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Limping and Lameness in Cats

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A sprain is a joint injury caused by a sudden stretching or tearing of the ligaments. The signs are pain over the joint, swelling of the tissues, and temporary lameness. If the cat refuses to put weight on a leg, have him examined by a veterinarian to rule out a fracture or dislocation. The same is true for any injury that fails to improve in four days. X-rays should be taken.

Treatment: The primary treatment is to rest the injured body part. Ice packs help to reduce pain and swelling. Add crushed ice to a plastic bag. Place the bag over the injured joint and hold in place with an elastic bandage or your hand. New commercial cool packs work well, as do bags of frozen vegetables. Apply the cold pack for 15 minutes every hour for the first three hours. If it is left too long, it may cause tissue damage. 

Recommended Related to Cats

Cat FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis)

The following information isn’t intended to replace regular visits to your veterinarian. If you think your cat may have feline infectious peritonitis, please see your veterinarian immediately. And remember, please do not give any medication to your pet without talking to your veterinarian first.

Read the Cat FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis) article > >

Consult your veterinarian for safe pain and anti-inflammatory medications. Never give a cat acetaminophen (Tylenol) or any other over-the-counter pain medication.

Tendon Injuries

A tendon may be stretched, partly torn, or completely separated (ruptured). An irritated or inflamed tendon is tendonitis. Strained tendons follow sudden wrenching or twisting injuries. The tendons in the front and back paws are the ones most often strained. Signs of tendonitis include temporary lameness, pain on bending and straightening the joint, and tenderness and swelling over the length of the tendon.

Rupture of the Achilles tendon that attaches to the hock joint is caused by sudden and extreme flexion. This tendon is most often injured in auto accidents and cat fights.

Treatment: Stretched tendons are treated in the same way as sprains. A ruptured tendon is an emergency and requires immediate veterinary attention. Surgery will be performed and the cat may need a splint or cast, as well as pain medications and follow-up physical therapy.

A cat with a ruptured Achilles tendon walks on his heel instead of the toes.

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