Why Is My Indoor Cat Limping?

One of the reasons for keeping cats indoors is to protect them from injuries so it can be confusing and upsetting to see them suddenly start limping. Cats have strong natural instincts to hide their injuries so a limp may mean that they are in considerable pain. Cats will usually limp because of trauma to the muscle or ligaments inside of the leg that they are limping on but there can be a range of other less common causes.

To be clear, limping in cats is when they avoid putting their weight on a particular leg while walking. They might keep it off of the ground when resting and avoid big movements during this tie. Sometimes cats will drag their back legs during a stretch. This most often happens after they have been sitting for a period of time and is normal behavior.

A limp isn’t always serious, but it can be. Indoor cats can injure themselves badly from an awkward fall while exploring the house. Burns or cuts to the paw may also explain why your indoor cat has started limping. We’ve written this article to give you the information to know when you should be worried about your cat limping and what you can do about it.

Should I be concerned if my cat is limping?

You should also take a cat to the vet if there are obvious signs of damage or inflammation to the leg that your cat is limping on. You can inspect your cat’s leg to see if this is the case. Do this by carefully feeling around the leg that they are limping on for obvious swelling. Your cat meowing out of pain while doing this is also a sign of injury.

If you can’t find anything there may have just been a minor injury that will heal by itself. Small sprains or torn muscles that make your cat limp will heal in a day or two after some hours of rest.  However, just because you can’t find any obvious damage doesn’t mean that there isn’t any. If your cat continues limping for more than two days, we recommend bringing your cat to a vet.

If your cat has any other symptoms at the same time as limping, you should also take them to the vet as this is a sign of a more serious medical problem. Be on the lookout for fevers and breathing difficulty with breathing. Spraying outside of the litter box could also be a sign of more serious pain. We would also take a at to the vet sooner if it is obviously in a large amount of pain. Look for changes in behavior such as aggression and meowing out of pain, especially when touched.

Your cat may also be limping due a much more minor discomfort such as a cut or thorn in their paw. They may have even stepped in something sticky which is making their paw uncomfortable to walk on. Small cuts on the paws can be treated at home by keeping them clean. Deeper cuts that bleed excessively will need a trip to the vet. It has also been known for cats to fake limps to get attention or to mimic their owners.

How long does a cat limp take to heal?

Minor sprains that don’t need vet intervention should go away in up to two days. After this, serious injuries that your vet will treat will vary in healing time. Depending on the injury, your vet may prescribe anti-inflammatory medicine or a apply a splint which will take several weeks to heal. Its important that you try to protect your cat from further harm in this time.

Why do cats fake limping?

Cats are clever enough to understand how to manipulate their owners. Some cats may start limping because they realize that it means you give them more attention. They’ll continue the behavior as long as they get what they want. If you have “rewarded” your cat once for this behaviors by paying attention to them or giving them treats it may be difficult to convince them to stop.

You could attempt playing with your cat or installing a camera to watch them while you are away to see if the limping is real or not. We wouldn’t immediately assume that a cat is faking their limp as ignoring a real injury to lead to a worse outcome. However, if it turns out that your cat is faking its injury it would be best to ignore this behavior so they stop doing it as soon as possible. Its not harmful to them but it will make diagnosing a real limp in the future more difficult.

My senior indoor cat is limping

As indoor cats become older, their body will become more susceptible to arthritis. This disease makes your cat’s joints weaker and can effect even younger cats but is very common among senior cats affecting up to 90% of them. A cat is generally considered senior when it is 11 years or older. If you think that your cat could be suffering from arthritis you will need a vet consultation as it is very difficult to diagnose properly.


There are many reasons why your indoor cat would start limping and they range in severity. If your cat starts limping you should gently inspect the leg they are limping on for obvious damage. If you can’t find any obvious damage and your cat has no other symptoms, you can wait a day or two before contacting your vet. Smaller sprains will heal by themselves, but larger ones may need medication or splinting to help the healing process.

Your cat may have become injured after falling awkwardly while playing about the house. Make sure that all the areas that they visit are secure and unlikely to wobble or topple over when your cat jumps on to them. Older cats are much more likely to suffer from arthritis which will make moving their joints painful. Arthritis is difficult to diagnose you should speak to your vet if you suspect that your cat is suffering.