Symptoms of a Cat With a Sprained Leg

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Keep a cat with a sprained leg indoors and discourage play for quick healing.
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Feline acrobatics of jumping, running quickly around corners and flying through the air to pounce on items can cause a sprained leg. Sprains are warm, swollen and painful to cats, but they usually heal themselves within a few days with rest and home treatment.

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Feline Limping Causes

Your furry feline may be limping for a number of reasons. A limp is an abnormal gait because of minor to major injuries from arthritis, joint dysfunction, pain and most often from a sprain.

A sprain occurs when a joint is suddenly stretched, or ligaments are torn in the joint. The joint becomes tender and a cat will not bear all of his weight on the affected limb, resulting in a limp.


Sprained Leg Symptoms

Sprains occur commonly on a cat's rear legs and can be caused by his leaping onto an object, misjudging the height and then falling down, or scrambling with the hind legs to reach the top of the object.

A sprained leg is usually swollen and warm to the touch over the affected joint. Some cats may refuse to bear any weight on the affected limb.

Ice or Cool Packs

Ice packs on the joint help to reduce swelling and pain associated with a sprain. You can put ice cubes in a bag, use frozen vegetables, such as peas or a commercial cool pack. Place the ice or cool pack on the sprained leg while your cat is resting. Leave it on for about 15 minutes every hour for about three hours.


If the sprain seems severe, contact your veterinarian, who may prescribe pain and anti-inflammatory medication.

Veterinary Intervention

If your cat's condition doesn't improve greatly in about four days, it's time to see the vet. There could be a more drastic underlying cause making your cat limp. He could have a torn tendon, a ruptured knee ligament or a torn muscle that needs additional treatment after diagnosis with veterinary X-rays and tests.

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.