Cat with a limp
May 12, 2010 11:32 AM   Subscribe

When to go to the vet?

My 12 year-old indoor & outdoor kitty started limping on her front leg a few days ago. She hasn't cried or acted like she's in pain. She still jumps up on the couch, jumps onto her kitty condo, and goes outside.

When should I take her to the vet?
posted by Pocahontas to Pets & Animals (10 answers total)
Sometimes our dog limps a bit but it usually goes away in a day or two. Our vet told us that occasionally they can pull a muscle when jumping or running.

I'd say keep an eye on your kitty and if she starts to act like it hurts or it doesn't go away in a few days, give your vet a call and see what they suggest.
posted by Fleebnork at 11:40 AM on May 12, 2010

Make sure she hasn't got an abscess - cats are notorious for them - and that she hasn't got anything stuck in her paw. I probably wouldn't let a cat of that age limp around for more than a couple of days without taking her to the vet, just in case.
posted by rtha at 11:46 AM on May 12, 2010

I probably wouldn't rush to the vet quite yet either, but another thing to keep in mind is that cats are notoriously good at masking pain. When they start complaining (for the most part), it's to the point where it ~really~ hurts. I second the advice to make sure there's nothing stuck in her paw. If it doesn't get better in a couple days (or gets worse at all), give the vet a call. They'll probably tell you to come in to be on the safe side (and to charge you $$), but you never know. IANAV obviously, just a cat person :)
posted by cgg at 11:56 AM on May 12, 2010

Has she had any ticks recently? Joint pain can be a sign of Lyme disease.
posted by fremen at 12:08 PM on May 12, 2010

As predators, cats have good instinctive reasons to maintain a stoic facade, which makes life difficult for their humans. My male cat managed to completely conceal an injured paw for about a week--he was running, jumping, the whole works--and probably could have kept going, had I not managed to get a close look. And my female cat did her best to pretend nothing was happening when, several years ago, she dislocated a toe and tore a ligament after she miscalculated a jump. Which is just to say that if your cat can't conceal its limp, you might want to have the vet take a look (at least in another day or so).
posted by thomas j wise at 12:40 PM on May 12, 2010

I personally use interest in food and water as a gauge, as well as obvious reaction to pain. (I.e. does she hiss at you when you poke the sore spot?) But yea, if limping occurred for more than a day or two I think I would take my kitty in.
posted by cabingirl at 12:58 PM on May 12, 2010

I would poke at her leg very carefully, and look for her wincing, thorns, and lumps and smell her leg too (there is a distinct nasty pet wound smell). Between the paw pads and at the joints are spots to check carefully. If you don't find anything and she is eating and drinking fine then I'd wait a week to see if it was just a slight sprain and she is over it.

If she doesn't stop limping in a week or two then a vet visit and paying for an x-ray is the next step.

She is fairly old so it could also be arthritis.
posted by meepmeow at 2:09 PM on May 12, 2010

I'd recommend going to the vet. Our cat concealed an abcess very well, until it burst (um, while we were out of town and a neighbor was cat-sitting...on Christmas Day). Vet emergency room was very expensive. We should have brought him in when we first noticed he was acting a little funny. If your instincts are telling you that something is off with your kitty, you are probably right.
posted by bigd at 6:16 PM on May 12, 2010

Sooner rather than later. Cats don't weigh much and don't impact the ground as hard in a fall-- and rarely do anyway since they usually do "land on their feet". Palpate the leg and see what hurts. If it's a break, it must have been a nasty spill indeed.

If it's the paw, it's likely a flesh injury. I had a cat that somehow manage to halfway tear off a claw, and the resulting infection nearly cost him the toe. We got away with having to soak his paw in a povidone solution several times a day for a week or so, as well as forcing antibiotics down his craw. Bear in mind that the longer the injury deteriorates, the more treatment the cat needs. Cats do not like treatment, and the more vigorous it is, the more of a fight she'll put up.

And you always, ALWAYS lose when fighting a cat.
posted by holterbarbour at 7:17 PM on May 12, 2010

As predators, cats have good instinctive reasons to maintain a stoic facade, which makes life difficult for their humans.
thomas j wise is right here. Cats are notorious for being injured, yet showing very little to no signs of pain. My sister's cat was actually hit by a car and had a broken hip, the only outward sign of injury was a limp. She waited two or three days to take him in to Vet. Needless to say, she felt terrible after finding out what had happened to her poor cat. Take her in.
posted by citizngkar at 8:44 AM on May 14, 2010

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