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Cat Fakes Limp For Sympathy

Does your cat appear to fake a limp for attention or sympathy? Do you wonder if this is normal? Learn what motivates this behavior and why cats might fake injury or illness in this quick overview.

Danielle DeGroot

Last Updated: January 18, 2024 | 8 min read

Portrait of charming curious cat Scottish Straight standing with raised paw isolated on white background

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Does it ever feel like your cat is faking a limp to get your sympathy? Believe it or not, you are not alone. Cats are amazing actors and have played the fake limp game for a long time.

Whether a purr parent or not, you have probably seen a cat limping about at some point. Though it is common to see felines limping around, this is quite worrying for owners. It may be hard to tell if a pet is limping because they are hurt or sick or if it is a pretend ailment.

Why would a kitty pretend to limp? Purr parents are always looking for explanations about feline behavior, specifically things like faking an injury. In this quick guide, we answer your questions about cats faking a limp for sympathy. Let’s get into it and find out what’s behind this feline behavior.

Why Do Cats Fake Limp?

There are several reasons why cats fake limp. The most common reason is they want attention. Felines can understand when they are being ignored. Some will go to great lengths to get your attention. Faking an injury will get them immediate attention, even if it ends when their owner realizes they are being played. They may associate a previous injury with special attention and have realized that limping about will get them some extra TLC.

Cats do not just limp to get attention. Other reasons include wanting to enter the house or get a treat. Kitties are also known to fake limp when they are feeling anxious or stressed.

Why Is My Cat Limping Suddenly But Was Just Normal?

There are a few reasons a cat that was perfectly normal one minute might be limping the next. There is a chance they might be faking it, but there is also the probability of something being wrong. Cats might twist their paws, sprain a leg, have an ingrown claw, get a claw stuck in something, rip a claw out, or step on something, just to name a few possibilities. Felines can suffer muscle and joint issues that may cause a legitime stagger or mobility concern.

Along with a sudden injury, felines can also suffer from more serious health issues like arthritis or a broken limb. In some cases, a torn nail can become an infection. Cats who go outside or even those who live in homes with other pets can get bites or scratches. It is always best to first rule out any kind of injury or illness.

Owners should never assume a purr baby is faking, and you do not want to overlook or miss a serious sign of pain, injury, or illness. Remember, felines communicate with us through body language and actions. Limping, whether due to injury or faking, clearly indicates that a kitty wants some attention.

Do Cats Fake Injuries?

A brown and white cat with yellow eyes bites its nails
Felines are incredibly smart animals.

Yes, cats do fake injuries, most often as a way to get affection and sympathy. They can learn to understand human behavior and body language. Kitties also learn to notice our emotions and vocal cues. They use this knowledge to interact and sometimes manipulate owners to get what they want.

Felines are adept at communicating through their body language. Pretending to falter when walking is one way they can do this. Fake limping is sometimes a sign of distress. Cats use it to show their people they are feeling anxious or overwhelmed. Kitties may fake limpness to show that they feel pain or get extra food and praise from their owners.

There is a strong possibility that felines may develop a bogus wobble as a survival instinct. Scientists believe that felines evolved the ability to pretend limpness to protect themselves from predators. By appearing weak, kitties are less likely to be attacked by predators. They use a faux hobble to signify pain and weakness, which may discourage predators from attacking them.

Cats are also known to pretend to be hurt to get sympathy from their owners. This is especially true when kitties are feeling anxious or stressed. Felines understand human emotions, and they are capable of manipulating us by faking injuries. Stay calm and patient when your cat fakes an injury, and give them reassurance, positive affection, and love.

Cat Falls Limp Suddenly

Cats sometimes can fall limp when we pick them up. This is most often a way to get some extra attention. This is also referred to as going floppy and is something some breeds do naturally. The Ragdoll is also called the floppy cat due to a propensity to go limp when picked up. Even if your purr baby is not a Raggy or Ragdoll mix, they might behave this way.

A feline going limp, especially when they relax and expose their belly, is a sign of trust. This means your purr baby feels totally comfortable and does not sense any threats. They trust you completely. As kittens, all breeds fall limp and relax when their mothers pick them up, and they feel relaxed and safe. Most breeds grow out of this, but some do not.

Most of the time, a kitty going completely relaxed and floppy when picked up is a sign of trust and affection. If your cat is limp before being picked up, is lethargic, has low energy, or has trouble moving, contact your veterinarian immediately. This is not normal, and you must have your purr baby checked on as soon as possible.

How to Respond When Your Cat Fakes A Limp

When your kitty fakes a limp, remain calm and patient. Take care to observe your pet to see if the injury is real or not. If a real concern, you should take your pet to the vet. If it’s a fake injury, you should ignore their efforts and wait for them to stop wobbling about. Additionally, it’s important to provide your pet with plenty of love and affection and ensure they have a wide selection of toys and activities to keep them busy.

Sometimes a feline faking a hobble is a way of covering up another symptom or illness. Felines are very good at faking being ok, and a feigned hobble might be a manifestation of something else. Always pay attention to any time a cat acts hurt, and observe what is happening around them. Observe for a while to see if they keep limping or if this behavior and distress happens only around you.

Cat Pretending To Be Hurt

A cat can pretend to be hurt in various ways and for various reasons. Most of the time, it is because they know they will get love, attention, sympathy, and special treatment if they appear hurt. They learn this early on, especially if they have been sick. Many kittens learn this when they go through the spay-neuter procedure. Who would not want a little extra pampering now and then?

Sometimes a feline may pretend to be hurt to avoid being left alone. This is not limited to a stagger, either. Kitties are also notorious for faking eye injuries and even coughing. If you notice your kitty limping or pawing around their eye, err with caution and call the vet. You always want to rule out sickness, irritants, infections, or injury. Even if your pet is faking, it’s better to ensure nothing is wrong, and there is always the possibility something else is going on.

Older kitties are exceptional at masking symptoms of illness. Always observe them closely if you suspect a real or fake injury. Take note of how the injury changes. Is your kitty limping on the same side every time? Are they only wobbly around you, or is it happening all the time? What other things are happening that might cause your pet to want more attention? Stay tuned in to your pet to see how things progress.

What To Do When Your Cat Fakes A limp

Close up of cat's paws and person holding with finger

Pet parents often wonder what to do when a cat fakes a hobble, cough, or another injury. It can be tempting to give in and give them those extra snuggles, but is that the best way to handle this behavior? Most experts advise the opposite. Giving in only encourages your kitty to continue with this manipulative ruse. It is more effective to ignore it, so they will give up and reserve limping for when it is a true medical issue. If you are sure your cat is not hurt, try the following tips to discourage more manipulative behavior.

  1. Try not to give in. Ignore these feline advances and attempts at being sad enough to garner your sympathy.
  2. Do not act worried or rush over to examine them.
  3. No cuddles or treats.
  4. Do not let them know they are a “poor kitty,” a “sad baby,” or that you are “sorry they feel sick.”
  5. Make sure to observe them for signs of illness or injury, and contact the vet if you have any questions.
  6. Refrain from getting angry. Do not yell or punish your pet for faking an injury. Instead, give them lots of cuddles, treats, and one-on-one playtime when not forging distressed. This will give them that positive reinforcement and attention they crave and hopefully stop the unnecessary feigned distress.
  7. Try to give your feline friend a wide variety of toys and ways to interact so they will not want to fake an injury. Felines need physical and mental stimulation every day. Make sure they have places to hide, climb, and exercise options, like cat treadmill wheels. Provide them with a high-quality diet, including various treats and different kinds of food.
  8. Things like puzzle feeders and interactive toys will keep your kitty entertained longer and make meals last longer. Some kitties can even learn to walk on leashes, giving them a nice adventure outside. Dedicated purr parents with outside room to spare can even build a “catio,” an outdoor enclosed patio where kitties can roam freely without any risk of danger.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it normal for my cat to fake a limp?

It is fairly normal behavior for felines to pretend to limp. Not every cat will do it, but some kitties may engage in this for several reasons. Most often, they seek attention, either because they feel left out or because they have an underlying health issue. Make sure to rule out underlying health issues, but try not to give in and give out extra attention when kitties start faking a hobble.

Can a cat fake being scared?

No, cats do not pretend to be afraid. A feline experiencing fear will likely show a true, authentic reaction to a sudden stimulus. It is very unlikely that a kitty will fake being scared.

Do cats fake illnesses for attention?

Cats will fake illness or being hurt to recieve attention, food, treats, cuddles, or extra special treatment. Though felines can force a cough and will feign a stagger or injury, they do not pretend to vomit. Make sure to pay close attention anytime a feline starts vomiting.

Final Thoughts

Cats are remarkably clever creatures, capable of understanding human emotions and manipulating us by faking injuries. False hobbling is a method kitties may use to communicate their feelings and is usually for attention or sympathy. Additionally, felines may feign limps as a survival instinct to protect themselves from predators. If your purr baby feigns being hurt, try to keep your cool, be patient, and give them loads of attention, interaction, and affection, just not during their manipulative show.

Cats may also imitate injuries as a means of hunting, as appearing weak or injured can make them appear more vulnerable to prey animals. Overall, this behavior is thought to be driven by natural instincts and the ability to adapt to the environment and circumstances. Kitties are much smarter than we give them credit for. They are capable of understanding our emotions and manipulating us in clever ways. So, the next time your feline friend fakes an injury, remember that they may just be trying to get your attention and show you that they care.

Angry cat hisses to another cat

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