

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Cat Veterinarian: Dr. Kara, Veterinarian replied 7 months ago

Hello, I wanted to make sure that you didn't have any further questions for me, and I'd like to know how things turned out for your pup. If you could give me an update that would be great, thank you, ***** *****

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