Did you know that paw pads on the bottom of cats feet are actually thickened layers of fat and tissue? They also help provide traction, and act as shock absorbers for the bones, tendons and ligaments of the limb. Since cats use their paws for a variety of tasks, including movement, hunting and playing, exposure to injury becomes more likely.
1. Cracked/cut paw pads
Cats are natural explorers who sometimes get into foreign places. Since cats are often exposed to extreme elements or rough surfaces, it is important to check their paws regularly for any cuts, sores, splinters or swellings. The most obvious way to determine whether or not your cat has a cracked or cut paw is to notice their walk. Your cat may begin to limp and avoid the injured paw, lifting it above the ground as they move. If you notice your cat behaving in this manner, gently examine the paw to determine the extent of the injury. If your cat has been exposed to extreme hot and cold weather, use a vet recommended moisturizer to apply to their paws (we are loving Happy Paws by pawsitiveFX).
If there is bleeding, apply direct pressure to the wound with sterile gauze or a clean cloth. Once the bleeding stops, tape the gauze in place (but be sure to contact your veterinarian if the bleeding continues). If there is no bleeding or if the cut appears minor, clean the wound with an antiseptic solution that is safe for cats (using a syringe is recommended to flush the solution over the surface of the wound).
2. Ingrown toenails
One of the most common paw problems in cats is the presence of ingrown toenails. Ingrown toenails may occur due to complications from declawing or regular trimming maintenance. If left unattended, an ingrown toenail will grow into the paw pad, which can be very uncomfortable and may lead to the onset of an infection. It is recommended to regularly trim your cats nails in order to prevent ingrown toenails. Click here to learn how to trim your cat’s nails in 5 easy steps.
3. Extra toes
“Polydactyl” is the term used for a cat that has more than 5 toes in the front and 4 in the back. A polydactyl cat may have claws in awkward positions, which can prevent natural filing and result in snagging. Usually, this results in damage to both the paw and the furniture. To best prevent this from happening, all polydactyl cats should have their claws trimmed regularly and frequently inspected for ingrown nails, ripped toes, infections and growth problems.
Our feline friends, especially those who roam outdoors, should be monitored regularly to reduce any potential for injury. Remember: regular nail trims every 2-4 weeks are crucial to avoid ingrown nails, and if you happen to have a polydactyl cat, ensure you are keeping on top of inspection to avoid any infection!