Cat Leg Injury Guide: Definition, Prevention, and Treatments

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A cat leg injury interrupting your furry buddy’s typical zoomies isn’t fun for anyone.

When your furry friend is limping or otherwise showing signs of pain in their legs, it can be a difficult situation to deal with.

Your first instinct is likely to do whatever you can to make your furball as comfortable as possible, while at the same time trying to identify the cause of their cat leg injury, how you can help make it better, and what the next steps should be in terms of getting your cat care.

While it can be tough to see your kitty in pain, it helps to gather as much information as possible so you can make an informed decision on potential treatment options.

Let’s explore the basics surrounding cat leg injury, including how to identify if your kitty is suffering from a cat leg injury, what symptoms might look like, potential causes, and more.

Intro to Cat Leg Injury

Cats always land on their feet — but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt!

via GIPHY

While cat leg injuries are actually quite common, likely due to a typical cat’s constant need to launch themselves off of surfaces, the underlying causes and symptoms of a cat leg injury can be difficult to identify at times.

From overly ambitious jumps to awkward landings, there are a ton of reasons why your furry friend could experience a cat leg injury.

While you can do everything in your power to prevent cat leg injuries from happening, like integrating a quality joint supplement like TRI-ACTA for Pets into your cat’s diet, accidents, ageing, and other factors like genetics can still result in a cat leg injury.

Common causes of cat leg injuries are often muscle strain, something stuck in a paw pad, or the result of trauma, like a fall. But that’s not even close to being an exhaustive list of cat leg injury reasons.

When cats are in pain, they might show obvious signs like vocalization or, in the case of a cat leg injury, limping, but other times signs and symptoms that your kitty is suffering might not be so obvious.

The signs and symptoms of a cat front leg injury, for instance, might also differ from cat back leg injury.

Let’s start by taking a look at how you can narrow down where your cat’s leg injury is coming from, starting with her front legs.

Signs of Cat Front Leg Injury

signs of cat front leg injury

If your kitty is limping, not wanting to put weight on their front leg, or otherwise not being themselves, they could be suffering from a cat front leg injury.

Cats have a normal instinct to mask or hide the amount of pain they are experiencing, leaving many owners asking themselves “Is my cat in pain?” and having difficulty identifying the signs.

Signs of a cat front leg injury are objective indications that anyone can notice as evidence that your cat isn’t doing well, while symptoms are subjective. On the other hand, you might be the only one that can notice cat leg injury symptoms in your cat, since you know your cat better than anyone else. We’ll start with signs, and get into symptoms later.

You can start identifying signs of a potential cat front leg injury by watching for physical and mental changes in your cat, including:

  • Redness, swelling, and bleeding
  • Limping
  • Unusual lumps or bumps on the skin
  • A foreign object in the paw pad
  • Visible stiffness in front limbs
  • Refusal to bear weight on the affected leg
  • Lack of appetite
  • Over-grooming

These signs are a clear indication that there’s something going on with your cat, whether it be a sprained leg or otherwise. While some of these signs may not seem like they are directly linked to a cat front leg injury, they are all typical of a cat that is experiencing some level of pain and likely needs veterinary care.

Brachial Plexus Avulsion in Cats

Often resulting from serious trauma like a car accident, brachial plexus avulsion in cats is a result of injury to the brachial plexus group of nerves, which are located in the armpit area (where your cat’s shoulder blade joins her chest) of your cat’s front legs.

When the brachial plexus nerves are torn, avulsion has taken place. Depending on which nerves in the brachial plexus have been damaged, the signs of injury that your cat will show will differ.

General signs of brachial plexus cat front leg injury include:

  • Your cat is not able to move their shoulder or bend their elbow. Your cat might be able to walk a bit by straightening its elbow and bearing weight on the affected front leg.
  • If nerves in a different portion of the brachial plexus are damaged, then your cat might not be able to bear weight on the affected leg at all. This cat’s front leg injury often causes walking with the paw turned so the cat is walking on their knuckles instead of their paw pads, with the inability to bend the shoulder or elbow.

Another condition called Horner’s Syndrome can also occur as a result of brachial plexus avulsion. This condition affects the eye on the same side where the avulsion occurred, causing aesthetic differences to the eye including a droopy upper eyelid, a raised third eyelid, and a sunken appearance.

Horner’s Syndrome

A cat showing symptoms of Horner’s Syndrome.

Source 

Cats suffering from Horner’s syndrome thankfully don’t often have their eyesight affected, which is a silver lining in an otherwise traumatic kitty ailment.

Cat Leg Injury Symptoms

If you’ve noticed signs that your cat might be suffering from a cat leg injury and are planning on taking them to the vet, it’s a very good idea to make note of any unusual symptoms your cat may be experiencing.

Because you are with your cat on a daily basis and understand their behaviour, you should be able to identify what is regular behaviour for your cat and what could be an indicator that something is wrong.

Common cat leg injury symptoms include:

  • Growling, hissing, or showing uncharacteristic aggression
  • Running away or hiding when you get close
  • Unusual lethargic behaviour
  • Reluctance to move
  • Refusing to be picked up or held

Cat leg injury symptoms, in general, might be more behavioural in nature, so knowing when something is amiss with your cat’s behaviour can help your veterinarian with a correct diagnosis.

Different Causes of a Cat Leg Injury

causes of cat leg injury

While the cause of your cat’s leg injury might be obvious, like if they fall out of a tree during a particularly ambitious stunt, there can also be underlying reasons for your cat getting a leg injury that is not so obvious.

Here are just some reasons why your cat suffered a leg injury, and what each of them means for the health of your cat.

Cat Leg Injury Cause  Description
Trauma This could be from a fall, vehicle-related accident, fight with another cat or animal, and more.
Arthritis This condition can cause a variety of issues in cats, including cat leg injury. Preventions for arthritis in dogs and cats include weight management, joint supplements, and exercise.
High Rise Syndrome Cats are known for falling from high places, which can cause cat leg injuries as well as injuries to the cat’s internal organs.
Hip Dysplasia Genetics and hereditary reasons are often the culprits for feline hip dysplasia, which is when the hip joint develops abnormally, resulting in pain or proneness to injury.
Cat soft tissue injury Bruising, muscle strain, or pulled muscles can be the culprit behind a cat leg injury.
Paw and paw pad issues Foreign objects getting stuck in paw pads, as well as paw pad injuries like being stepped on, caught in something, or otherwise can be an underlying cause for cat leg injuries.
Feline Plasma Cell Pododermatitis (Pillow Foot) This condition typically affects the metacarpal or metatarsal foot pads, causing swelling and a characteristic spongy, dough-like texture.
Insect bites or stings Some insects like spiders or hornets can bite or sting your cat’s leg causing painful lesions or bumps.
Overgrown nails Cat claws grow constantly, so without regular nail clippings, your cat’s claws might grow right into their paw pads, causing pain and bleeding.
Cat spinal cord injury It’s common for spinal cord injuries to affect the legs, causing full or partial paralysis or various neurological and bone issues which affect your cat’s ability to walk, run, and jump.

As you can see, there are a variety of reasons why your cat may experience leg injuries. It’s natural to never want anything of the sort to happen to your feline friend, so let’s take a look at some measures that you can take to help prevent cat leg injuries.

4 Cat Leg Injury Prevention Tips

Only you can prevent forest fires… or a cat leg injury.

via GIPHY

Prevention is key to protecting your kitty from getting unnecessary injuries to their leg. Although not every single cat leg injury is preventable, doing what you can to keep your cat safe is always worth the extra effort.

We’ll get into all the details next, but common cat leg injury preventions include:

  1. Adding a cat joint supplement to their diet
  2. Clip their nails on a regular basis
  3. Ensure they are safe from hazards
  4. Keeping them indoors

1. Using Cat Joint Supplements

One way to keep your cat healthy and avoid a cat leg injury is to add a joint supplement to their diet. A supplement can help improve the health of their bones, soft tissues, and joints. And when your cat’s systems are working in tip-top shape, it’s less likely that a leg injury will set them back.

Supplements like Integricare’s TRI-ACTA for pets offer high-quality, third-party lab-tested ingredients that are designed to:

  • Repair cartilage
  • Increase mobility
  • Reduce inflammation in the joints
  • Improve the health of connective tissues

TRI-ACTA for pets can help the youngest of kittens grow strong and healthy, while senior cats can reap the mobility and inflammation benefits.

2. Regular Nail Clipping

regular nail clipping

Clipping your cat’s nails can feel like you’ve decided to get into battle rather than participate in a regular grooming routine.

via GIPHY

As hard as it can be to get our kitties wrangled and their nails clipped, it’s important to do it for the better of their health, and to protect them from a cat leg injury.

When nails get long, they can catch or break on almost anything, causing your cat pain in the nail itself, or worse, a cat leg injury.

Here are some tips for ensuring your cat’s nails get clipped regularly to avoid a cat leg injury:

  • Start your clipping ritual when they are kittens, if pawsible. They get used to the routine and won’t be as resistant.
  • Avoid taking too much off by only clipping the white tip off. You can always clip more, but taking too much will cause injury.
  • Give your cat a treat every time you touch their paws to get them used to it and to build an association with treats and paw maintenance.
  • Take breaks if needed, and give your kitty some love and treats if they (or you!) are getting too stressed out.

3. Securing Your Raised Balconies

As we said, cats don’t always land on their feet.

There’s even a condition called “Feline High Rise Syndrome,” which cats who don’t land on their feet experience.

If you leave windows open during a warm summer day or allow your cat to perch on the balcony or windowsill, you need to ensure your cat is secure and can’t go through the screen, over the edge of a sill, or through the slats in a railing. This helps you avoid a cat fall injury that can be serious and life-threatening.

4. Keeping Your Cat Inside

keep your cat inside

Remember when we said cats love to be daring and adventurous? Exploring the outdoors to hunt is in your cat’s DNA, so it’s no surprise domestic kitties will take any chance to get in touch with their wild side and adventure out into the wild (even if the wild is your backyard).

As we mentioned earlier, falling from a height is not good for your cats. That’s why you need to watch out for cat leg injury risks in the outdoors like:

  • Moving traffic and vehicles
  • Other animals (bites, lacerations)
  • Debris or obstacles
  • Other humans and strangers

So while you may think being outdoors is a fun playtime activity for your kitty, it can end up being more dangerous than you’d think. Avoid outdoor play unless your cat is harness trained and can be walked or monitored safely.

How to Treat Cat Leg Injury

No one wants their kitty to hurt. Especially from a cat leg injury.

Watching closely for cat leg injury symptoms can help avoid painful injuries worsening and prevent more serious problems from taking hold.

If you notice your cat is experiencing out-of-the-ordinary behaviours for more than a day or two, you need to call your vet. From there, they will decide which treatment will work best for your cat, if any, but we’re going to cover the most common solutions here, so you know what to expect when you pick up the phone.

Surgery

If your kitty has a cat leg injury that’s resulted in a broken bone, then surgery might be the best option to help them feel their best again.

When cats break a bone in their legs, they may need pins, screws, plates, or wires to repair the break surgically. These supports hold the two broken bones together in place while the bone heals, fusing back together and allowing your cat to be mobile again.

Post-operative care is crucial to the success of a surgery like this. You’ll want to make sure you confine your kitty for their safety, and you administer pain medication as directed by the veterinarian. Things like bandage changes and suture care instructions will also be something your vet will share with you to help your kitty on the road to recovery.

Medication

If your kitty has suffered a laceration or internal injury, your vet may prescribe medication to solve the problem.

There are plenty of medications you could be prescribed, but when it comes to cat leg injuries, two kinds are most commonly prescribed — pain medications and antibiotics.

Pain medications, specifically NSAIDs, for cat leg injuries are limited, and cats should never be given any human NSAIDs, like ibuprofen, as their bodies can’t break it down.

The only NSAIDs acceptable for cats are:

  1. Robenacoxib
  2. Meloxicam

Another common medication prescribed to kitties with a leg injury is antibiotics. If your cat has an injury that resulted in infection or is an open wound, your cat may be given antibiotics like Amoxicillin. It can be highly effective, and the course of medications will likely be short-lived.

Joint Supplements

cat joint supplements

Humans turn to supplements to heal faster and to support their recovery from an injury, and we can do the same for our pets.

And feeding a daily cat supplement can help your cat start feline better soon, too.

Supplements focusing on their joint health can help bring down inflammation inside their leg, and help improve mobility.

The thing is, not all supplements are created equal. You need to find a cat joint supplement that offers you therapeutic value in a format that makes sense for your cat and your wallet.

The best joint supplements for cats include the ingredients listed in the table below, but you should learn how to read a supplement label before you buy so you know exactly what would work best for your cat.

Active Ingredient Benefit for Cat Leg Injuries
Glucosamine Assists in cartilage repair
Chondroitin Prevent cartilage from breaking down further
MSM Reduces pain and inflammation

Integricare’s TRI-ACTA for pets include all of the joint health superstars listed above. If you’re looking for extra support, particularly for senior kitties or those recovering from surgery, TRI-ACTA H.A. for pets offers the bonus of containing hyaluronic acid, which lubricates joints and improves synovial fluid viscosity.

Physical Therapy

Feline physical therapy may sound strange, but it’s purr-fectly normal treatment for a cat leg injury.

Offering your kitty everything from exercises to hydrotherapy for cats is something that is often helpful to those kitties recovering from injury and even surgery.

Cat injuries treatable with physical therapy include:

  • Traumatic stifle luxation
  • Fracture surgery recovery
  • Femoral fractures
  • Cat spinal cord injury
  • Articular fractures
  • Cruciate ligament injury

Your vet can help you to work out a plan that best fits your kitty’s needs, and even recommend you to the right practitioners that can help provide services such as massage and therapeutic ultrasound. A cat leg injury healing time can be greatly reduced with the help of the right physical therapy tools.

Other Types of Cat Injuries

If you suspect your cat leg injury isn’t the only thing bothering your feline companion, or they suffered serious trauma like a fall from a height, they may have another type of cat injury on your hands.

Cats are complex little creatures, and paying close attention to their health is our responsibility as their caregivers.

We’ve gathered up some of the most common cat injuries to watch out for in the table below.

Type of Cat Injury Description Treatment
Cat Spinal Cord Injury
  • Cat injury occurring due to a spinal fracture or dislocation in the spine
  • Commonly caused by car accidents and bite wounds
  • Can cause paralysis
  • Medicines available to treat the condition if administered within a few hours of injury
  • Surgery is commonly needed to correct severe damage
  • A joint supplement like TRI-ACTA H.A offers the benefit of Hyaluronic Acid which can improve the supply and viscosity of the synovial fluid in the spine, as well as to help improve recovery time post-operatively.
Cat Hip Injury
  • Hip dysplasia is a common cat hip injury
  • Hip fractures and dislocations are also common and can occur from blunt force trauma.
  • Weight management and muscle conditioning are helpful options for the prevention of hip dysplasia
  • Surgery may be recommended to repair a cat hip injury or to correct hip dysplasia
  • Joint supplements such as TRI-ACTA H.A.
Cat Back Injury
  • Caused when cats fall from a height onto their backs or other trauma
  • Another kind of cat back injury is arthritis, developing slowly, particularly in the lower back
  • For traumatic injuries, close monitoring of your cat is required
  • Back injuries are serious. Immobilize your cat and call the vet immediately
  • Arthritis can be managed in the long term through physical therapy,  joint supplements such as TRI-ACTA and TRI-ACTA H.A., and weight management.
Cat Elbow Injury
  • Common injuries include:
    • Elbow Luxation (joint dislocation)
    • Medial humeral epicondylitis (MHE)
    • Elbow degenerative joint disease (DJD),
  • Most cat elbow injury treatments are non-surgical and can be managed at home with help from your vet, particularly DJD.
  • Some instances, particularly with MHE, require non-surgical treatments such as the use of braces or other supports alongside a joint supplement and modalities like physical therapy.
Cat Soft Tissue Injury
  • Soft tissue injuries include:
  • The first sign of a cat soft tissue injury is usually a limp
  • Inspect the suspected area. If it is hot to the touch and swollen, that can be a sign of injury. Call the vet immediately.
  • Cats with a soft tissue injury recover non-surgically most of the time, with the help of rest, pain medication, and joint supplements

Conclusion

cat leg injury conclusion

Our kitties love to be active and adventurous. They love to make daring leaps and show us their wild side every now and then.

But when your feline pal’s adventures lead to a cat leg injury, it is no fun for anyone.

You need to get them back to their playful selves. And one thing that will help do that is feeding your cat a supplement.

Supplements like Integricare’s TRI-ACTA for pets offer key benefits, including cartilage repair and inflammation reduction, both helpful in the prevention and treatment of cat leg injuries. Plus, TRI-ACTA offers you a therapeutic dose of high-quality ingredients in a small, easy to serve dose. That’s good for your wallet, and for your kitty.

Find out where to buy TRI-ACTA or learn more about animal health on our blog.