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What is Front Leg Injury?

Front leg injuries range from mild and simple to treat to complex and serious. Regardless, it is important to seek medical care if your cat has experienced any type of harm to their forelimbs.

A number of different things can lead to your cat sustaining a front leg injury. Issues with the forelimb can occur due to some form of trauma like a road accident or fall, or even landing wrong after a jump. If you notice something off in your cat's gait such as a limp or a hesitation to bear weight, then they may have suffered a forelimb injury.

Front Leg Injury Average Cost

From 327 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,800

Average Cost

$850

Symptoms of Front Leg Injury in Cats

A variety of signs exist to indicate that your cat is dealing with a front leg injury. Listed below are some of the symptoms they may exhibit:

  • Limping (otherwise known as lameness; it can occur continuously or intermittently)
  • Swelling in muscles/joints
  • Redness/warmth of the area
  • Lethargy
  • Reluctance to bear weight on limb
  • Limb deformity (e.g. bone sticking out, bent in odd direction)
  • Agitation (e.g. hissing when damaged limb is touched)

Types

There is a variety of injuries that can cause trauma to the front leg, and they are as varied as the symptoms your cat can present. Some of the more common ailments include:

  • Strained/pulled muscle
  • Bone fracture/dislocation
  • Damaged tendon/ligament (e.g. carpal hyperextension)
  • Infection due to bite or other trauma
  • Arthritis
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Causes of Front Leg Injury in Cats

A few things commonly cause injuries to a cat’s front leg. Some can be extremely severe, while others can be treated rather easily. No matter, if your cat experiences any of the following, it is important to seek professional treatment to assure they heal properly:

  • A bite from an animal or insect can lead to an infection of the limb.
  • Traumatic accidents such as being struck by a motor vehicle or falling from heights can cause severe injuries.
  • Jumping can cause tears or strains on soft tissues or joints.
  • Landing from heights can injure front legs.
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Diagnosis of Front Leg Injury in Cats

Due to the broad range of causes and types of leg injuries, a veterinarian will be sure to conduct a comprehensive examination to determine just how to handle your cat's injury. One of the first steps a vet will take is asking for a complete medical history. This can help determine if the issues with your cat's front legs are due to illnesses such as arthritis.

Next, your cat will undergo a complete physical examination. During this evaluation, your cat may be sedated in order for the tests to be performed adequately and without causing further stress to the animal. If your cat has been bitten or has an open wound, your vet will check the site for any infections. Blood work may be done as well to determine your cat's overall health. Another primary test conducted is a standard X-ray; however, the scan may not always indicate exactly what is wrong.

Your vet may also wish to check for instability which is done by overextending the damaged limb, otherwise known as a stress radiograph. This particular test is usually done in the case of damage to the ligaments such as the case with carpal hyperextension. In the case of a major trauma, it can sometimes lead to internal damage. If this is the case, further tests will be conducted such as a CT scan.

You can assist in the diagnosis process by keeping track of the symptoms your cat has presented and how long these signs have been occurring.

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Treatment of Front Leg Injury in Cats

Once a diagnosis has been discovered, it is important that you follow your vet's treatment plan in order for your cat to heal.

Immobilization

Depending on the injury, stabilizing the limb can help improve your cat's condition. To keep it immobilized, a bandage or splint will be used. Sometimes, this is only a temporary treatment to prevent further damage while a more definite treatment is sought. The use of just a cast or splint within a bandage can successfully treat certain front leg injuries. This immobilization can sometimes last as little as four weeks or longer than six.

Surgery

In the case of a major front leg injury, your vet will recommend surgery. They may insert pins or wires through the skin/bone that often noticeably poke out of the skin. In some cases, these are all removed upon the bone healing. In other cases, things such as pins or screws that are placed on or inside the bone are kept in as long as there are no further complications.

Another surgery your vet may perform concerns joint fusion, or what is known as 'arthrodesis.' This can be temporary or permanent. This procedure can cause a decrease in motion, but even cats that undergo a partial arthrodesis can have greater function. However, some can develop or retain some lameness.

In the event of a severe injury that has caused the front leg to become useless, or if all other options to fix it has been exhausted without success, your vet may recommend amputation. This is a serious option in which your vet will thoroughly examine your cat's overall health to be sure no other treatment can be taken, as well as whether or not their remaining limbs can support them.

Infection Treatment

If the front leg is infected due to cases such as an animal bite, then your vet may want to place your cat under anesthesia first in order to treat the infection. The afflicted area will be disinfected, and if an abscess has formed, then the pus will be removed and the wound promptly flushed and sterilized. Prompt treatment with antibiotics once an infection is noticed can help prevent the development of an abscess.

Medication

Beyond antibiotics to treat infections, your vet may prescribe a couple of different medications depending on the primary treatments. Anti-inflammatory medication will greatly assist in handling swelling as well as any fevers that may arise. To manage your cat's pain, your vet may inject painkillers while the pet is hospitalized. Once sent home, further oral pain medication can be given according to the plan laid out by your vet.

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Recovery of Front Leg Injury in Cats

It is always important to keep a close watch on your cat once they have been treated for a front leg injury, and the time it takes to fully recover depends on the severity of the damage.

If your cat has been bandaged, it is necessary to properly observe and care for it daily. You should follow up immediately with your vet if you notice things such as your cat showing major signs of discomfort with the bandage, any sort of odors or sores, or any swelling around the bandage such as in the toes. Also, be sure to keep the bandage clean and dry, and avoid modifying the splint in any way. Your vet will walk you through the proper way to change the bandages, and you should keep to a regular schedule.

Following any treatment, especially surgery, it is essential that your cat is well rested and that activity is restricted. You can confine your cat to a single room, but be aware that they can jump from various surfaces, so be sure to remove anything that they can leap on or off of. Your vet may recommend 'cage rest', something that many owners and pets alike find difficult at times. In spite of any feelings on the matter, it is important to follow the vet's instructions if they have ordered your cat to be in a crate while healing.

Your cat may also arrive home with an Elizabethan Collar to prevent chewing on the area, something typically used for up to two weeks. This is mainly in the case of amputation. Limiting your cat's activity following this treatment is vital until they have recovered.

Make certain to have routine follow-up appointments with your vet. They can more properly check any dressings, remove sutures, and order X-rays to be sure the injury is healing.

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Front Leg Injury Average Cost

From 327 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,800

Average Cost

$850

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Front Leg Injury Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Unknown

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Four Years

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Limping

About last week my cat fell at a really bad angle and damaged her front paw. My mother gave her gabapentin to calm her down because I was not there to comfort her. She has been limping all week with very slight improvement and I can not find any noticeable bruise. She lets me touch all parts of the damaged leg so I thought it was not broken. I was wondering if it is normal for a cat to limp for this long or if I should take her to the vet.

Aug. 5, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. If she suffered a strain, or a sprain, that can take quite a while to heal. If she seems generally comfortable and it is getting better, it may be fine to monitor her, as long as she is strictly indoors where she is safe. If it is not getting better and just continues to bother her, it would be a good idea to have her seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine her and take x-rays if needed. I hope that she is okay.

Aug. 5, 2020

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Kitten

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6 weeks

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Limping, Meows And Hisses When Touch Leg

Most vets want to wait til 8 weeks this happened today.

July 28, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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Hello- Thank you for your question. Since she is limping and painful I would recommend getting an appointment set up with a veterinarian as soon as possible. They can perform x-rays to make sure there is not a fracture and if all is normal can prescribe pain medication to keep her more comfortable. I would try and keep her from running around and jumping so that she can rest the limb. I hope she gets to feeling better soon. She’s adorable!

July 28, 2020

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kitten

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Eight Weeks

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Limping

our kitten started limping yesterday and is sleeping alot

July 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. without seeing your kitten, I cannot say what is going on, but common things that happen to kittens are infections, abscesses, or infectious diseases. If this continues, it would be best to have your kitten seen by a veterinarian. They will be able to examine your kitten, see what might be going on, and get treatment. I hope that all goes well for your kitten.

July 25, 2020

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Domestic Shorthair

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One Year

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Swelling, Not Putting Weight On Front Leg, Meoowing When Inspected, Green Pus Coming Out

what has happened to my cat's front leg? He has not been putting much weight on his front leg (not paw) and it has been spilling out pus. H e is unable to bend back that leg as far as his other leg and I'm really worried.

July 14, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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Hello, SO sorry to hear about your cat. This may be an abscess. Your vet can get you antibiotics to clear these infections. Also, they can examine the leg and make sure that there is not anything else wrong. I hope your cat starts to feel better soon.

July 14, 2020

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tabby

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Six Years

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Has Symptoms

Limping

A few days ago, I noticed my cat limping and holding her front paw up and away from the ground. I cannot afford a vet right now and have no one to give me medical advice. It is not painful to the touch, warm, abnormally shaped/colored, etc, but it does make her uncomfortable for me to touch it or for her to put weight on it. I have applied some very light pressure to her paw to see if she may have accidentally hurt it since she has a habit of getting her claws stuck in things and just pulling it away to get free. This did not cause her distress and I did not see anything on the outside.

July 13, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

And say that your cat is having problems Unfortunately, without being able to see her, I can't say why she might be with me. Cats can get abscesses, strains or Sprains, or they can develop infections or tumors. There may be a low-cost veterinary clinic in your area that you can go to, or many large chain veterinary clinics offer a free first exam that you may be able to use to have her seen. I hope that she is okay.

July 13, 2020

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Flint

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Tiger

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3 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

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Limping, Not Using Leg

Hello, I have a three year old cat and he fell out of a tree an he broke his leg in the shoulder area i am in a dilemma of weather or not i should amputate the leg or have the vet do surgery to put plating in the leg. what are the long term pros and cons of both amputation and plating?

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Honey

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Calico

dog-age-icon

18 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

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Large Grape Sized Lump On Front Leg

Large lump found on the lower part of my cats front leg. It appeared pretty quickly and is the size of a grape. She is 18 years old and doesn’t seem to be in any pain.

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Pawlet

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Shorthaired tux

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9 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

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Limping On Front Left Leg.
Limping, Holding Up Front Left Leg.

I have a 9 year old cat that started limping, and holding the leg up when sitting. Took her to vet yesterday, took x-rays. The x-rays showed a foreign body up by the top of the leg (femur, no swelling. A vet doctor of 30 years, said she has NO idea what it is and has never seen anything like it! X-rays were sent off to radiologist.Prayers

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Midnight

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Cat

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3 Months

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Moderate severity

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Loss Of Feeling

A dog got ahold of my cat's front paw and degloved the paw. It's healing nicely but the vet is telling me that he believes the cat has nerve damage and doesn't feel a thing from the elbow down and wants to amputate. Is amputation necessary? It is so expensive.

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Allie

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Calico

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8 Months

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Front White Paws Turned Grey

My name is Heather, I have an almost 1 year old calico cat and recently her front paws both turned from white to grey wondering if this is normal? And if it's not what it might be. She is walking fine and doesn't seem in pain.

Front Leg Injury Average Cost

From 327 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,800

Average Cost

$850