One of my cats unexpectedly started limping about 2 weeks ago. She was fine one day, then the next day she was heavily limping on her left hind leg and within another day or so she would not even attempt to step on it, simply jumping on one hind leg keeping the other close to her belly. If it's important, she is around 12-13 years old (she's a rescue, so nobody really knows for sure).

As it was Christmas, it was impossible to get to the vet on the day, so I took her to a vet as soon as I could a couple of days later. They did an x-ray and afterwards the vet told me that from the x-ray it's most likely that she had a torn ligament in her knee. I took the cat home along with 2 weeks' worth of anti-inflammatory medication. They said a surgery could be considered, but only after the cat would lose some weight. Otherwise, just give her a lot of peace and quiet, make sure she doesn't need to jump/run/etc - and it would heal on its own over a period of a couple of months or maybe a bit more.

A few days later I got a phone call from the vet that they were reviewing the x-rays again with another vet and that other vet commented that there may be a bit of bone loss in her leg, which means that she's got a bone tumor and her leg would need to be amputated to spare her constant pain. The vet emphasised that such a tumor is usually benign.

Now, this doesn't seem to add up for me. If it were bone loss caused by a bone tumor, it would be gradual; instead, the limping came on abruptly: everything was perfectly fine one day and she was not stepping on the leg the next day. Also, she doesn't seem at all to be in pain. Her behaviour hasn't changed other than less movement. She is still happily eating and drinking.

I'm taking her to the vet again tomorrow - they want to do a biopsy of the tissue. Yet, I'm now suspicious about the whole thing. Obviously, if there's no other way to save the cat, we'll go for the amputation, but I don't want to do it just because "whatever". The vet stated it almost in passing, the same way I would state that I need to buy some cat food.

My question is: how likely is this really to be a bone loss due to tumor vs. what else it can be? Even if this is a tumor, is there any way to avoid amputating the leg?

In regards to her weight, for her size, the ideal weight is about 5 kg. She is currently 6.7 kg. She was abused early in her life, then taken away from her owner by RSPCA and I adopted her from RSPCA. When I brought her home, she was under 3 kg. Despite trying to control her diet, she quickly gained weight (she'd go outside and catch mice or birds and eat them) and got to 8.5 kg within a year. We've managed to lose about 2 kg since then. Overall, she's lived with me for about 10 years or so.

  • Limping due to bone loss from bone cancer can indeed come on suddenly; your assumption that it would "have to be gradual" is incorrect. Definitely have the vet look more closely to determine whether it's a tumor or not.
    – Allison C
    Commented Jan 7, 2019 at 14:49
  • 1
    In regard to cats not showing pain, that is actually a recurring hurdle. Cats don't really communicate pain as long as they can cope with it; you usually only figure it out by seeing them physically struggle, or their strong response when you touch a sore part. Try to avoid "I didn't see them in pain" as an argument as your cat may simply not telegraph pain until it becomes unmanageable.
    – Flater
    Commented Jan 10, 2019 at 10:36

1 Answer 1


I'm not a Veterinarian, but it might be worthwhile to get a second opinion. You should be able to pick up the x-rays to take to another Vet (along with your cat) for their opinion. I would think that they should be able to tell the difference between a tumor and bone loss before they perform surgery. Wouldn't you? How crushed would you be if the leg was amputated when it didn't need to be?

  • definitely get a second opinion and if possible new x-rays too. Commented Jan 7, 2019 at 5:58
  • Thanks for your answer. Along with everything else, I have to be mindful of the costs. X-rays cost about £500 already plus very consultation fee... But I'll see what's possible.
    – Aleks G
    Commented Jan 7, 2019 at 6:56
  • Also, they say that bone loss is caused by a tumor, which sounds a bit strange.
    – Aleks G
    Commented Jan 7, 2019 at 6:56
  • I agree... ask the Vet to show you exactly where this mysterious bone loss (or tumor) is on the x-ray. (Point at it and explain the diagnosis.) It shouldnt cost anything extra to do that because you've already paid for the exam. You just want more information about what they've said. Take that x-ray with you, if you decide to consult with a second Vet, so you won't have to pay for more x-rays.
    – elbrant
    Commented Jan 7, 2019 at 15:29
  • @AleksG cant you get the copy of xray and post it to biology stack exchange to get expert opinion here.
    – gfdsal
    Commented Sep 26, 2020 at 10:58

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