A cat with trembling legs isn't a common sight, so when you witness limping, shaking, or other jerky movements in a normally healthy kitten, you might become alarmed. While these symptoms are indeed unusual, a cat's trembling legs may be due to a number of different conditions, including arthritis, poisoning, or even the common cold, and they often require a veterinarian's attention. If your cat is limping or his back legs are shaking, here's what may be behind it.
Arthritis or other joint pain
If you've got an elderly cat, chances are good he'll develop osteoarthritis. This condition, which occurs in more than 90 percent of cats 10 years and older, can cause your cat's rear legs to become tender and painful. If chronic arthritis is diagnosed, your vet can prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) to ease a cat's trembling legs, stiffness, or limb-favoring.
Infection or foreign body
A broken leg or obvious swelling is a clear reason for a cat's limping or back leg shaking, but a leg infection may be harder to spot and diagnosis. For example, your kitten's back legs may keep shaking due to an infection in the nail bed. Or the lameness or limping could be caused by a foreign object that's become lodged between the toes. Contact your pet's vet who may advise you to soak your cat's foot in warm water or apply a compress.
Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
Another reason for a cat's trembling legs may be a case of hypoglycemia, which means your cat has low glucose (blood sugar). Keep track of your kitty's kibble so you can determine whether he's eating enough, as skipping food for a longer-than-usual period of time can lead to this condition. And note that kittens are more prone to hypoglycemias as their small bodies are still getting used to processing glucose.
Sickness or body temperature change
An actual cat cold or a severe change in your pet's body temperature an also cause trembling or leg shaking. A too-high or very low body temperature can occur in a pet who's been outside in the extreme heat or during a severe cold snap. A good rule of thumb: be aware of your cat's comings and goings during inclement weather.
Exposure to toxins
There are a number of household and garden products that can be hazardous to the health of your cat, even potentially poisoning him, and exposure to these substances can lead to symptoms such as shaking legs, tremors, and seizures. The most common poisoning culprit for cats in this case is coming in contact with pyrethrin insecticides.
These chemicals are typically found in sprays or liquids used in the home or backyard, as well as in flea shampoos and topical flea and tick mediations. If your cat has had pyrethrin applied to his coat accidentally or he's been exposed to it by rubbing up against a dog who's taking this medication, make an immediate call to the veterinarian.
Fear or anxiety
Just as dogs (and people!) do, cats can feel great fear and experience moments of feline anxiety. Two common reasons these feelings develop and cause trembling legs are thunderstorms and fireworks. The loud booms and vibrations that accompany a bad rainstorm or a holiday light show are too much for some kittens to handle. Ask your vet about medication to alleviate your cat's fear and anxiety or try keeping your kitty in a quiet interior room with white noise playing in the background during these particular moments.
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- Acoma Animal Clinic - Tuscon Veterinary Hospital: Why Is My Cat Shaking?
- Hillcrest Animal Hostpital: Can Cats Catch Colds?
- VCA Hospitals: Pyrethrin/Pyrethroid Poisoning in Cats
- VCA Hospitals: How to Recognize Pain in Aging Cats
- ASPCA: Four Ways Fourth of July Fireworks Can Harm Our Pets