Paw Pad Issues And Cats: When To Take Them Immediately To An Animal Hospital

Cats are coordinated, sleek and capable movers. They leap and climb to heights that seem impossible. They often give the impression that they are invincible, and may even believe that themselves. The story of each having nine lives was likely started by their ability to fall amazing distances without harm, but they really are just mortal creatures. They rely on their own internal balancing to keep them on their feet and it is those feet that are to thank for so much of their seemingly supernatural abilities. The pads on the paws of tumbling, running and playing cats can take a lot of abuse while they provide them with an amazing amount of shock absorption. Without their pads, the cat would be at risk of breaking bones in the paws and legs when jumping even short distances.  This is why when an injury occurs to a paw pad it needs to handled by a vet as soon as possible. 

Be Aware of Injury Symptoms

Despite the natural survival instinct of cats to hide an illness, they are not able to disguise a sore paw pad as easily. Limping or unusual levels of inactivity are a clue that something is not right, but there are other symptoms to look for as well. 

  • Excessive licking of the paw                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
  • Holding the paw up                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
  • Refusal to be touched or held                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
  • Swelling of the paw 

If an infection is present, as is usually the case once the paw begins to swell, there may also be an odor or the paw may feel unusually warm. Some injuries, like cuts, scrapes and burns are easy to see, but others are not as clear. Puncture wounds, for example, are often small in diameter but very deep. This could mean the natural texture of the pad may hide the wound entirely. This is especially true in cats with black pads.

Watch for Signs of Illness

Paw pads problems are not only related to injuries. The pads are also sometimes affected when the cat has a specific disease. 

  • Pemphigus Foliaceus - This is an autoimmune disease that can lead to blisters and sores on the feet.                                                                                                     
  • Cancer - Cancer does not always need to be located in the paw or the pads for cats to lick at their feet. In some felines, this is a nervous behavior related to the pain they are sensing.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
  • Diabetes - The same circulation issues that humans with diabetes experience can lead to similar foot problems in cats. Limping, licking and sores on the feet could be caused by diabetes. Additional symptoms like rapid weight gain or loss and excessive urination may also be apparent.                                                                                         
  • Plasma Cell Pododermatitis - Commonly known as "Pillow Foot", this disease causes swelling, discomfort and dryness on the pads. If left untreated it often leads to cracks and fissures that can become infected. It can occur randomly or be caused by additional diseases like FIV and FeLV. It is important to have the cat tested and monitored by the vet. 

The pads are important to the cat's ability to be active and are clear signs of the health of the cat. Even something as simple as a untrimmed, ingrown claw could lead to a painful infection. Do not ignore a cat that is limping, licking or chewing their feet. Even if an obvious problem is not seen it is important to get to an animal care center as soon as possible to avoid further illness or injury.