There are many possible causes of lameness in cats, most of which are benign, but some can be serious. The shoulders, legs, or feet may be affected. Muscles, bones, tendons, joints, paw pads, and claws have the potential to cause lameness in cats .
Learn more about the causes of lameness in cats, the symptoms to look out for, and how to help your cat.
Causes of lameness in cats
Arthritis in the cat
Arthritis causes lameness and mobility problems in cats of all ages. Arthritis is difficult to recognize because it is subtle. Arthritis causes pain and makes it difficult for animals to carry out everyday tasks. In addition to limping, some arthritic cats reduce their physical activity.
Although not very common, hip dysplasia and patellar luxation can cause arthritis in cats.
Physical exercise can ease the symptoms of arthritis, but a cat suffering from it cannot be expected to chase mice or play games.
Your vet can establish a treatment plan that can help ease your cat’s pain and inflammation. Never give your cat any medication without first checking with the vet. Cat pain relievers should only be administered with veterinary supervision.
Feeding your cat a proper diet can help relieve chronic inflammation and pain. Supplementing the arthritic cat’s diet with omega-3 fatty acids can also help him feel better.
Ingrown toenails, cat fights and cactus
You may not be able to see it, but an ingrown toenail may be causing your cat to limp. If cats have arthritis in their toes, they can avoid scratching, which leads to ingrown toenails.
Your vet will remove the nail from your pet’s paw pad and wash the wound. He or she may also prescribe antibiotics and pain medication to help your cat heal and feel better.
limped cats that were injured in fights with other felines or injured by cactus plants and hot stoves. Treatment consists of removing hair around the wound, cleaning and rinsing the wound, and giving antibiotics. Cats generally recover from these types of injuries, she says.
Neurological diseases and cancers
Although not common, neurological diseases can affect the way a cat walks. For example, lumbosacral disease or degeneration causes severe pain toward the base of the animal’s tail, Lascelles says. Similar to a slipped disc, intervertebral disc disease can occur anywhere on the cat’s back or neck. “The two diseases can be similar,” he says. “You have back pain that makes cats move stiffly.”
Cats can encounter unusual hazards playing outside. When he was practicing veterinary medicine in Florida, Nelson treated cats with ridges of grass embedded in their paws.
Also known as foxtails, the grassy edges don’t seem particularly dangerous. An awn is a bristle- like appendage that grows from various types of herbs. The tips and sharp edges of the canopy can penetrate the skin and tissues of cats and dogs.
A limping cat is in pain. Since a kitten will never complain of pain or other symptoms, it’s up to you to pay attention to your pet and take her for professional treatment when necessary, Lascelles says. “Cat owners shouldn’t assume that the pain will go away on its own. The pain must be investigated. ”
Symptoms of lameness in cats
Cats are very stoic creatures and can be much more sore than they show. The limp can be sharp, it can come and go, or it can be very subtle.
Common symptoms of lameness can include:
- Not being able to walk or run normally.
- Difficulty going up or down stairs.
- Resignation or inability to jump on furniture.
- Pain and general signs of discomfort.
- Aggression when touched, especially in a normally calm cat.
- Loss of muscle mass around the affected leg.
- Walk at a slower pace.
- Pain when touched.
- You do not place the leg on the ground correctly.
- Swelling of the joints
- Decreased activity or intolerance to exercise.
Cancer (bone, joint, injection site)
Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cells and can develop anywhere in the body, including the bones and joints. The type of cancer is categorized by the cell line involved. It can be primary (originating in a particular location) or secondary, having spread from one part of the body to another.Osteosarcoma: Osteosarcoma ( osteogenic sarcoma ) is an aggressive and destructive type of primary cancer that develops in the bones. It is the most common type of bone cancer in cats and accounts for 70% of bone tumors. Osteosarcoma most often affects the long bones of the legs, especially the hindlimbs, or the skull, but it can also affect other bones in the body.
Sarcomas at the injection site – A rare but serious cancer caused by giving injections (most often vaccines, but other types of injection can also cause ISS). The incidence is 1 case per 1,000 to 10,000 vaccinated cats. Due to the highly malignant nature of this cancer, vaccines are given at three locations. Behind the shoulders, on the right and left hind leg. This means that if a VAS develops, the leg can be amputated.
Thumb syndrome: Although rare, cats with pulmonary neoplasia (lung cancer) can develop a condition known as lung-digit syndrome, in which the cancer spreads to the toes and causes bone lysis (destruction ). Cats present with a limp, swollen toes, and pain.
- Arthritis, ingrown claws or cancer are more common in older cats.
- Obesity can increase the incidence of arthritis and cruciate ligament tear.
- Bite abscess, broken bones, lacerations, and Lyme disease – These conditions are seen more often in outdoor cats, especially un-neutered males who are more likely to be involved in territorial fights.
- Trauma and Joint Injuries: Anything that causes your cat to fall ill can lead to trauma, dislocated joints, joint injuries. Joints can be dislocated if the claws get stuck and your cat tries to break free if your cat is mishandled or trampled on. In some cases, congenital conditions can cause joint dislocations.
- Hip dysplasia: It can be hereditary and environmental, large cat breeds such as Maine Coons and Persians have a higher incidence.
- Patella luxation: There appears to be a higher incidence in Abyssinians, Bengals, Devon, Rexes, British Shorthairs, Siamese, Maine Coon, and Persians.
- Hemophilia: A racial predisposition has been linked to Devon Rex, British Shorthair, Siamese and Maine Coon cats and has been observed in mixed breed cats. The incidence of hemophilia is much higher in male cats.
Diagnosis of feline lameness
If you notice that your cat is limping, it is always advisable to see a vet as soon as possible.
Your vet will perform a physical exam on your cat and get a medical history from you, including when the lameness started, was it sudden, or did it progress over a period of time? How old is your cat? Is the cat inside or outside, has it had recent accidents? Have you noticed other symptoms besides lameness?
- Check the muscles, tendons, joints, and bones for signs of heat, pain, swelling, or other irregularities.
- Carefully examine the affected limb for signs of cuts or abrasions.
- Check the foot pad and between the toes for damage, inflammation, infection, splinters, glass, thorns, etc. Look at the claws for signs of damage. The claws may be broken or in some cases have been completely ripped off, which is extremely painful.
- Feel the leg very gently from the toes to the belly for lumps and bumps. If so, is it hot? Is the fur missing? The inflammation can be caused by an abscess, joint problems, a broken bone, or cancer.
- Gently move the limb to determine if this is causing pain and your cat’s range of motion.
- Is one limb longer than the other, which could indicate a dislocation? Is there swelling in or around the joint?
If an obvious cause cannot be determined (abscess, foreign body, injury, oversized claw (s), etc.), you may want to perform the following tests.
- Baseline tests: Complete blood count, biochemical profile, and urinalysis to assess your cat’s general health and check for signs of infection.
- X-ray, MRI, or ultrasound:To evaluate the joints, look for signs of tumors, infection, arthritis, or
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