Your feline friend needs strong healthy legs to play and enjoy life. That's why it's so important to watch for joint, paw or nail problems that could restrict your pet's movement and affect his short and long-term health.

Watch Him Walk

Your cat won't point out a sore toe, but his gait can speak volumes. Call your veterinarian immediately if your cat starts limping, appears stiff or pained or has trouble sitting or standing. If he's limping, check his paws too. Report any hair loss, sores, swollen or crooked toes, torn nails or unusual smells or colors to your vet.

Look at the Legs

Check your cat's legs regularly for sore spots, lumps or swelling, especially at the joints. A good time to do this is during your regular brushing sessions. A hidden injury or illness can cause stiffness or pain in legs and joints. Call your vet if you suspect a problem. Healthy legs are symmetrical and have good muscle tone and flexibility.

Peek at the Paws

If your cat spends time outdoors, he has more opportunities to injure his pads than indoor cats do. Plus, cats aren't big complainers by nature, so you might not realize one of his pads is cracked or cut unless you check. Inspect your pet's paws regularly to catch cuts and cracks early on.

The areas between his toes can also hide problems. Check for sores, lumps, matted hair and wedged-in grass or dirt.

Clean minor cuts with mild soap and water and check often to be sure they're healing. Call your vet about bleeding or open sores.

Notice the Nails

A scratching post will help wear down your cat's nails, but you'll most likely have to trim them regularly as well. If you can't properly trim your cat's nails yourself, have a pro do it.