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What are Sprains?

A sprain in a cat is known as a “soft tissue trauma” that happens in the ligaments of one of the cat’s limbs. The affected limb may be swollen and hot to the touch.

A sprain is usually a minor injury to the ligaments in the limbs of a cat. Sprains are also the most common cause for a cat to begin limping after receiving an injury. When cat owners see their pets refusing to put weight on the injured limb, crying out, or favoring that limb, they should make an appointment with the veterinarian. After doing some diagnostic work, the veterinarian may find that the injury is truly a sprain, or they could find another, more serious cause for the cat’s signs.

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Sprains Average Cost

From 540 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$300

Symptoms of Sprains in Cats

The cat who has injured one of its limbs will let its owner know that it’s in pain, especially if the pain is significant:

  • Meowing or crying after getting hurt
  • Lack of appetite
  • Favoring the injured limb
  • Inability to use the injured limb
  • Panting
  • Swelling of the injured limb
  • Personality changes (a normally calm cat may hiss or growl when touched, for instance)

Veterinarians grade sprain injuries according to how much joint and ligament damage is present:

  • Grade 1: Parts of the ligament are torn. The cat experiences some swelling and pain.
  • Grade 2: Ligament is partially torn or greatly stretched. The cat experiences swelling and inability to comfortably use the limb.
  • Grade 3: Ligament is completely torn. The affected bones are no longer joined by the ligament. Surgery is required.
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Causes of Sprains in Cats

Cats can suffer sprains for several reasons:

  • Overweight cats are at higher risk of spraining a limb
  • Rambunctious animals can be injured after hard play or even mild activity
  • Sprain may develop after a traumatic accident
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Diagnosis of Sprains in Cats

A veterinarian may suspect a sprain if they see the cat limping or avoiding use of the limb. To confirm or rule out their tentative diagnosis, they will give the cat a full physical exam, focusing the most on the injured limb. If they feel extra warmth around the limb, along with excessive swelling, they may recommend X-rays to confirm their diagnosis and rule out other injuries. Another diagnostic procedure might be a joint tap, where joint fluid is aspirated from the joint for evaluation by a pathologist. The joint tap may be completed on the cat so the veterinarian can rule out other suspected causes of its lameness and pain.

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Treatment of Sprains in Cats

Once the veterinarian has diagnosed a sprain in the cat, they will likely prescribe rest as the first course of treatment. If the limb continues to be used, the sprain, swelling and pain will not resolve. As long as the cat is restricted to a cage or small area in the house, where it can rest, its injured limb should begin to heal. Recovery can take a minimum of two weeks as long as the rest regimen is strictly enforced at home. Outdoor cats should not be allowed to go outside and roam, because the injury could be worsened.  

The veterinarian may also prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications. These medications help to reduce the inflammation in the cat’s injured limb, which helps to speed healing and recovery. These medications also help to reduce the pain the cat experiences.

Depending on the grade of the sprain, additional treatments may be prescribed, such as splinting the injured limb to protect the joint for a grade one sprain. After several weeks, the cat’s limb may regain normal function.

A grade two sprain requires the anti-inflammatory medications, splinting and possibly surgery to help stabilize the joint. The cat may regain most of its normal function.

In a grade three sprain, surgery will be required. The cat’s recovery may take several months. Function in the limb may be limited.

After seeing the veterinarian for treatment, the cat owner should restrict the cat’s movement. A splint, if used, should be kept dry and clean and the owner should make sure the edges of the splint don’t rub the cat’s sensitive skin. Prescribed medications should be given as directed.

Additional treatments such as natural remedies may be given. These may strengthen joints and muscles in the cat’s body. While the cat is on restricted movement, the veterinarian may recommend supplements, remedies, or medications to promote rest help the cat to stay comfortable and calm during physical therapy.  Any medications or supplements being considered should be discussed with your veterinarian.  

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Recovery of Sprains in Cats

Cats who suffer sprained limbs should recover well from their injuries as long as they were diagnosed correctly and given prompt treatment. The limping should resolve within a few weeks and it usually isn’t necessary for the cat to be seen for a follow-up appointment, except in surgical cases. 

Once the cat has fully recovered, the owner should try to keep the cat indoors if it has been allowed to roam before being injured.

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Sprains Average Cost

From 540 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$300

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Sprains Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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bengal

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Five Years

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Unknown severity

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8 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Limping

My cat fell from the window of the second floor. He ate soon after and has been eating, drinking and sleeping normally. he is limping in one leg. He can walk with it so he puts it down but limps. He seems to have a small bump but no pain as when i touch it he doesnt react bad. Should i just wait it out?

July 17, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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8 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. He may have been in the range of distance where he was able to right himself, and he may be okay. If he continues to eat and drink normally and the limp slowly gets better, you may be able to watch him and make sure that he is improving. If the limp is not getting better over a few days, or the bump is getting larger that you noticed, then it would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian. Also, if he stops eating or seems lethargic that would be a good idea. I hope that all goes well for him.

July 17, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

bengal

dog-age-icon

Five Years

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

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

3 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Limping

My cat fell from the window of the second floor. He ate soon after and has been eating, drinking and sleeping normally. he is limping in one leg. He can walk with it so he puts it down but limps. He seems to have a small bump but no pain as when i touch it he doesnt react bad. Should i just wait it out?

July 17, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

3 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. He may have been in the range of distance where he was able to right himself, and he may be okay. If he continues to eat and drink normally and the limp slowly gets better, you may be able to watch him and make sure that he is improving. If the limp is not getting better over a few days, or the bump is getting larger that you noticed, then it would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian. Also, if he stops eating or seems lethargic that would be a good idea. I hope that all goes well for him.

July 17, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

Sprains Average Cost

From 540 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$300

Vet bills can sneak up on you.

Plan ahead. Get the pawfect insurance plan for your pup.

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