cat paws cracked and bleeding
Cat Health and Wellness

How to Heal Cracked Cat Paws

Cats spend a lot of time on their feet a lot, especially if they’re allowed outdoors. Cat’s feet can harden and dry over time. Dry and cracked paw pads aren’t only painful, they can also get infected.

The easiest way to keep your cat’s paws moisturized is by rubbing some Vaseline on them every day. Natural paw moisturizers that are safe for cats include, fish oil, olive oil, vitamin E oil, and coconut oil. You will have to clean and moisturize its paw every time it comes home.

Sometimes dryness isn’t an external issue, but an internal one. An all-natural, high-protein, low-carbohydrate, and grain-free diet with added omega-3 fatty acids is a long-term solution for cracked cat paws.

Remedies for Cracked Cat Paws

VaselineExternal moisturizerSafe to ingest
Olive OilNaturally moisturizes and soothesSafe to ingest
Coconut oilNatural moisturizer with antibacterial propertiesHigh in calories. Safe to ingest in small amounts
Fish oilNaturally moisturizesA highly beneficial supplement for cats
HydrationTreats dryness from the insideAdd more wet food
ProteinTargets protein deficiencyRaw food, no-grain diet
ZincImproves scaly skinRaw food diet and zinc supplements
Protective bootiesPrevents exposure to chemicalsFor outdoor walks
Indoors-onlyPrevents exposure to extreme temperatures and chemicalsHeals irritated paws

Think about what a cat’s paws go through every day. They’re constantly exposed to dirty surfaces, such as the litter box, and harsh chemicals, such as floor detergents.

If you have an outdoor cat, its paws are walking on rough, rocky and muddy surfaces, snow salt, sharp items, hot and cold surfaces, and more

Over time, walking naturally hardens, dries and wears out cat paws. Keep in mind that cat paws are supposed to be rough so that they have some traction on smooth surfaces.

According to the Oakland Veterinary Referral Services, cat paw pads act as shock absorbers so they need to be tough.

However, extreme weather conditions, dry air, and excessive licking can contribute to dry and cracked cat paws.

Cat paw pads have many nerve receptors that provide vital information about a cat’s surroundings. This makes their paws very sensitive and susceptible to pain when dried or cracked.

If the paws are cracked, there’s also a risk of infection. Treating dry and cracked cat paws is fairly easy and can usually be done using protective clothing, over-the-counter balms, and some home remedies.

Vaseline

People need external help to keep their skin soft and healthy, and cats are no different when it comes to their paw pads.

The Okaw Veterinary Clinic recommends applying Vaseline to a cat’s paw pads 2-3 times per week.

Cats lick their paws as part of their everyday grooming behavior. However, when you apply a balm or a salve, your cat is likely to lick its paws more because it senses something is there. Therefore, it is important to only use products that are safe for cats, even if they ingest them.

Never use a moisturizing product designed for humans, even if it is made with natural ingredients. Certain essential oils can be toxic to cats and may lead to complications when ingested.

Vaseline is safe when massaged into cat paw pads. Moreover, it’s rich enough to continue moisturizing your cat’s paws after continuous licking.

Vaseline is also safe to ingest in small doses and some experts claim that it may even help your cat pass hairballs.

Olive Oil

If you’re looking for something purer and more natural, olive oil is an excellent choice. Olive oil is rich in oleic acid, linolenic acid, linoleic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins A, D, E, and K, which make it a good moisturizer for cats’ feet.

Olive oil also heals cracked paws in cats by soothing them. A cat’s paws are irritated on a regular basis, especially during hot and cold weather conditions. Your cat is walking barefoot across hot pavements and sand or freezing winter roads, chemicals and salts. These make cracks even more painful.

To soothe your cat’s paws and improve cracks and dryness naturally, simply massage warm olive oil into your cat’s paw pads. If your cat has just come home from its outdoor excursion, clean its paws gently with a damp cloth before applying the olive oil.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is an excellent moisturizer for cracked paws in cats. It’s soothing and has natural antibacterial properties.

Cracked paws are susceptible to getting infected. Applying coconut oil on cracked paws every day can help reduce the risk of paw infections in cats.

Coconut oil is completely safe when ingested by cats. In fact, it may even aid your cat’s digestion, freshen its breath, and treat hairballs.

With coconut oil, a little goes a long way. Coconut oil absorbs into your cat’s skin very quickly. Avoid applying too much coconut oil into your cat’s paws as your cat will most likely lick most of it off. Ingesting too much coconut oil may lead to diarrhea and vomiting.

cat paws are dry and peeling

Fish Oil

Fish oil is one of the most commonly used supplements for cats. If your cat’s foot pads are dry or cracked, simply massage some fish oil into the pads after they have been cleaned.

Your cat will lick most of it off, making it an excellent way to introduce more fish oil into your cat’s diet.

Fish oil is the best source of omega-3 fatty acids for cats, which they cannot produce on their own. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, which helps reduce the risk of feline inflammatory conditions, such as heart disease and arthritis. Fish oil is also known to inhibit the growth of cancer cells, improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of dementia in older cats.

Many cats will resist handling the paws so you may have to make paw massages a pleasant experience for them. Have your cat’s favorite treat ready before handling its feet. Break the treat into smaller pieces and offer a tidbit during each step of the process. For example, you can offer your cat a reward after picking its first paw up and rubbing the top a little bit.

Proper Hydration

Good hydration is a crucial aspect of a cat’s health and wellbeing. It’s also essential in preventing dry and cracked paw pads.

A cat’s water requirement increases if it is on a dry food diet. Unfortunately, hydration in cats is often overlooked as it’s hard to get cats to drink water.

Try using a pet fountain instead of a regular bowl of water. Free-falling water from a fountain may entice a cat to drink more water.

If your cat refuses to increase its water intake, try replacing most of its dry food with wet food. Raw cat food or canned foods are rich in moisture and allow even the fussiest cats to hydrate themselves thoroughly.

You can also look for a skin and coat cat food formula that targets dryness. Cat food designed for healthier skin and coat are higher in moisture levels and have more omega-3 fatty acids in them.

Zinc

Oftentimes, cats experience cracked paws when their diet lacks zinc. According to the Journal of Nutrition, kittens that were fed a no-zinc diet had poorer coats, scaly skin, and slow hair growth.

Talk to your vet about adding zinc supplements to your cat’s diet. Your vet may recommend giving your cat a 2.5 to 5 mg zinc supplement every day for 2 weeks until its paws improve.

Alternatively, you can feed your cat a raw food diet. A raw food diet for cats consists primarily of raw meat and some added supplements. Red meat and poultry are excellent sources of zinc for cats. The greatest benefit of homemade raw food is that it closely resembles a cat’s natural diet.

However, not everybody is comfortable preparing and offering their cats raw meat. Raw food also comes with the risk of transferring Salmonella and E. coli to household items and kitchen surfaces. A great alternative is commercially prepared raw food, which is much easier to feed than home-prepared meats.

Commercial raw diets contain more organ meat and have no added grains in them so your cat will get more varied amino acids, as well as zinc, omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients required for healthy skin and paws.

cat paw pad problems

Protein

Protein is the building block for skin and hair. If your cat has very dry, cracked or bleeding pads, it could be because its protein levels are low.

Keep away from generic, low-quality foods as they’re packed with grains, unwanted carbohydrates, preservatives, and chemicals as fillers to keep their prices cheap. Protein is a more expensive nutrient. Therefore, cheap cat foods are rarely nutritionally balanced and contain very little protein. In fact, one of the biggest causes of unhealthy skin and coats in cats is an unbalanced, nutritionally poor dry food diet.

In some cases, cats may be getting enough protein from their diets, but their body isn’t digesting this protein optimally. This may be due to poor functioning of the liver or kidneys, or even early diabetes. Your vet may be able to improve the underlying cause, thereby reducing the appearance of symptoms, such as dryness of the paw pads.

Puppy Booties

Walking on hot and cold surfaces, chemicals and salt can severely dry your cat’s paws. The chemicals can be toxic for your pets and can enter the skin if there are any cracks present. Your cat may also lick some of these chemicals off its paws during its grooming routine.

Protect your cat’s paws with booties before it leaves for its outdoor walk. Booties or socks designed for puppies may fit an average-sized cat. If your cat leaves home without its booties on, clean its paws carefully with a warm, damp cloth as soon as it returns home.

Keep Your Cat Indoors

One of the most effective ways to improve cracked paws in cats is by keeping the cat indoors only. Not allowing your cat to wander outside will reduce further irritation to its paws and help it improve with the above treatments.

If your cat refuses to stay indoors, try installing a fence in your backyard so that it gets some outdoor time within a controlled environment.

Treating Bleeding And Cracked Paws

If your cat has open or bleeding cracks, take it to a vet. Your vet will prescribe a treatment similar to the ones used for minor cracks and cuts. He or she may also add a topical medication to prevent any potential infection.

In aging cats, cracked paws may be a symptom of possible kidney failure or liver dysfunction. This reduces the absorption of important nutrients in your cat’s diet, thus compromising the integrity of its skin and coat.

Chronic skin conditions need prescription medication. If your cat shows a negative reaction to any treatment, let your vet known immediately. Your cat may be sensitive or allergic to certain ingredients in the medication.