How to Determine if Your Cat's Leg is Broken or Sprained: A Guide to Spotting Feline Injuries

August 09, 2023

As a cat mom/dad, you want to give your feline friend the best life possible, including ensuring maximum safety. Whether you are a home cat or love the outdoors, accidents are unpredictable for this curious creature. They often get themselves in potentially dangerous situations that sometimes injure their delicate limbs.

While this is not always preventable, you can always be careful and note down any unusual changes. We've gathered some key information below to help you understand the situation and take immediate action accordingly.

How to Determine if Your Cat's Leg is Broken or Sprained: A Guide to Spotting Feline Injuries

Let's start with -

How to Tell if Your Cat's Leg Is Broken or Sprained

As accidents occur, your cat starts acting differently depending on the severity of the injury. The signs include lethargy, limping, licking a certain spot, growling, etc. Your loving pet might show signs of pain or discomfort.

At this point, you're worried and perhaps desperately googling, "How to tell if my cat is in pain?" However, before taking any random decision, you must determine whether your cat has sprained or broken leg. And as soon as you understand the condition, you can quickly secure the right treatment for your cat.

A sprained leg might require bandages, but you must rush to the vet as soon as possible for a broken leg. The vet could suggest surgery for a complex fracture.

Some Common Cat Sprained Leg Symptoms include:

Your cat might show these symptoms when it has a sprained leg-

  • Crying or meowing after getting hurt

  • Showing a lack of appetite

  • Favoring the injured leg

  • Couldn't use the injured limb

  • Panting

  • Swelling of the injured limb

  • Personality changes when touched

Now,

How to Tell if Your Cat's Leg Is Broken?

It's not that easy to spot a cat's broken leg. Because both bone-breaking or sprained cases show similar signs of pain, swelling, and limping, but a few differences can help you differentiate the actual case:

  • Pain Level is Higher in Broken Leg: Broken legs cause more pain than spraining them. If you notice your cat is crying out in pain or showing a painful reaction when you touch it, it might be experiencing a broken bone.

  • Bruising and swelling: Broken legs often display bruises or visible swelling. Be alarmed if you notice these because there may be a possibility of fracture.

  • Deformed Leg: You might notice changes in the cat's leg alignment. For example - an unusual form, shorter than the other, bent at a certain angle, etc. Such symptoms indicate major injury, and it's severe enough for you to get medical attention.

  • Difficulty in Bearing Weight: If your cat has a sprain, it will be tough to bear weight. But with a broken leg, it's almost impossible to bear any weight.

How to Treat Sprains in Cats?

Visiting a vet when you suspect a broken leg or sprain is recommended. The vet might perform a physical exam on your cat and do X-rays to determine the extent of the injury. They may also try a tentative diagnosis or joint tap. After the diagnosis, your vet would prescribe the initial treatment.

However, to reduce the swelling and pain, your cat needs to put the leg to rest. Prepare a small area in the house or get a cage. If your cat is restricted in an enclosed space, the injured limb can heal with enough rest. Physical therapies also provide great scope for fast improvement.

Good to know

The most common question regarding a cat's sprained legs is - can a cat sprain heal on its own? Well, it depends on the type of spraining it has. A Grade 1 leg sprain is considered mild and heals on its own. Grade 2 & 3 leg sprains take longer to heal and require veteran treatment.

Cat sprained leg recovery time ranges from about two weeks. But if the cat roams outside and is not restricted at home, the recovery takes longer as this can worsen the injury.

Prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications could help reduce the pain and heal your injured leg by reducing inflammation.

However, the treatment your cat receives entirely depends on the grade of leg sprain. The vet might prescribe a splinting of the injured limb for a Grade One sprain, which could take several weeks to recover and heal.

And grade two sprains take the longest to recover. The treatment might include anti-inflammatory medications, splinting, and often surgery. Sprain recovery could take several months in grade three when surgery is needed.

Taking Care of Your Cat with an Injured Limb

Once the veterinarian prescribes treatment, you must prepare at home to recover your cat faster.

Restricting the cat's movement is a must. If a splint is used on your cat, keep it clean and dry. Ensure the splint's edges don't rub and irritate your cat's sensitive skin.

When your cat is restricted, the vet might prescribe supplements and remedies with medications. No matter what remedies or supplements you're giving to your cat, it must be verified by your vet.

What's Next?

Make sure you're providing your cat's medications as the vet instructed. Also, don't forget to check with your vet for follow-up appointments and verify your cat's recovery.

Forever Vets can be your destination if you're looking for a reliable vet to treat your injured cat. We offer various veterinary services, from preventive care to emergency procedures. Schedule your appointment at Forever Vets to get your cat checked by an experienced vet at a reasonable cost.