Lameness Average Cost

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What are Lameness?

Lameness isn’t an illness, rather it is a symptom of an illness or injury. Once the cat owner notices their cat limping, it’s important to get the right diagnosis so the cat doesn’t develop permanent muscle or nerve disorders.

A cat who is unable to walk, run, or jump normally may be considered lame. The cat may be in obvious pain and the affected limb may look abnormal. While cats are generally able to land upright when they jump or fall, it is possible for them to suffer limb injuries which result in lameness. Some cats may develop lameness as the result of an illness.

Symptoms of Lameness in Cats

Cats are experts in hiding signs of illness or injury. As an injury or illness worsens, however, the cat will be unable to hide its pain, making symptoms easier to spot:

  • Stiffness
  • Lessened physical activity (jumping or running)
  • More vocalization than normal
  • Refusing to be touched or handled
  • Decreased interactions with others
  • Lessened appetite
  • Favors the affected limb, obviously limping
  • Stops to rest while walking
  • Unable to walk
  • Acts aggressively
  • Swelling in the affected limb
  • Inflammation
  • Lethargic
  • Refuses to bear weight on affected limb

Causes of Lameness in Cats

It’s not only jumps or falls from high areas that lead to a cat becoming lame. Other causes can include:


  • Ligament injuries
  • Bruising
  • Broken bones
  • Tendonitis
  • Myositis or inflamed muscle
  • Bites from other animals
  • Frostbite
  • Broken claw
  • Infection of the claw bed
  • Cut in pad of foot or on leg
  • Footpad disease
  • Object embedded in the foot
  • Snake bite
  • Injury to spinal disc or vertebrae


  • Osteoarthritis
  • Nerve damage
  • Developmental or congenital conditions
  • Joint condition (may be inflammatory)
  • Infections, such as calicivirus
  • Progressive polyarthritis (immune system disorder)
  • Cancer of the bone
  • Metabolic disease such as diabetes
  • Fungal infection
  • Bad nutrition
  • Minor stroke

Diagnosis of Lameness in Cats

The vet relies on their patients’ owners to describe just what is happening to the cat. Using the owner's’ observations, the vet gives the cat a full physical exam, looking for signs of the lameness, as well as what is causing the condition. 

During the exam, the vet may find obvious causes, such as a foreign object embedded in the footpad. Other underlying causes may not be as easy to detect. This is when the vet gives one of several kinds of tests to the cat:

  • X-rays
  • Blood testing (looking for infectious or immune system diseases)
  • Biopsies
  • Removing joint fluid with a fine needle 
  • CT scan or MRI
  • Ultrasound
  • Neurological exam
  • Myelograph (injecting dye along the spinal cord and taking a special X-ray)
  • Electromyography (recording electrical activity of affected muscle tissue)
  • Endoscopic exploratory surgery

Treatment of Lameness in Cats

In addition to treating the underlying cause of a cat’s lameness, vets want to manage the pain the cat is feeling. They will start with a less invasive treatment before moving to a more invasive pain treatment if the less invasive options don’t work.

The first option is pain medications, which range from nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, which reduce joint or ligament inflammation. While the cat is taking this medication, the vet will be watching the cat closely to ensure it doesn’t develop kidney, liver, or gastrointestinal damage. Along with this form of treatment, the vet may prescribe cage rest.

If NSAIDS don’t work, the vet will prescribe opioid pain medications, such as tramadol, buprenorphine or butorphanol. These medications are reserved for more acute pain. The cat can take oral medications or receive injections of this medication.

Chondroprotectants are drugs that protect the cartilage that surrounds the joint. These medications are reserved for cats diagnosed with osteoarthritis as they work to slow degradation of the cartilage in the affected limb. Again, these medications are given orally or as injections.

Complementary treatments may pain relief to the cat. These include chiropractic treatments, acupuncture, and physical therapy. Laser therapy may also be helpful. These treatments are intended to increase physical comfort to the cat as it works to return to a more normal function. Other treatments can include massage and dietary changes.

If the cat has a congenital condition that limits  the use of the limb or causes significant pain, the vet may suggest surgery to the cat’s owner.

Recovery of Lameness in Cats

Depending on the cause of a cat’s lameness and it’s severity, along with the method of treatment and follow-up care, the affected cat can generally recover. For cats affected by osteoarthritis, their medication will help to slow the progress of the disease as well as offer some pain relief. If the arthritic cat is also overweight, a change in cat food that allows it to lose the extra weight can also lead to more significant relief of pain and lameness.

For cats diagnosed with osteoarthritis, it will be necessary to take pain relieving medications for the rest of its life. Regular veterinary follow-ups will also help improve quality of life for the pet.

Cat foods that contain a higher amount of Omega 3 and 6 (fatty acids) can also provide a small amount of pain relief by improving the health of affected joints.

Lameness Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

12 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms


Medication Used

Anti Inflamatory

My cat is 12 years old and developed sudden lameness and difficulty walking with its back legs before he was very active for his age was able to run and jump then suddenly came homemaking funny took him to vet they did exam and said he has arthritis but I'm finding it hard to accept how could it be so sudden His stomach is also
filled with a lot of gas

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1099 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. If Patches goes outside, any number of things could have happened to him, and if he had arthritis to begin with, any injury may have exacerbated any pain that he was experiencing. If he is on anti-inflammatory pain medications from your veteirnarian, his lamemess should improve. If he continues to be sore or lame, he should be rechecked by your veteirnarian to see what else might be going on, and have x-rays if needed.

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12 Months
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms


My cat is limping he is lifting his back left leg up I can see a little bit of a sore there the front of foot dunno if he has caught it on something he's still walking around letting us stroke him jumping up and also eating I don't know what to do

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2514 Recommendations
If there is a sore on the front of the paw you should bathe the area with a dilute antiseptic and apply an antibiotic ointment to the area to be on the safe side especially after using the litter tray. You should also try to restrict movement to prevent further damage to the paw, you may also need to place a cone to prevent licking or biting. If there is no improvement after a few days you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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1 Year
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

My cat jumped off my back and it sounded like she landed hard. I saw her limp a little bit in her back right foot. But after that she was running away from me with her tail puffed out, she seemed frightened. She can jump on the counter normal and seems to be walking normal. Any thing else I should look for?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1099 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. If Stella is acting and walking normally, and eating and drinking and not showing any signs of limping or pain, you should be fine to monitor her for any signs of discomfort. If she does continue to limp, or stops wanting to jump on and off of things, or seems uncomfortable, she should be examined by a veterinarian to make sure that everything is okay. I hope that all goes well for her!

My kitty was walking around normally Saturday and then Sunday his hind legs seem to not be working? He tries to walk but will fall. I brought him over food and he will still eat but he has a tough time walking? I am making a vet apt but was curious on any other second opinions
Thank you!

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6 Months
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms


we have had our ragdoll kitten for about 6 months now, and up until today he was running, playing, like any normal kitten. yesterday we noticed a limp to his walk, he would walk, and sit, walk and sit, you could see that he is laboring his back legs, we have touched his legs, squeezed his legs, even put pressure on his legs, and there seems to be no problems, but why the walking problem?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1099 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Without examining Calvin, I'm not sure what might be going on with his back end, but if his back legs seem to be giving him problems, it would be a good idea to have him examined by your veterinarian to make sure that there aren't any muscular or neurologic issues that he might be having. I hope that all goes well for him.

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4 Months
Moderate condition
1 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
seeking warmth

hello, My name is Sawrra. I have a 4 months old ordinary stray kitten. I have been raising her since she was only a month old. her other siblings died and her mother had already passed away.
she was very playful 3 days ago but have been acting lethargic now. She seems to have lost weight and seeks warmth all the time. although her appetite is normal, but I don't understand the cause. At first, I thought something is wrong with her paws because she was not letting me touch them, but i can't see any injury. And yes whenever i am around she prefers to stay close to me or lie in my lap. Please help me and let me know what can i give her until i take her to the vet.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1099 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. I'm sorry that Flash doesn't seem to be feeling well. Kittens are prone to parasites, infectious disease, and infections. Unfortunately I am not sure what you might be able to give her to feel better, as I haven't examined her. She needs to continue to eat and drink, and it would be best to have her seen by your veterinarian as soon as possible I hope that she is okay.

Thankyou Dr. I'll have her checked soon..

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3 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms


Should I take my cat to the vet or not. He isn’t eating as much as normal, sleeping more, wont let me touch his feet, acts sore/ uncomfortable when he moves. His meow sounds weak/hoarse and his body temp seems cooler than normal. He refused to come/stay inside during the cold. Maybe frost bite?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2514 Recommendations
You know Derek better than anyone and if you are thinking of taking him to the Veterinarian, then you should; there are many causes for the symptoms you’re describing and it would be best to have him checked over to be on the safe side. I cannot say with any certainty what the cause is, but it is important to keep him hydrated and encourage eating. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Domestic cat
6 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms


My cat has been limping randomly for about two weeks, he seems fine, he's eating normally, but up until last night he didn't go outside which is unusual for him. He's not currently limping but it definitely seems like something is up.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2514 Recommendations

There are numerous different causes for periodic lameness in cats. Due to these possible different causes, it would be best to have Roger checked by her Veterinarian as I am unable to suggest a cause without examining him. Ligament injury, dislocation, bone tumours, arthritis are all possible causes. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Our cat is indoors only and recently in the past week started limping and not wanting to bear her full weight on her right front leg. It has gotten noticeably worse the past few days. Cats are notorious for having high pain tolerance and hiding their pain. Therefore if your cat is showing signs of discomfort and pain involving her limb then I would recommend having your vet check her over so she doesn't suffer by hiding or undermining her pain. We are taking our cat to the vet tomorrow after a week of limping that has gotten worse. If we find out anything that may be of help to you then I will pass it along, but I truly do recommend taking your furbaby to be checked out. ~April

My cat has been lame for 4 days now and i cannot find the cause other than her leg, i got home from work one day and she was being very strange. My cat is very nice and passive so she doesn't bite which is why i hadn't known until i picked her up. She's been limping and prefers to stay laying down and i am very concerned. One of her legs is limp and when i moved it around to see if it was the problem she got very agitated and annoyed and started meowing. She's been eating okay, and she purrs when i get home but does not move often and I've had to help her into the litter box several times now. She also refrains from cleaning her paw of the affected leg. Is my best option to get her evaluated or just wait till she heals? I have no idea what caused this since we live alone.

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