OUCH: Why Are Your Cat’s Paws Swollen?

It’s quite rare to see a swollen paw on a cat.  Because of that, if you find that your cat’s paw or paws are swollen, you’ll want to get her to the vet right away.

What causes this condition? It could be due to infection either from an overgrown claw that has grown into the paw pad or a bite or similar puncture wound.

Here’s what to look for and how to deal with your cat’s swollen paw.


There are times when the swelling will involve only one paw and, on that paw, only one toe. Watch to see if your cat is limping. If she is, see if her paw is warm to the touch which could indicate infection. If there’s a discharge from that paw, that is also in indicator of infection.  See if one of her toenails is overgrown and has grown into the pad.


Besides a bite or infection, an object may be near the toe and is causing swelling.  If you can safely remove this object from her foot and wash the wound, it’s a great idea to try this, then get her to the vet as soon as you can.

Another cause of swelling could be something called plasma cell pododermatitis which is when one of the pads becomes swollen and soft.  There is no treatment for this and it will eventually go away on its own.


If you find that your cat has an overgrown toenail or there’s a foreign object lodged, these are pretty simple to treat.  If, on the other hand, your cat is suffering from a broken bone in her foot, she may need to wear a splint in order for the bone to heal correctly.


If your veterinarian has bandaged an open wound or wants that open wound to stay unbandaged, you may need to change the type of kitty litter you’re using to prevent further infection.

How to Keep this From Happening

If you’ve found that the swollen paw is as a result of an overgrown toenail, you will need to trim her nails more regularly.  This happens most often when a cat has gotten older or they have a chronic disease that causes the claw shedding process to stop or buildup. If you see your cat limping, check her paws first and get her to the vet as soon as possible.

Photo Credit:  istockphoto.com

Has your cat ever had a swollen paw?


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