Why Your Cat Might Be Limping On It’s Front Or Back Leg And What To Do To Help

Contrary to the popular saying, cats don’t have nine lives. And they don’t always land on their feet. In fact, they are far more vulnerable than you might think.

What’s more, they can suffer from a variety of health problems similar to the ones affecting human beings. One such problem is limping.

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As kitties get older their bodies grow weaker and their overall health worsens. Apart from the obvious condition of the cat’s skin and fur coat, one of the most common signs of old age in feline furballs is limping.

Limping, however, can occur in all life stages, regardless of the cat’s breed, and it’s usually due to injury or discomfort.

There are a great number of reasons that could be causing it. Some of them are quite harmless and don’t require emergency vet care. Others, however, can be life-threatening.

It’s absolutely possible for young and seemingly healthy cats to start limping on either a front or back leg out of the blue. The symptoms can be persistent, chronic, or occurring only once in a while.

The most common causes are physical injuries, infections and underlying health problems like arthritis or joint dislocation. Your cat’s limping could also be accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • Unwillingness to sit, jump, walk or use the affected limb in any way
  • Shifting the body weight back and forth between the legs
  • Lumps with swollen or wounded spots
  • Aggressive behavior when touched or approached
  • Fever and disorientation

Whether your pet is a kitten, an adult or a senior, it’s crucial to not neglect the problem and to not wait for the cat to get better on its own.

Reasons For Why Your Cat Might Be Limping


A variety of infections, both internal and external, can make your cat limp. Abscess, calicivirus, lyme disease, bacterial infections from wounds and other similar conditions can easily cause limping.

If there’s a wound on your pet’s paws, legs or hips, chances are the pain is the origin of the problem. On the other hand, in some rare cases disorders like calicivirus, which cause infections and inflammation, can also lead to limping in the cat’s front or hind legs.


There’s a plethora of injuries resulting in a limp – not just a sprain from a bad landing. Spinal cord injuries, bone fractures, torn cartilages or muscles, torn claws, ingrown claws, nerve injuries in the legs, cuts, burns, insect bites, ligament ruptures… the list with possible culprits goes on and on.

Due to the fact that cats use meows, yowls, chirps and other inhuman-like sounds, your pet won’t be able to tell you if it injured itself while you weren’t looking at it. As such, unless the injury has left a visible mark, the limping itself will be the only telltale sign that there’s something wrong with your fluffy friend.

Sometimes something as simple as lack of proper grooming and overgrown claws could be the reason behind your cat’s inability to walk properly. However, there’s also the chance of an undiagnosed health issue.

If you’d like to get IMMEDIATE answers from a cat veterinarian, you can talk to one online below. Please note that there is a fee for this service.

Health Disorders

The most common physical health-based disorders causing limping in cats are arthritis, hip and joint dysplasia, hemophilia, cancers, patellar luxation and plasma cell pododermatitis. Regardless of your cat’s age, it’s possible for your pet to have an underlying undiagnosed health problem.

Treatment And Cures: What To Do When Your Cat Is Limping?

As mentioned above, there are some causes of limping, which don’t require emergency or expensive medical care. Sprains, mild insect bites or overgrown claws can be dealt with easily.

A huge mistake many pet parents make is waiting to see if the cat gets better on its own.

Giving your pet a day or two to check if the limping will disappear is alright, but waiting any longer can actually worsen any undiagnosed conditions, inflammations and injuries. If you can’t see any visible wounds and you don’t know why your cat is limping, call your vet.

Heading over to the vet’s office for an emergency check-up is the best way to locate the problem. If you’re trying to save money from vet trips, neglecting a limp isn’t your best option. Worst case scenario – your pet has an underlying health disorder and the longer you wait, the pricier its treatment will become.

The vet will carry out physical exams, including an X-ray, to check for fractures, and may even opt for blood and stool tests to check for internal infections.

There is no ultimate treatment and no home-made remedies as the causes of limping vary. You can opt for mild cat-safe pain reliefs before going to the vet. Another thing you can do is provide rest and comfort in a stress-free environment for your pet. However, the real treatment plan will depend on the vet’s diagnosis.

In some cases it’s possible for your pet to get hospitalized or to require cage rest. Either way, you must follow the doctor’s instructions thoroughly in order to help with the recovery process.

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Emily Parker

Emily Parker is the Content Manager at Catological. She's passionate about helping cat parents love their cats better by providing the best information and recommendations about everything you'll need to know about your cat, from kitten to senior years. She believes natural, biologically-appropriate products are best...why wouldn't you provide the best for a member of your family?!

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 8 comments
Elnara - October 17, 2018

My cat is injured at her front right leg, which is bleeding, and she is limping but she won’t let me look at it. What do I do? What is wrong with her?

    Curt Storring - October 26, 2018

    Hi Elnara –

    If she’s limping and bleeding, I highly recommend taking her to the vet ASAP.

Ifrah - November 1, 2018

my 2 month old kitten jumped from table and start limping what do i do?

    Miguel - June 17, 2019

    I had the same problem.I had to take my love one to the vet.s .X ray and medications and relaxations did help.Try anything to stop your love one from jumping from your bed .Make a stepping place with boxes .Your love one will get well within two (2) weeks .Follow the instruction of the medication as prescribed.

Angela - November 1, 2018

My cat Leo started limping! I tried to grab him by the scruff to check him out, but no matter how much I try to find the scruff, he won’t stiffen. Leo does walk, but when he has a chance to set his front left paw (from my side) he puts it up for less pain. That day he jumped from the gates, but that was when he was already limping.

mimi - December 11, 2018

My cat is limping on his front right leg. Its about a week now. On the back side of that leg today I touched a small oval shaped soft lump. He is still eating, playing, grooming etc. He does seem his normal happy self. I worry, but i can take him to the vet in January. Is it too long time to wait?

Lisa - March 18, 2020

I came home from work and my cat is limping and is very scared she is hiding under the bed now and won’t come out what should I do

    Emily Parker - March 19, 2020


    I am so sorry to hear that. If you haven’t already, and she is still hiding/limping, please call your vet and let them guide you.



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