What do I do about my cat that is limping with a swollen leg?

Our question this week was:

Dr. Debra -My cat is about a year old and loves to play outdoors. This morning I noticed him limping and discovered on the inside of his right front leg a raised area. As I examined it closer it is full and draining yellow pus, it is a small hole and the whole leg is swelled. He is sleeping a lot and does not care much for food. I tried to see if maybe he has a splinter in it but he tries to run away when I touch it. I poured peroxide into the hole as best I could. I cannot afford to take him to a vet right now. Please tell me what I can do to help him. Buddy is like a child to me.

Detra Delangel


Hi – thanks for your email Detra. You wrote that your indoor-outdoor cat is limping and has a swollen area on his leg. You said it is draining yellow pus and are worried it is a splinter.

I’d worry it is a bite wound abscess which is very common in cats that go outside. It is possible it is a puncture from another cause but my first guess is that it is a bite wound. Many bite wounds need to be treated with lancing and draining, local wound care as well as antibiotics.

I’d recommend that you take your cat to your veterinarian for evaluation and treatment.

In the meantime, keep you cat inside and make sure he or she is eating and drinking well. You can try placing a warm compress on the area to encourage draining. However, the best treatment is to see your veterinarian.

An article that might be helpful to you is Bite Wounds in Cats.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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