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What is Muscle Tear?

If your cat is limping, moving slowly, having difficulty getting up and down, or calling out in pain, your cat may have injured its soft muscular tissue. You should make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible. In severe cases, visit an emergency veterinary hospital, as your cat may be in a significant amount of pain and your vet will attempt to rule out more serious injuries such as broken bones or wounds that might become infected.

A muscle tear, often called a strained muscle, can occur in a cat when the cat moves too quickly, in an awkward way, or attempts to make a movement that is too strenuous for the strength of that particular animal. When this happens, the muscle may sustain a small tear or multiple small tears in the muscle fibers. This injury can range from slightly uncomfortable for your cat to extremely painful and debilitating depending upon the severity of the injury and the length of time between the injury and when you seek treatment for your cat at a veterinary office or hospital.

Muscle Tear Average Cost

From 452 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$850

Symptoms of Muscle Tear in Cats

The symptoms of a muscle tear in cats are similar to the symptoms in any other animal with a muscle injury, including humans. Since your cat cannot communicate its pain to you in the same way you could communicate it to your doctor, you will need to be intentional about noticing and acting on any changes in your cat’s behavior that serve as signs that your cat has hurt itself. The following symptoms often accompany a muscle tear:

  • Limping
  • Restlessness and trouble getting comfortable
  • Abnormal withdrawal and hiding
  • Unwillingness to be petted or picked up
  • Difficulty positioning for grooming, which may cause matting in fur
  • Refusal to put any weight on one or more limbs
  • Difficulty lying down or getting up
  • Inability to run or jump
  • Muscle spasms
  • Swelling
  • Painful vocalization at the time of injury or when trying to move
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Causes of Muscle Tear in Cats

Cats tend to be very athletic animals, which causes muscle injuries to be very common in cats. There are a number of ways these injuries occur in cats just as there are in other animals and humans. In addition, the muscles may weaken as your cat ages, making your cat more susceptible to soft tissue injuries. The following actions, when they go even slightly wrong, can cause a muscle tear.

  • Energetic or rough play
  • Jumping and landing, especially from significant heights 
  • Fighting with other cats or animals
  • Fleeing from another animal or loud noise
  • Blunt injury such as being hit, kicked, pushed, or bumped
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Diagnosis of Muscle Tear in Cats

As is typical during any visit to your veterinarian, the vet will likely begin the visit by asking you to describe the symptoms you have observed and by doing a thorough physical examination of your cat. In order to make a diagnosis, the vet may also:

  • Observe the cat’s movements
  • Search for a wound on the cat’s paw or legs
  • Use his or her hands to put light pressure on muscles to locate where the cat is hurt
  • Feel for arthritic swelling at the joints
  • Prescribe seven days of rest to see if the injury resolves itself; if not, this helps the vet diagnose the injury as, perhaps, something more serious
  • Order X-rays to rule out broken bones, torn ligaments, muscle tumors, joint dislocation, and arthritis
  • Order an extensive orthopedic exam to be conducted while your cat is under anesthesia
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Treatment of Muscle Tear in Cats

Muscle tears are very common injuries in cats. Treatment for muscle tears are usually quite simple and mirror treatments for humans with the same injury, although with medications designed specifically for cats. These treatments are:

  • Rest
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications by pill or injection
  • Pain medication 
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Recovery of Muscle Tear in Cats

If there is not a recurrence of the injury, most muscle tears will heal in one to two weeks, especially with anti-inflammatories, pain management, and rest. During recovery your cat may need to be kept inside and away from other pets and small children, sometimes even in a crate. An overweight cat will be more susceptible to injury than a cat at a healthy weight, so weight management is important to help in the prevention of future injuries. If there is a certain activity that your cat often engages in that is causing repeated injury, the vet will likely encourage you to find a way to help your cat to avoid this activity. After a particular muscle has been injured once, it is not uncommon for a cat to re-injure the same tissue in the future. Your vet will likely schedule a follow-up appointment to check your cat’s progress toward normal painless movement. The majority of cats make a full recovery from even a severe muscle tear.

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Muscle Tear Average Cost

From 452 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$850

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Muscle Tear Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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cat

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12 years

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Unknown severity

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7 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Torn Muscle

Hi, My cat Chillie is 12 years old. He pre-existing medical conditions, all bowel related. Today he was behaving and walking normally, he then slipped and fell off of a table. Immediately after he had a difficulty walking and getting up the stairs, and has since the fall, had immense trouble walking and getting comfortable and lying down. We looked into the possibilities of it being a muscle tear and found similarities in that. We wanted to consult with a vet to see how we could treat this so it can heal properly and if other action needs to be taken for it to heal, please and thank you!

July 31, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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7 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I'm sorry that has happened to Chillie. Without being able to examine him, unfortunately, I can't say for sure that a muscle tear is what happened, is that is not particularly common in animal. They more often get joint pain arthritis pain, and strains and sprains of joints and ligaments. What you can do for him in the short-term, his rest, move his food, water, and litter box near him so that he does not have to move around very much, and try to keep him quiet. If he improves over a day or two, and seems to be getting around better, then he may heal normally and everything may be fine. If he continues to have problems, or seems uncomfortable, then it would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine him and diagnose what's going on. I hope that everything goes well for him and he feels better soon.

July 31, 2020

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Cheeto Nelson

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Unkown

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6 Months

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Fair severity

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4 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Pain When Touched In Certain Spot
Not Putting Weight On Leg

What if my cat is limping and can’t put weight on his foot but he is fine at getting comfortable, he doesn’t seem like he’s in a lot of pain only when you touch a certain spot, and he’s able to walk a little bit? Do you think he pulled a muscle or just landed on it wrong when he jumped down from his cat tree?

Aug. 25, 2018

Cheeto Nelson's Owner

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4 Recommendations

Without examining Cheeto I cannot say what the cause or severity of the injury is, if there is pain or discomfort you should restrict movement to a cat carrier or similar to prevent running, jumping and playing. Monitor for improvement, but if there is no improvement or Cheeto is vocalising in pain visit your Veterinarian for an examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 25, 2018

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Muscle Tear Average Cost

From 452 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$850

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