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Sore leg in a cat.

Species: Cat
Breed: black/white tailless
Age: 8-11 years
I recently moved from a ranch house to townhouse(steps) in another city. Winston is one of 3 cats. She is 20 pounds and not a good jumper b/c of no tail. About 4 days ago I notice her favoring her left leg/paw. It is not swollen, she lets me touch it and nothing in the pad of the foot. She cannot bring the leg up to clean her face. She is eating well. I started taking the food up to her so she could avoid the steps. I also made a series of benches so she could get on the bed. I wonder if she just sprained-maybe jumping off the new higher bed and using all the steps. It does seem a bit better today but she still doesn't want to put weight on it. I do not have a vet yet in Pittsburgh. The thought of putting her in a carrier after the trauma they went thru moving and also perhaps injuring the leg more trying to get her in the carrier. the last few days she has been sleeping on the bed and not moving around much. She is 10 years old and not as active as she was in previous years. Hope you can help. Thanks Kay


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hi Kay and thanks for your question!

This is a tough one to answer over the internet! However, I'll give you some of my thoughts.

The most common reason to have a sudden lameness in a cat is some type of infection in the muscle. Often the infection can't be seen because it is under the skin. They can get these by being bitten by another cat. If it is an infection you will start to notice eventually that her appetite is decreasing. If this is the case then she will need to see the vet for antibiotics.

Another possibility is that she has injured her cruciate ligament (ACL). The only way to diagnose this is to have your vet examine her. Most cats with ACL tears will heal on their own although some need surgery. If she is going to heal on her own it will take several weeks. Your vet may prescribe some medication for pain for the next few weeks.

It is also possible that she has injured either her hip or her back. If this is a soft tissue injury such as a sprain or strain it really should be improving after 3 days. If she has been lame for more than 3 days then she will unfortunately need to see the vet.

Your vet will do a good thorough exam and decide whether or not she needs xrays.

Unfortunately there is no over the counter medicine that is safe to give her for pain.

I hope she does ok!

Dr. Marie.


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I just re-read your question and I just wanted to be sure that it is the left HIND leg we are dealing with...if it is a front leg then an ACL tear would not be an issue.

Dr. Marie.



Customer reply:

It is the left front leg. They are indoor cats so no bites. She seems a little better this morning. Would it hurt to wait thru the weekend. I just brushed her and it didn't seem to bother her. I did nick and pull some skin when I was cutting out a hair ball but that was last nite so that wouldn't be an infection. Thanks for your help


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

You're very welcome! As long as she is eating and we are seeing some improvement then it is probably ok to watch her over the weekend. If she has not improved significantly by Monday then definitely she will need to be seen.

Also, if her appetite starts to decrease then this can be a sign of either significant pain or other disease present. If her appetite is decreasing then I would take her in sooner.

Hope she feels better soon!

Dr. Marie.



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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.