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What is Soft Tissue Trauma?

Bruises are a contusion with bleeding of the soft tissue and are usually caused by blunt trauma but can be secondary to a strain or sprain. A strain, also known as a pulled or torn muscle depending on the severity, occurs when the muscle fibres are stretched or torn because they are strained beyond their capacity. A sprain is a strained ligament and can range from being a moderate to a severe injury. Tendons can also experience soft tissue trauma from tendonitis, an inflammation of tendons usually caused by repetitive strain. Although repetitive strain injuries are not particularly common in cats, muscle pulls and sprains are as cats are prone to soft tissue injury from falls and accidents. It is important to clarify that soft tissue injury does not include broken bones or arthritis. 

Soft tissue trauma in cats involves injury to the muscles, tendons and ligaments that surround the cat's bones and joints. The functions of these soft tissues help us to understand how injury to these tissues affects your cat. Muscles provide posture and motion, tendons connect muscles to bones, and ligaments attach bones to other bones. Injuries that affect the functioning of these tissues include bruises, sprains, strains, and tears.

Soft Tissue Trauma Average Cost

From 259 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,000

Average Cost

$500

Symptoms of Soft Tissue Trauma in Cats

Symptoms of soft tissue injury include:

  • Bruising/hematoma (bleeding under the skin from burst capillaries)
  • Limping or lameness
  • Inflammation/swelling
  • Refusal or inability to bear weight
  • Inability to move joint (severe sprains)
  • Stiffness
  • Rapid breathing or other signs of stress
  • Paint/tenderness in affected area
  • Vocalization
  • Lack of appetite
  • Change in personality
  • Excessive licking of affected area
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Causes of Soft Tissue Trauma in Cats

Soft tissue trauma is common in young active animals and kittens who are not aware of their limits and may attempt jumps that result in falls. Roughhousing or play with other animals can result in injury, as being underfoot can result in injuries.

The following can cause crushing, bruising, stretching, tearing or rupture to soft tissues in your cat. 

  • Obese animals - weight results in increased stress on muscles, tendons and ligaments

  • Car accidents
  • Falls
  • Abuse
  • Fights - animal attacks

  • Household accidents
  • Strain from over exercise or exertion
  • Repetitive strain (not common in cats)
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Diagnosis of Soft Tissue Trauma in Cats

Your veterinarian will conduct a complete physical examination of your cat to determine the location and extent of the soft tissue injury. Your veterinarian will ask you about any trauma or incidents your cat has been involved in that may have caused the injury. Usually an X ray to rule out fracture will be ordered. In older animals, your veterinarian will also want to rule out arthritis as a cause of your pet’s symptoms. In the absence of a fracture or arthritis, a diagnosis of soft tissue injury will most likely be made. On occasion, ultrasound or MRI can be used to support soft tissue trauma diagnosis and provide additional information.

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Treatment of Soft Tissue Trauma in Cats

Your veterinarian will provide supportive care as necessary which may include anti inflammatories to reduce swelling and medication for pain. In addition, sedation to quiet a distressed cat with a severe soft tissue injury may be necessary to cam the cat and prevent aggravation of the injury.

Severe sprains involving ligaments or injury to tendons may require splinting. A tear to a ligament may require surgery to repair if severe. 

The treatment your veterinarian will prescribe for most soft tissue injury is rest. Depending on the location and cooperativeness of your pet, ice packs may help decrease swelling and bruising. Bandaging may be effective in providing compression and support to a strained or sprained soft tissue injury. 

Most soft tissue injuries resolve themselves with time and prognosis is good. Your veterinarian may suggest physiotherapy in certain situations if needed to regain function.

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Recovery of Soft Tissue Trauma in Cats

In order for healing of soft tissue trauma to occur, you should ensure your cat rests and restrict activity. If necessary, you may need to restrict your pet to cage rest to ensure this. Your cat should avoid playing, cat trees, stairs, outdoor activity and access to other animals that could cause your cat to re-injure themselves. It usually takes about two weeks for your cat to recover from a soft tissue injury, but you should restrict activity until several days after limping is gone. A sudden increase in inactivity can lead to relapse. Return to your veterinarian for follow up if the injury does not resolve. If limping ceases, no follow up is necessary.

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Soft Tissue Trauma Average Cost

From 259 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,000

Average Cost

$500

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Soft Tissue Trauma Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Tabby

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6 weeks

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Very Sleepy

My kitten just fell about 9 feet from a banister.

Aug. 6, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Your kitten may have injured herself. If she continues to be lethargic or 'sleepy', or doesn't want to move very much, it would be best to have her examined by a veterinarian. They will be able to see what might be going on, and if any treatment is needed. I hope that she is okay.

Aug. 8, 2020

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Tom cat

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6 months

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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Internal

I accidentally ran over the back half of my lil baby kitty ran away dragging his hind legs but is now walking but I can tell he's sore he's eating and drinking somewhat but he just tried to go potty in his box and nothing came out and he howelled a bit after and then laid back down is he going to be ok or ....

Aug. 3, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello- I’m sorry your kitten was injured. He needs to see a veterinarian immediately. They will want to take some x-rays of his hind limbs and spinal column. They can also provide pain medication as it sounds like he’s very uncomfortable, and your vet will be able to tell you his prognosis. If he’s unable to go to the bathroom due to nerve damage he will become very ill. I hope he recovers.

Aug. 3, 2020

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Tabby

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Ten Weeks

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Limping

My kitten jumped from about 3 feet from the bed To the floor. She began limping and meowing like she was in pain. Unfortunately, that happened Friday night, when all vets were closed in my area and the nearest emergency vet is an hour away. Come as of Monday, she hasn’t been limping in a couple days, she walks normal and behaves normal. She eats, drinks, and still uses the restroom. She has been getting on and off the chairs in the house by herself, even when I try to limit her in fear of another injury. Was it just a muscle tension? Her leg looks and feels fine. She’s using and stretches it.

July 14, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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Hello She may have sprained her leg, causing soft tissue or muscle injury, but now she is not painful anymore. As long as she is not limping on it, she is not seriously injured. Glad she is better!

July 14, 2020

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Dude Jackson

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tabby

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8 Months

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Critical severity

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1 found helpful

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Large/Deep Lacerations, Severe Pain

My cat was rambling around in the woods and came home with two terrible injuries to his legs. It's labor day weekend and there are no vets open anywhere even moderately close to me and I'm at a loss. I know that he's in more pain than I could ever imagine and I'm so upset. His right paw is mangled on the top and his left arm is missing a chunk and torn to the bone. You can clearly see all of his muscles and tendons. He was injured Saturday morning and I will not be able to get him to a vet until Tuesday morning. What can I do to make it at least a little better for him? What could a vet do for him? Should I prepare myself for the possibility of euthanization?

Sept. 3, 2018

Dude Jackson's Owner

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Diesel

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tabby

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3 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Limping

My 3 year tabby Diesel had surgery this past Wednesday for a partial tail apputantion. We got him home and he was doing great until Friday night he tried to jump up on furniture and his cone caused him to fall maybe 2-3 feet. Since then he’s been limping on his back leg. We immediately took him to the vet. They did xrays and laser therapy. They saw no broken bones or dislocations. We already had him on pain meds from the surgery so they told us to continue those. It’s now been 48 hours since the fall and he’s to be getting worse as far as no wanting to weight on the leg. If he gets spooked he will run. He will eat. He’s still not pooping since the surgery. Getting very concerned.

Sept. 2, 2018

Diesel's Owner

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Jack Black

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Domestic shorthair

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2 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Back Legs Seem Paralized

My cat, Jack Black, fell off a mattress as I was trying to secure it for storage. He appeared to have no use of back legs. Vet x-rayed him and diagnosed soft tissue damage; 4 weeks ago. He has not improved other than appetite is back, etc. He's not crying in pain and was given Meloxicam in the beginning. He is now dragging his hind legs and from mid back down he's smaller. Vet is on vacation. I suspect nerve damage and need to know what to do please! I did talk to a tech at the vet; said to wait....I can't. He is using litter box, eating and gets around pretty good. Climbed on my bed last night but when getting off he just fell. I'm convinced he can't use back legs...

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Lilith

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Domestic shorthair

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5 Months

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

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Lump

Lilith my kitten jumped down from a cat tree and dislocated her shoulder, it popped right back in ,and never seemed to be in pain,was running around like nothing happened, but now,2 has a soft bump on the shoulder, taking her to the vet next week

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Victoria

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Kitten

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4 Months

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

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Lethargic
Not Eating
Not Drinking
Swallowing Hard
Not Cleaning

Recently adopted 2 kittens, they are brother and sister siblings. They were born may 5 making them 4 months old. About 2 days ago I noticed the girl cat hiding and sleeping more often. She was the more rambunctious one of the two and now rarely plays . All she does is sleep and cuddle us adults. Her meow is now raspy and quiet. Shes lost interest in eating and drinking. Shes let herself go by not cleaning herself much. I'm very worried either her brother or ourjl or 4 year old kids have injured her throat because she is swallowing hard, lethargic, nothing eating or drinking much, and not cleaning herself.

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Bow

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Shorthair

dog-age-icon

10 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Limping

Hey everyone. My cats 10 and his front left leg was swollen a couple of days ago but has since gone down. Even tho the swelling went down he has been kind of lazy( not running around like normal, not coming to the door to greet people, avoiding stairs) hes eating and drinking normal, bathroom normal just kind of seems like his foot or ankle? Might be hurting him still. I dont see any bruising or bleeding but hes been licking the leg i feel more then normal and not really using his nails to pull himself when he rolls over or is stretching out on the bed

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Kitty

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long-haired

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5 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Isolating After Trauma With Pain

My 5 year old cat was attacked by a predator outdoors last night. She disappeared for about 8 hours(possibly up a tree)then, much to our relief,appeared at our door meowing to come in! She ate a bit, did not drink. Was examined by vet right away, no injuries found but she is was favoring a front paw. Vet gave antibiotic and antinflammatory tablet. Now she has disappeared in the house and we can't find her. How long would it be normal for her to isolate and refuse food,water,cat litter?? should we try to bring her out of hiding?

Soft Tissue Trauma Average Cost

From 259 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,000

Average Cost

$500

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