Catster is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

How To Tell if Your Cat Has a Broken Leg: Our Vet Explains the Signs

Written by: Dr. Lauren Demos DVM (Veterinarian)

Last Updated on June 20, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

red tabby cat in pain walking on grass outdoor

How To Tell if Your Cat Has a Broken Leg: Our Vet Explains the Signs


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM) Photo


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM)


The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

A broken leg can be very serious, and very painful—for anyone! Humans and animals alike. With people, it is easy to diagnose a broken leg, as we can talk and say, “It hurts!” As animals obviously can’t talk, and as cats are especially good at hiding illness, knowing when your cat may be suffering from a broken leg may prove to be more difficult.

Here are some tips to identify a possible broken leg in cats. Remember to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible if you suspect your cat may have a broken leg! Generally, they will want to see your cat for an exam, and sometimes an X-ray.

divider 2 cats

The 5 Ways To Tell if Your Cat Has a Broken Leg

1. They Are Limping, or Not Putting Weight on the Leg

It may sound obvious, but one of the easiest signs that your cat could potentially have a broken leg is if they are limping. This can, however, look very different, depending on the cat, as all cats react to pain differently. Some cats may limp only slightly, while others may not put any weight on the limb in question—choosing to hold it up, instead.

A broken leg can also impact how a cat sits. Some cats with broken legs will hold the limb at an unusual angle when sitting or lying down.

If you notice a more subtle limp in your cat, it can be helpful to take a video of it. This can then be brought to a vet appointment, or even emailed ahead of time so that your vet can better determine what might be going on. This is especially important, as cats may be nervous when going to the vet’s, and may and experience an adrenaline rush that can cause the limping to temporarily disappear.

cat walking
Image By: wilkernet, Pixabay

2. They Are Not Walking

Another obvious sign that your cat may have a broken leg is if they are not walking. Some cats will simply avoid walking if it hurts, and will instead choose to lay down.

If you notice that your normally-active cat is suddenly reluctant to move around, this can be a cause for concern. You can try encouraging your cat to get up and walk by offering food or treats, but never force them to move if they seem painful or uncomfortable.

Not wanting to walk or move is not always unique to a broken leg, as cats that don’t feel well will sometimes act similarly. However, this is a subtle yet strong indication that something is not right with your cat, which should absolutely be taken seriously.

3. They Don’t Want Their Leg Touched

Even if your cat isn’t obviously limping, if they are suddenly reluctant to have one of their legs touched, that can indicate a problem. Some cats are so good at hiding discomfort, that they may still walk and have only a subtle limp. However, many will still react if you try to touch the limb in question, even gently.

It is not recommended you try touching your cat’s limb if you think there is a problem! Instead, take this as a sign that he or she needs to see a veterinarian.

american short hair holding his arm as if injured
Image By: chie hidaka, Shutterstock

4. They Are Hiding (More Than Usual)

Another general indicator that a cat is unwell is a change in behavior, especially a sudden increase in hiding. Some people may think their cat is simply sleeping in places they normally wouldn’t, or that their cat is just out and about for long periods of time.

A cat with a broken leg may hide as a natural reaction to self-protect from predators, or because they are simply too uncomfortable to move. Regardless, hiding behavior in cats may indicate a serious illness, especially if it is a new and unusual behavior for the particular cat. If you notice this behavior with your cat, contact your vet for guidance on how to proceed accordingly.

5. They Are Vocalizing When Walking

Though it may sound like a no-brainer, if your cat suddenly starts vocalizing when walking or putting weight onto a certain limb, this can indicate pain or discomfort. Again, taking a video to show your veterinary team can be very helpful, as many cats won’t display the same behavior when at a veterinary clinic.

cat in pain while walking
Image By: Sherrianne Talon, Shutterstock

divider 2 cats


Signs of a broken leg in cats can range from obvious to subtle. While the signs we mentioned may be more subtle indications of a broken leg, you should still reach out to your veterinarian to have your cat seen if you notice any of them.

Remember that cats are masters of hiding illness and pain, so if ever in doubt, it’s best to err on the side of caution, and contact your vet for further advice!

Featured Image Credit: lagunabluemolly, Pixabay

Get Catster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.
Catster Editors Choice Badge
Shopping Cart


© Pangolia Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.