Soft Tissue Injuries in Cats

Soft Tissue Trauma (STT) refers to bruises and bleeding of the soft tissue. This is usually the result of blunt force trauma, however, strains and sprains can also be the cause.

Strains are also referred to as torn or pulled muscles. Strains occur when your cat’s muscle fibers are strained beyond their capacity. Whilst sprains affect your cat’s ligaments after moderate to severe injury. Tendons are also prone to trauma through the repetitive strain of tendonitis. Yet, tendon injuries are not particularly common in cats.

Symptoms of STT include:

  • Bruising
  • Limping or lameness
  • Swelling and inflammation
  • Inability or refusal to bear weight on affected limbs.
  • Inability to move joint
  • Stiffness
  • Rapid breathing
  • Refusal to eat
  • Excessive grooming of affected area
  • Change in personality

Cases of STT are more likely to be seen with younger cats than older cats. This is due to them not being 100% aware of their limits. Sadly, some kittens can push their luck a little too far and attempt jumps which result in falls.

Yet even adult cats are prone to injury through accidents or fighting with other pets. Them always being underfoot in a household can easily lead to crushing or bruising. Obesity in cats is another way for cats to experience stress on the muscles, and ligaments. Whatever the cause, if your cat has been involved with any form of trauma, you’ll need to make your vet aware.

Your vet will carry out a complete physical examination to determine the severity of the STT. After he necessary tests, your vet will try to make your cat as comfortable as possible. This may include anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling along side pain relief medication. In some circumstances, sedation may be required to help relax a distressed cat.

Severe sprains and strains may require surgery to repair the damage. Whilst moderate sprains may only need splinting.


Limping is an obvious condition, and one that’s normally the result of a soft tissue injury. Causes of limping in cats include:

  • A fall or slip from height
  • Being hit, i.e. by another cat, or in an accident
  • A broken bone in the paw
  • An ingrown nail
  • A neurological condition (although this is more rare)

The typical treatment for limping is simply to allow the condition to get better over time. However, neurological conditions and ingrown claws require specialist care. You can find more information on the causes of cat limping here.

Hi! My name is Jamie Fallon. I run, an online cat health and cat behavior resource. If I’m not sat in front of my PC—and I usually am—then I’m either spending time with my cats or my other half… Whoever jumps on me or asks me for food first!