Fluid Retention in a Cat's Legs

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The legs of a healthy cat are lean and muscular.

Feline health problems can be strange and scary, especially when it involves fluid retention of the legs. Feline leg fluid retention is always the result of a serious problem and should be taken seriously from the start. This condition may be caused by a number of diseases, including kidney and heart disease.


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Fluid retention in the leg produces symptoms such as swelling of the leg and distortion of the leg's shape. Painfulness or tenderness of the leg is common. The leg may be sensitive to the touch. Cats may refuse or be unable to walk on the swollen legs and may cry out in pain, hiss or growl as a result of using their legs. Other symptoms that often accompany fluid retention in a cat's legs include weight loss, vomiting, increased drinking, lethargy, fever and diarrhea. Swelling/fluid retention of the face and abdomen are also common in the event of fluid retention in the legs.



Fluid retention in a cat's legs may be the result of numerous medical conditions. Feline chronic renal failure, or kidney failure, is one common condition associated with fluid retention of the legs and body. Feline infectious peritonitis, diabetes, feline heart disease, feline congestive heart failure, cancer and internal bleeding may also produce fluid retention in the leg or other parts of the body. A veterinarian can best diagnose the cause of your cat's fluid retention of the legs.



Diagnosing the condition requires a veterinarian's care. Diagnosis procedures vary depending on the cause of the fluid retention. After taking a medical history, the veterinarian performs a thorough examination of your cat, which may include additional blood or body fluid tests,biopsies, ultra sounds or x-rays. Your cat may need to be temporarily admitted to the veterinary hospital as the diagnostic tests are administered. The process may be stressful for both you and your cat, but remember, it is better to rule out other problems in order to find the true cause of your cat's fluid retention of the legs.



Treatment depends on the cause of the fluid retention. A veterinarian may provide medication or perform surgical procedures to treat the cause of fluid retention in your cat's legs. Aside from treating the disease causing fluid retention, your veterinarian may provide medication to reduce swelling and pain of your cat's legs. You may need to feed your cat a special diet and provide a quiet, comfortable place for your cat to rest while it recovers. Often, cats experiencing this medical condition must be kept calm and quiet until the condition improves.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.