Dry and cracked paw pads can be very painful for your cat. Your cat will be standing upon raw nerves every time they take a step. That’s why it’s crucial to heal your cat’s cracked feet quickly and safely.
It’s vitally important to your pet that you keep their paws in good condition. As well as the discomfort of walking, cats experience the world through vibrations. They rely on their paws to warn of approaching predators, and to test temperatures and textures.
What Causes Cracked Paw Pads in Cats?
A cat’s paw pads get a real workout during a typical day, especially true if your cat enjoys roaming outdoors. Your pet’s paw pads will wear down through regular use, as they don’t wear shoes. Also, your cat could find various foreign objects trapped within their paw pads.
Some of the common reasons for dry, cracked paw pads include:
- Cold Weather. If your cat likes to wander, cold weather will have a major impact on their paws. If it’s freezing outside, this will damage their paw pads. If it’s been snowing, salt and grit on the road will potentially cause severe damage. This could get even worse if your cat proceeds to lick, and ingest, these substances.
- Hot Weather. Arguably the only thing more dangerous than cold weather is excessive heat. Cat paw pads can experience sunburn very quickly at the height of summer. Before letting your cat outside, check the temperature of the sidewalk. You can do this by placing the back of your hand on the ground. If you can’t manage this for more than three seconds, it’s too hot for your cat. Keep them inside until the sun goes down.
- Long Claws. Sometimes, a cat’s claws grow too long, curling and damaging their paw pads. Never declaw your cat’s paws as it’s excruciatingly painful.
- Household Chemicals. Basic household chemicals can be harmful. Be vigilant about clearing up any spillages of substances, such as bleach. These damage cat’s paws, and act as toxins if they lick their paws to soothe discomfort. You should also be careful about what chemicals you use to clean floors and surfaces. The ASPCA has a list of dangerous household products.
- Zinc Deficiency. Check your pet’s favorite cat food. Is it providing all the vitamins and minerals that they need to remain healthy? High-quality cat food will contain everything your cat needs – including zinc. If your cat lacks sufficient zinc in their diet, their skin and paw pads will suffer.
- Medical Conditions. A cat living with an immune disorder such as feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), will experience cracked paws. Other medical concerns, such as Feline Leukemia or even Diabetes, can also lead to cracked paws.
- Fungal Infection. Cat paw fungus isn’t something that anybody likes to think about, but it does occur. This is usually a result of Pododermatitis, a condition that causes inflammation in a cat’s feet and paws. You’ll need the help of a vet if your cat comes down with Pododermatitis. However, as PetMD explains, it’s often treated with a minimum of fuss. A single course of antibiotics usually does the trick.
If you notice an issue with your cat’s paw pads, take fast action. The problem will only get worse. There’s no need to rush to the vet unless your cat is in visible discomfort, though.
You’ll need help if they ingested a toxin from their paws, or have a medical concern. If you are looking at common wear and tear, however, rely upon trusty home remedies.
Dry Cat Paw Remedies
When you notice that your cat has dry paws, try some home remedies. The first course of action that you can take involves dietary supplements:
- Omega-3 is a fatty acid that’s pivotal to a cat’s health. Omega-3 helps promote healthy nails, fur, and skin. Fish is a natural source of Omega-3, so consider offering tinned tuna as an occasional treat. Alternatively, Omega-3 supplements are available from most pet stores.
- Vitamin E is another way of encouraging healthy skin in a cat. This can be applied through food – eggs and spinach are particularly packed with it. You can also pick up oral supplements, or even a topical cream. The latter can be rubbed straight onto the cat’s paws.
Moisture in your cat’s diet is vital to your cat’s skin. If they are fed exclusively on kibble, ensure that they drink plenty of water. You may need to invest in a cat fountain to encourage your cat to drink.
Outside of diet, you can also apply household products to your cat’s paws. Now, bear in mind that cats lick their paws. They’ll do so even more if they feel a substance on them. This means that you’ll need to ensure that you apply a non-toxic product. Popular examples of what’s suitable include:
- Petroleum Jelly (such as Vaseline). Massaging Vaseline into dry, cracked cat paws is a popular remedy. This will moisturize your pet’s paw pads, offering an element of protection. Vaseline is safe to ingest in small doses, and will even help your cat pass hairballs.
- Coconut Oil. Coconut oil is a natural moisturizer that’s great for animal skin. It’s also irresistible to many pets. The biggest challenge you may face is keeping it on your pet long enough to function. Coconut oil is safe in small doses, but moderate your cat’s intake. It’s very fatty, and can lead to weight gain. Also, too much coconut oil can cause diarrhea and vomiting.
- Cocoa Butter and Shea Butter. Although chocolate is toxic to cats, cocoa butter does not contain any of the dangerous ingredients. Besides, it’s packed with Vitamin E. Shea butter provides a similar service. Like coconut oil, however, too much can cause a stomach upset.
- Aloe Vera Gel. Aloe Vera gel can soothe many maladies on your cat’s paws. It may help with a fungal infection, though it’s no substitute for antibiotics. Aloe vera can be toxic if consumed in high quantities, though. If you apply it to your cat’s paws, you may wish to use a bandage.
You can pick up raw ingredients from a health food store, or purchase a pre-mixed balm. This will typically be safer than taking your chances with raw ingredients.
If your cat has a medical condition, you’ll need external help. All the natural ingredients in the world won’t permanently fix a fungal infection. For general wear-and-tear, however, these remedies are often failsafe.
My Cat Won’t Let Me Treat Its Paws
Pet owners often complain that their cat will not allow them to touch their paws. In many respects, this activity is similar to having their tummy tickled. Even if your cat looks like they’ll welcome contact, it’s rarely the case.
If you can’t touch your cat’s paw pads, you can’t treat them. There are numerous possible reasons for feline resistance to having their paws touched:
- Cats loathe feeling defenseless. As they often defend themselves with their claws, removing this ability makes them uncomfortable.
- Cats like to know that they can escape at any moment. By holding onto their paws, you’ll prevent them from being able to do so.
- Cats are sensitive to vibrations on the ground. In addition to their hearing, felines use this to know if somebody or something is approaching. Holding onto their paws is akin to blocking their sensory input.
- Cat paws are extremely sensitive. Any kind of physical contact can be uncomfortable for them. You’ll need to be especially careful and delicate when handling their paws.
- Your cat once had a bad experience concerning their paws. Perhaps they had their nails trimmed and a groomer cut to the quick, causing pain. Cats can have a memory that rivals an elephant when it comes to danger.
You may be able to train your cat into tolerating having their paws touched. Start small, making very gentle inroads into touching their paws during play. Alternatively, lightly touch the tips while they’re relaxed, then offer a treat. You may be scratched a few times initially, so brace yourself. If you’re patient, you may be able to build up trust steadily.
Some cats will never tolerate this, though. It all depends on your pet’s unique personality quirks. You could try forcing the issue, by bringing in a second pair of hands. Get somebody to wrap your cat in a towel and scruff them. This should immobilize your cat long enough to do what you need to do.
Understandably, this approach isn’t for everybody though. If you’re worried about damaging your bond with your cat, speak to a vet. You may need a professional to apply any salve or medication.
My Cat’s Paws are Cracked and Bleeding
While a cat’s paws may often end up cracked through overuse, bleeding is not normal. This must be investigated immediately.
When you first notice your cat’s paws bleeding, check for foreign objects. Your cat may have stepped in broken glass. Alternatively, they have stepped on a sharp rock or stones. Assess your cat’s paws, and remove any stuck within with tweezers.
You should then wash the impacted paw thoroughly with warm water and antiseptic. Cover the wounded area with a sock attached with a rubber band, or a bandage. The latter will be less bothersome to your cat, but ensure they do not remove it.
In the event of bleeding paws, you should see a vet. It’s always safest to ensure that there is not a medical reason for the ailment. Overall, however, accidents will happen with outdoor cats. You’ll have to be vigilant about inspecting and washing their paws whenever they return home.
My Cat’s Paws are Dry and Peeling
Peeling paw pads on a cat can be a common sight in the summer. Just like human skin, a cat’s paw pads will peel is burned. This is why it’s so critical to control your pet’s time outdoors in hot weather.
Peeling paw pads are sometimes a result of exposure to allergens, too. If you notice this issue, ask yourself a few questions. Have you recently changed any household products? Have you switched to a new cat litter? If so, your cat’s paw pads may be reacting to this.
Of course, Pododermatitis is another potential explanation for peeling paw pads. If your cat’s paws are also swollen (this is sometimes referred to as, “pillow foot”), a fungal infection is likely. Wash your cat’s paws, apply some aloe vera gel, and make an appointment with a vet. Your cat will likely need some antibiotics. This may take the form of oral medication, or a topical ointment.
My Cat’s Paw Pads are Falling Off
If your cat’s paw pads are falling off, this is not normal. Your cat has seemingly encountered serious trauma. You will need to get them to a vet ASAP. In the meantime, however, you will need to apply some first aid.
Firstly, cover the open wound. The more your pet walks on this paw pad, the more likely they are to attract bacteria. This can cause a severe infection, and leave your pet in a great deal more discomfort. Apply a bandage and gauze, and keep it tight.
Eventually, your cat’s wounded paw will heal by itself. This process will be considerably more troublesome if the wound becomes infected, though. At the very least, your cat may benefit from a painkiller. You should never provide a cat with human medication unless instructed by a vet.
Symptoms of Other Cat Paw Pad Problems
Not all problems with a cat’s paw pads are immediately visible. You may need to take a look at some of your cat’s behaviors. Any of these could point to a problem with your cat’s paws:
- Limping. Does your cat seem reluctant to place weight on one paw in particular? They may have a foreign object embedded, or something else that is causing pain.
- Excessive Licking and Chewing of Paws. This is a common sign of an allergic reaction in your cat. Have them evaluated by a vet to test for any sensitivities.
- Parasite Infestations. Fleas and other parasites can set up home between your cat’s paws. Ensure that your cat’s preventative measures are up to date.
How Can I Prevent Dry Cat Paws?
If you can, prevent your cat’s paws from becoming dry and cracked in the first place. To achieve this:
- Moisturize your cat’s paws regularly. Once or twice a week should be sufficient.
- Monitoring your cat’s time outdoors, avoiding harsh weather conditions.
- Wash your cat’s paws regularly with warm water, especially if they roam outdoors.
- Keep your cat’s nailed trim. Scratching posts will do this, if they won’t let you clip them.
- Treat any paw-related injuries as soon as you notice them.
Remember how important your cat’s paws are to their general health, and keep them safe. Your cat relies on their paw pads for more than just walking. This means that you have a duty of care to protect them.
Healing cracked paw pads is a regular feature of life for most cat owners. While felines have very hardwearing paws, they do take a battering. Sooner or later, something will have to give.
Remember, a vet visit is always advisable if you’re worried about your cat’s paws. However, do follow our advice and apply some home remedies first. The only exception to this is when the area appears to be infected or bleeding. If the problem is not medical, your vet will offer the same advice. Taking preventative action can save you money, and your cat needless discomfort.