If you have had a limp before, you must know that it is not a pleasant experience. The limping itself is highly inconvenient but the condition behind it is usually worse. Those that have experienced a limp before can relate to the discomfort a cat must feel when limping. Lethargy and limping on their own are rather simple conditions. The issue with these two is usually the underlying condition that’s causing them. Since both are very general signs of disease, it is quite difficult to pinpoint their cause in cats. This is especially true in cats with no past medical issues. On their own without the other, lethargy and limping are both no cause for worry when they first appear. A simple change in the weather may make your cat more sleepy than usual which is normal. However, if your cat is experiencing both lethargy and limping, it could mean that there is an underlying health issue which needs a visit to the vet.
What is Lethargy in Cats?
Lethargy is a condition in which a cat lacks energy or enthusiasm. Lethargy can occur due to simple reasons like bad weather, a cold, or a simply bad mood. However, in some instances, it may be a symptom of a serious illness like cancer, respiratory disease, or heart disease. In such cases, it tends to persist for longer. Cats sleep a lot. For this reason, it may be difficult to tell if and when your cat is lethargic. Lethargy, however, is not just defined by an increase in sleep. A cat can sleep a lot but still have enthusiasm for activities like playing when she is awake. A lethargic feline will not only want to sleep a lot but will also not be actively interested in her surroundings. The best way to tell if your cat is lethargic or just sleepy is to know her usual sleeping habits and patterns. If your cat doesn’t like to sleep in the afternoons but starts to all of a sudden, it may be an indication of lethargy.
Why do Cats Limp?
The causes for limping are so many it would be very difficult to exhaust them all. Any disease or condition that affects the cat’s ability to walk can result in a limp. The most common causes for a limp in cats are related to a soft tissue injury to the leg. Soft tissue injuries include bruises, wounds, scrapes, or injection marks. Sometimes, a limp may be caused by a condition in an organ completely unattached to the leg for example the spine. Limping in cats or any animal is unfortunately usually accompanied by pain. The cat will avoid putting pressure on the affected leg as it is painful.
Causes of Lethargy and Limping in Cats
- Bone Break or Fracture. The role of a bone is to support the body and keep it upright while walking or standing. When a bone breaks, this support is compromised. Fractures are extremely painful. Putting pressure on the leg with the fracture may inflict too much pain which will cause the the cat to limp.
- Infection (more specifically in the paw/leg area). An infection is usually just an increase in microbes especially bacteria in the body. However, if an infection is left untreated, it can progress and cause some real damage. Infections are usually accompanied by inflammation which causes pain.
- Arthritis. Arthritis is a condition defined by increased inflammation in the joints. It can range from mild to severe levels. In mild arthritis, your cat may continue to live normally but in the case of severe arthritis, the pain can become unbearable. The cause of arthritis can be tricky to determine since it develops over time. A good diet and pain killers may help if your cat has severe arthritis.
- Hip Dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a condition where the socket at the hip joint doesn’t fully cover the ball of the bone. This causes a portion of the bone to stick out of the socket. Depending on how severe it is, hip dysplasia may cause a slight limp or completely make walking difficult for your cat.
- Neurological Disorders. Believe it or not, a disorder in your cat’s nervous system may be the cause of her limp. Fortunately, these are rare but can be quite hard on a cat if present. Such disorders include lumbosacral disease, a condition caused by the degeneration or wear of the lumbosacral joint (a joint in the lower back that is key to movement).
- Cancer. Cancer can also cause a limp in your cat’s walk. The cancer may occur in your cat’s leg and directly affect her ability to walk or it may be in an unrelated organ and indirectly cause a limp. As you may know, cancer is a complicated disease to treat but with proper management, your cat’s symptoms may improve.
What to do if Your Cat is Limping and Lethargic
If your cat has a limp and is also lethargic, you should be concerned for her well-being. As soon as you notice the limp, inspect her legs and body for possible injury. If there is no visible injury, suspect an internal cause. For the lethargy, it is best to first confirm if it is truly there. Cats love their sleep so you may be mistaken. Knowing your cat’s sleep pattern will be of great help here. If you notice a deviation from her normal sleep habits, then there may be cause for concern. When checking for lethargy, remember, it’s not just about oversleeping, it can also be seen during waking hours. Cats love to play during their waking hours. If your cat is reluctant to play, it may be a sign of lethargy. If she is not getting up like she usually does when you get home, she is most likely lethargic. Once you have confirmed that your limping cat is indeed lethargic, it is best to visit a veterinarian immediately. The veterinarian should be able to examine and identify what’s causing the changes. The vet may have to perform a blood test and x-rays if the cause is not so obvious.
How to Move an Injured Cat or Kitten
Since your cat needs to be brought to the vet, it is very important for you to know how to safely move your cat. Moving your cat recklessly might make the situation worse. Before moving your sick cat or kitty, it might help to ask a vet what you can do to ease your cat’s discomfort in the mean time. Your usually friendly cat may be more aggressive due to the irritation coming from the injury. To move an injured cat, it is best to place her in a container, preferably one with an open top. An open-top allows the cat to get into the container easily. Do not squeeze your cat into a tiny kitty door if she is injured. Keep her warm and comfortable by throwing a blanket over her.
Treatment and Recovery
When to Approach a Veterinarian
If your cat is simply limping without any other symptoms, it may not be necessary to rush her to a veterinarian. You can monitor the limp for 2 to 3 days to see if it improves. If the limp does not resolve, then you can take your cat to the vet. If the cat’s limp seems painful, you may ask a vet if you can give pain medication. Similar to limping, if lethargy is not in combination with other signs and symptoms, monitor your cat’s progress for a few days. If the lethargy does not resolve, seek the help of a veterinarian. If the limp is in combination with lethargy, see a vet as soon as possible. If there are even more symptoms such as difficulty breathing and vomiting, it may be best to contact emergency vet services.
Other Signs and Symptoms that may Need Emergency Vet Care
- Reduced appetite
- Soiling the house instead of using the litter box
- Pain in the legs
- Reduced grooming
- Diarrhea or constipation and digestive discomfort
- An infected wound on the leg
- Weight gain or weight loss
After seeing a vet, you as a pet owner can aid recovery by providing good care at home. Allow enough time for rest. Rest is a very important factor in recovery. Another way to help is by giving alternate therapies like CBD oil.
CBD Oil for Cats
The role of CBD in health is becoming more apparent day by day. CBD is a cannabinoid extracted from hemp or cannabis. CBD, even though extracted from the same plant as Tetrahydrocannabinol does not elicit a psychoactive reaction when used. The benefits of CBD for humans have been studied for a while. What is unknown to many is how much good CBD can do for pets as well. The research on CBD for cats and other pets is highly promising and many pet owners are seeing positive results in their cats after using CBD. Some of the benefits your cat may experience after using CBD include;
- Pain relief. The effect of CBD on pain is one of its well-studied benefits. CBD has a pain-relieving effect which can be useful if your cat’s limping is caused by pain.
- Improved mood. CBD has the ability to boost mood by acting on the same receptors as serotonin (a neurotransmitter whose release stimulates mood).
- Reduced anxiety. Through its action on serotonin receptors, CBD may also help cats with anxiety.
- Digestive relief. This can be helpful in cats that are not eating well.
Remember even though CBD can provide all these wonderful benefits, it is not a replacement for medication. CBD is meant to work with your cat’s medication, not in place of it. Even though CBD provides so many health benefits for felines, it can have some side effects, especially if not used properly. Some of these effects include vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness.
Our Final Thoughts
Lethargy and limping on their own can mean nothing. However, when combined, they are usually a sign of a much more complicated health problem. If you notice both limping and lethargy in your cat, it is highly advisable to see a vet as soon as possible. A vet should perform an examination and find out what is causing the symptoms. Your cat can then start to undergo treatment of both the underlying cause and the symptoms. If a cause cannot be determined, management of symptoms especially pain can still be done. Cat owners can also participate in the treatment process by giving a good diet, providing a safe environment at home, and trying alternative methods such as CBD oil. Always remember to consult your vet before starting your cat on any new regimen.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is my cat so lethargic all of a sudden?
Cats can get lethargic from simple causes like overeating or bad weather. However, lethargy can also be caused by more complicated issues like infections, injury, and serious illnesses like cancer.
When should I take my cat to the vet for a limp?
You should see a vet if your cat’s limp persists after about 2 to 3 days. You should see a vet immediately if the limp is accompanied by other symptoms like pain, lethargy, and fever.
Why is my cat suddenly having trouble walking?
The most likely cause of walking difficulties in cats is soft tissue injury. However, it can also be caused by more complex health issues like cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and arthritis.
What should I do if my cat is limping?
If you notice your cat limping, inspect her leg and paw for any injuries. If injured, treat the wound or bruise immediately. If there is no visible injury and the limping does not resolve in about 2 days, see a vet.