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Find information on animal health topics, written for the veterinary professional.

Lameness in Cats

By Russell R. Hanson, DVM, DACVS, DACVECC, Professor of Equine Surgery, Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Auburn University
Joerg A. Auer, DrMedVet, Dr h c, MS, DACVS, DECVS, Professor and Director, Equine Department, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zürich
Joseph Harari, MS, DVM, DACVS, Veterinary Surgeon, Veterinary Surgical Specialists, Spokane, WA
Dale A. Moore, MS, DVM, MPVM, PhD, Associate Professor, Veterinary Medical Teaching and Research Center, University of California-Davis
Sheldon Padgett, DVM, MS, DACVS,

Also see professional content regarding lameness in small animals.

Lameness is not a disease, but it may indicate a disorder in the musculoskeletal system. Signs of musculoskeletal disorders include weakness, lameness, limb swelling, and joint dysfunction. Nerve reaction and muscle function may be impaired as a result of changes to neuromuscular tissues. Problems with the muscles and skeleton may also affect other organ systems, including the urinary, digestive, and circulatory systems.

In order to diagnose the problem, a veterinarian will need to examine the cat and hear a careful recounting of any previous injuries and its overall health and history. A veterinarian may also use x-rays, ultrasonography, and other less common imaging techniques to visualize the cause of the lameness. Other techniques that might be used to aid in the diagnosis include withdrawal and examination of joint fluids, surgical inspection of the inside of a joint using an endoscope, electromyography, and tissue biopsy and examination.

Relieving pain is an important component of treatment for lame animals, and may allow faster recovery. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and other pain-relieving drugs are commonly used to control pain in lame animals. Other methods of pain relief, such as acupuncture, massage, and even changes to the diet may also be recommended (Veterinary.heading on page Lameness in Dogs).