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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

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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cat

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12 years

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Unknown severity

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0 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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0 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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1 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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recommendation-ribbon

3320 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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Joe

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Grey short hair

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6 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Back Legs Putting Pressure On Them

our cat came home and his moving slower his putting pressure on back legs but he wont jump up on the sofa anymore..what could cause it no wounds or hotness on his back legs

July 21, 2018

Joe's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Joe may have had a trauma or injury that has hurt his spine, pelvis, or back legs. If he is not improving over 24 hours, it would be a good idea to have him seen by a veterinarian to see what might be going on.

July 21, 2018

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Lucy

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DOMESTIC

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11 Weeks

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Limping

I have a 11 week old kitten, she jumped off of me and we took her to the vet where the vet said she had a muscle strain/sprain. A few days later she jumped off the couch and hurt her back leg and had the same thing happen where she won't walk on it for a couple of days but then slowly starts walking on it. Is there something I should be giving her to strengthen her muscles so that she won't keep doing this? I am keeping her off of high places but she is rambunctious so I am afraid she will still hurt herself. Shes eating, drinking, using the box etc like normal.

July 18, 2018

Lucy's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

It seems like she is just young and not landing correctly or jumping from a height; you should try to restrict movement especially whilst she is recovering and see how she goes. You should also ensure that she is getting adequate nutrition with a diet suitable for her age and breed. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 19, 2018

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Gussie

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Siamese

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8 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Limping

My cat was running in the house and got her rear leg caught in the carpet and did a 180 degree turn and then minutes later she returned limping. She can still walk but, and not much behavior change. She was biting me after i tried to pet her for the first couple hours. The next day she was back to her old self and wanted to be petted and did her usual activity, but is still limping. I am considering taking her to the vet to get her looked at but don't want to pay the money for something I can fix at home. When she got her claw caught on the carpet she did tore off the nail, but no open wounds or bleeding. When I touched her foot the first day she bit me, and howling, but the next day about 13 hours after her injury she is fine, but she does tell me not by a quick growl not to touch my foot. I already did some research online and found that most sprain is just a couple days, but I don't like how she limping still doing her rounds but limping. My question is take her to the vet or just wait couple days and see if it heals on its own?

July 8, 2018

Gussie's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

If Gussie is putting weight on the leg, and eating and drinking and acting normally otherwise, you should be okay to monitor her for 48 hours for improvement. She should gradually put more pressure on the leg and become more comfortable if it is a strain or a sprain. If she stops putting weight on the leg, or it doesn't seem to be improving back to normal over a couple of days, then it would be a good idea to have her seen by a veterinarian.

July 8, 2018

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Moodie

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american shorhair

dog-age-icon

5 Years

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

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Limping
Limping, Slipping
Limping, Slipping,

So i got home from work yesterday and noticed that my cat is not as active as normal, I did noticed that the left side of her body is a bit bigger, i did picked her up but she made a very loud scream, I took her to the vets and it was not her belly, it was her back that's hurting her. Came home with some buprenorphine from the Vets. Now im really concerned of this because she's been hiding since we got back from the vets and only eat/drinks a bit. Chonstaly crouching, What are the chances of her having a torn muscle instead of something else that's causing this.

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Leo

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tabby

dog-age-icon

4 Weeks

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

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Sleepy
Withdrawn
Unstable Walk

One of our 4 week old kittens was stepped on. Initial complain, is quiet and not his rambunctious self. Its been about 5hrs he is still quiet and sleeping not interested in playing with his siblings. He woke up about an hour ago had a small feed from mum and has attempted to walk around but he seems to be wobbly. I have checked his legs and body he doesn’t seem to be in pain he was even going to jump down about a foot in height( I caught him to prevent further injury). But when he walks its almost like he is learning to walk again.

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Nola

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Calico

dog-age-icon

13 Years

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

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Licking
Limb Swelling
Limping

About half way through the day Nola just started limping, we had been laying down all day so far and she stretches a lot when she gets up from just about everything so I walked around she followed me, she got a little bit better. Not long after i laid out a heat pad for her and she was loving it still somewhat of a limp but better than better than before, I would touch hind legs, hips down to toes and she wouldnt pull away or meow but her ankle bone felt different from the other side. This is the next morning and her foot is thicker in size (swollen?) and she is back to limping but she will still walk and jump if necessary

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Ollie

dog-breed-icon

Tabby Cat

dog-age-icon

3 Years

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

Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

There is a stray cat I have been occasionally feeding for the past few months. He has been sleeping on my porch chair all day so when it came time for dinner I noticed him limping. He hovers his back right leg over the ground when standing and will only put SLIGHT pressure on it when walking. He can still hop up onto the chair but hasn’t moved in a few hours now as he’s been very sleepy. From what I saw, there is no open wound or clear broken bone, leading me to believe he strained it/muscle tear. He let me place food on the chair he was on and ate everything. He lets me pet him but would never let me pick him up. I’m a college student so I dont have a cat-carrier or a car to get him to a vet. What should I do? How expensive would a vet visit be if I could figure out a way to get him there? Can I sneak baby aspirin into his food?

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Jasper

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moggy

dog-age-icon

2 Years

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

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Leg Pain,
Leg Pain, Tail Sore
Leg Pain, Tail Sore, Limp Tail

My cat had pain in his tail and after meds wore off pain in leg and couldn't get comfortable. X-ray by emergency vet said was a fractured pelvis, a follow up with our own vet said he wasn't convinced it was fractured and now doing additional X-rays. Could it be a muscle problem or tear that could cause let and tail pain?

Muscle Tear Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$850