Cat Limping Front Leg? Causes and Remedies!

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Out of all the external symptoms suggesting that your cats may be in distress, limping on one of their front legs is probably the most telling. And that’s why many cat owners asked us: What causes cat limping front leg and how to treat it?

Cats’ front legs are just like humans’ pair of arms. But because cats can’t walk on hind legs like us, their front limbs play even more crucial role in their lives.

Therefore, it is the owner’s duty to keep an eye on their beloved cat’s gait to spot any abnormality, then infer from that sign, not only what has happened to their feline friends that makes them lame but also the possible treatments and precautions for future references.

Why Is My Cat Limping?

Hurt Paw Pads

Cats are curious by instinct. So let’s not omit the likelihood of them unwittingly marches on foreign objects during their daily adventures in your or your neighbors’ gardens, on the rooftops, under the basement, etc.

The first and common presumption springing to the owner’s mind when they are wondering “What causes cat limping front leg?” is usually “He must have stepped on something!” These random items could range from some harmless floral seeds to sharp glass, or even metal fragments.

If the embedded piece is small and its edges are blunt, there may be nothing much to worry about (except for minor discomfort and awkward walk from your cat). All you have to do is gently extracting the stuck object off of the kitten’s paw, and things will be well again.

Otherwise, if the lameness is accompanied with other symptoms such as blood shedding, you will need to take a closer look to it. And don’t hesitate to see the veterinarian immediately if the foreign bit is irremovable. The longer you delay the trip, the worse the possible infections on your cat’s paw will become.

Injured Muscles

This is another reason why your cat returns home with a limping front leg after a whole day playing outdoors. The reasonable explanation could be that he has engaged himself in a catfight. Consequently, his muscles and other soft tissues are wounded.

In addition to the lameness, if your feline friend’s front paw shows signs of heat and swelling after a while, or he doesn’t want to jump even from a short distance while he always holds the offended paw off the ground, he probably has a strained muscle, tendonitis, or injured ligament.

But whichever the causes, the limping will only get worse over time if you don’t pay close attention and take your furry friend to the vet clinic as soon as possible.

Fractured or Broken Bones

Sometimes, cats’ playfulness knows no bound. That’s why it’s quite common to see a cat with a limping front leg.

For example, your cat decided to do a sudden stunt and jumped out in front of your moving vehicle, or leaped down from a high windowsill. His front legs made contact first with the hard surface after falling, and they were most at risk of getting sprained, fractured or worse - broken.

Usually, the symptoms for such cases would be a limping front leg together with swelling, disfigurement, and even bone protruding through the skin.

Pins and splints would be required to immobilize the damaged limb, as well as to support the bones and tendons inside, before applying any further treatments by the vet’s orders.

Claw-Related Problems

If your shaggy friend is beside you at all time - no catfights, no outdoor explorations whatsoever, and still one day you see him limping towards you without any visible external injury, then the plausible answer for this case is that he may have an ingrown claw or two.

As the cats grow, their claws get longer and thicker. But without a scratching post or regular trimming from the owner, the claws will be overgrown, then cut in the paw pads while curling in on themselves.

Detecting your long-haired cat’s ingrown claws might be a tricky task, especially if your cat is a Persian, Norwegian Forest, or Himalayan, etc. Therefore, you’ll need to observe him very closely. 

Sometimes, a cat limping on his front leg happens when he scratches on something too hard and rough (like the tree bark) or too tangle (like a woolen carpet), which yanks his claws off. Such wounds are usually painful to the cat, so he can’t walk normally afterward.

Other times, it is the owner’s fault for trimming the cat’s claws too short and too deep, which cuts into the “quick” (the part that is the blood supply of the claw), resulting in bleeding paws and limping posture.

Mental Diseases and Cancers

Cancer is a destructive disease with various devastating variants. It can develop bone or joint infections just as easily and quickly as it can create tumors in your beloved cat’s brain.

Cancer tissues damage the bones’ structures, making them weaker and more susceptible to disruption. In certain cases, the tumor can cause limping if it presses on the certain nervous system.

Other illnesses are seizures and epilepsy. These syndromes can be inborn or triggered after a hard concussion of the head. Though they are certainly less fatal than cancer, they are still just as worrisome. It would be inconvenient labor for your cat to stand up and walk normally right after he falls into one of these epilepsy episodes.

Arthritis Symptoms

Arthritis occurs inside of the bones. Therefore, it is not easy to spot at first sight in comparison with a fractured or broken bone wound. This type of ailment makes mobility a hard labor for cats of all ages. Each movement would hurt him too much, and he has to limp very slowly towards his destination.


  • Regarding neurological diseases and cancers, surgery or steroids may be advisable treatments.
  • Otherwise, if it is just a minor infection caused by a sharp piece of glass, the object will be swiftly removed and the cat’s wound will be dressed after being applied chlorhexidine or betadine.
  • As for a sprained paw, a torn ligament, or shoulder tendonitis, depending on the gravity of the damage caused, it may require cryotherapy, surgery to repair the tendon or just regular physical therapy. Usually, these wounds will heal completely on condition that during recovery, the cat must remain indoors and stay clear off his feet.

Also, obesity can increase the chance of cruciate ligament rupture and arthritis. So, make sure your cat always has a healthy diet with high-quality cat food.


As a responsible cat owner, you should take matters into your own hands and check if something goes amiss on your feline friends’ body.

Remember to never underestimate even the most seemingly minor, insignificant signs like a swell on their paw or a limp in their posture. Even though these symptoms may look normal at the moment, they can get worse later.

In short, it’s fine to employ home treatment methods if you know for certain the origin of the lameness to treat the condition well. Otherwise, if you’re not sure what made your cat’s limping front leg, take him to the veterinarian who will take x-rays to diagnose the problem accurately.

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