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What is Footpad Injury?

An injury to the footpad may result in damage to the outer protective layer if it is punctured, cut or burnt. The most obvious symptoms are bleeding and lameness, and the cat may lick excessively at the affected paw. This denotes trauma to the footpad such that the pad is painful or doesn't respond normally when the cat places weight on it.

Cats are silent stealthy hunters, thanks in part to cushioned footpads which allow them to pad silently after prey. The footpad itself is made up of an inner cushion of fat that is richly served with blood vessels, covered with and protected by a tough outer layer of keratin.

Footpad Injury Average Cost

From 314 quotes ranging from $300 - $1,000

Average Cost

$500

Symptoms of Footpad Injury in Cats

Footpad injuries are often easy to detect because the cat is liable to limp or pay exaggerated attention to the damaged pad. Signs that indicate the cat may have a problem with a pad include: 

  • Holding a paw up
  • Limping on a particular leg
  • Licking excessively
  • Bleeding from the paw or leaving a trail of bloody paw prints
  • An unpleasant smell originating from the pad. This may occur if a bite becomes infected and abscessates
  • Fever (may occur if a bite to the pad becomes infected)
  • Grumpiness as a result of pain when the paw is touched.
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Causes of Footpad Injury in Cats

Footpad injuries are common and often the result of: 

  • Overgrown claws
  • Older cats that do not shed their claws effectively often develop ingrown claws which grow around and pierce the pad
  • Lacerations
  • Footpads can be cut on glass, metal, or stones.
  • Bite wounds
  • Cat fights can result in the paw used for 'boxing' being bitten by the antagonist.
  • Burns
  • Burns can affect a cat who jumps up onto a hot burner or other surface.
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Diagnosis of Footpad Injury in Cats

Oftentimes a footpad injury is diagnosed by simple observation of the affected area. The vigilant owner who sees their cat licking excessively at a foot should take this as a cue to inspect the paw for problems. 

Puncture wounds, by their nature, can be small but deep which can make identification difficult. However, a punctured pad is painful and suspicions should be raised if a usually docile cat resents the exam. With this in mind, an owner should always be cautious when examining a cat in pain, and take steps to gently restrain the cat in a towel or have a friend hold the pet. 

Impacted nails are evident as the claw hooking around and digging into the pad. This is often associated with bleeding and infection. 

Footpad burns are very painful and the cat will be extremely lame. The outer part of the pad often blisters and will eventually peel away, leaving the damaged fat pad exposed and open to infection.

If a pad is lacerated, it may be necessary to explore the cut to see if a glass shard or sharp object is still embedded deep within the pad. This is done by a vet, and may require sedation.

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Treatment of Footpad Injury in Cats

Treatment varies depending on the nature of the injury.

Overgrown Claws

The claws must be clipped and the impacted part of the nail gently extracted from the pad. This is painful and sedation may be necessary. The damaged pads are bathed with a weak solution of disinfectant such as chlorhexidine. If the wounds bleed, a light dressing may be required for 24 hours. A course of antibiotics is advisable in the majority of cases

Lacerations

Lacerations should first be cleaned with a weak solution of chlorhexidine or salt water. Fresh lacerations should be sutured to encourage the pad to seal over in around 10 - 14 days. The cat then has the paw dressed and needs to wear a buster collar or e-collar to prevent interference with the healing wound.

However, old lacerations rarely heal when treated surgically and may need to be left to scar over. This can take several weeks.

Puncture Wounds

Fight wounds are prone to infection, resulting in painful abscessation of the footpad. It may help to poultice the area in order to release any purulent discharge. A course of antibiotics is needed, by mouth or injection.  

Burns

Immediate first aid treatment is to hold the pad under cool running water for 10 - 20 minutes. The subsequent burn may need antibiotics to prevent secondary infections, and the cat require pain relieving medications. The pads often slough, leaving the tender inner fat pad exposed. The paws may need dressing regularly to promote healing. 

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Recovery of Footpad Injury in Cats

Happily, most cats with a footpad injury go on to make a full recovery from what is undoubtedly a painful and unpleasant condition. Depending on the nature of the injury it can take between 10 days to three or four weeks for the pet to recover, during which time it may have mobility issues. 

Another factor to consider is litter tray use, since it is undesirable for cat litter to contaminate an open wound or burn. To this effect, dressing may be required to protect the feet, or shredded paper substituted for the typical litter. 

Simple preventative methods such as biweekly toenail clipping or the use of a burner cover can eliminate the risk of recurrence in these cases. 

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Footpad Injury Average Cost

From 314 quotes ranging from $300 - $1,000

Average Cost

$500

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Footpad Injury Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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scottish fold

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Five Weeks

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Paw Swelling

I have a kitten that is 5 weeks and 3 days old. Yesterday, 11-10-2020, i found out that his paw is abnormal and it looks like a paw infection. I started cleaning it but it wont be cleaned. Then i sanitized it and cover it. Then i started cleaning it again and sanitize it and there is a piece that looks like dirt and pieces of litter box and hard abscess that came off while i was cleaning and then i sanitized it and cover it. So i would like to know how to deal with it and what it is. I think he’s not in pain since he can walk on it and he’s not bothered alot when i touch it.

Oct. 12, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Hello- Thank you for your question. That does look like an infection of some type. It could be bacterial or a fungal infection going on. I would recommend taking him to your veterinarian so they can assess the paw, perform a skin cytology, and provide appropriate treatment for the lesion. He is likely going to need oral antibiotics for the foot. I would not keep it wrapped at this time as if the bandage is placed just slightly too tight you can cause damage and loss of blood flow to the foot. I hope he feels better soon!

Oct. 12, 2020

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Cat, DMH

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abt 7

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Bleeding Leg Wound

A tame neighborhood cat, who I have been caring for for four years, showed up at my house today with a bad limp, what looks like the bite of a small animal on his front leg, and the paw on that leg is swollen to twice its normal size. I let him inside, and he slept all day and a good part of the night in my spare room. When he got up, he was lethargic, still limping, and leaving pools of blood from the wound on my floor (and then licked the blood off the floor). He usually only comes here to eat. I have three indoor cats of my own. What should I do for him? He’s friendly.

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay in answering, these emails are not set up for urgent messages. I hope that you were able to get veterinary care for him. If he is still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment if needed.

Oct. 14, 2020

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Siamese

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Seven Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Licking Penis/Limping In Left Hind Leg

Noticed this morning cat has a slight limp ... also has been licking penis. Had a UTI a couple of years ago and is on prescription food. Checked litter box and he has urinated ... hisses if we touch paw.

Sept. 24, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that your pet is okay. If they are still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment that might be needed.

Oct. 24, 2020

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American shorthair cat

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1.5 Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

None

Tito has a slice on the toe pad of his back foot. It has been cleaned and bandaged but will still occasionally bleed because of walking on it. It is not affecting him and he doesn't even seem to be aware of it. Should we take him in to get it looked at, or just keep cleaning and bandaging it?

Sept. 13, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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Hello, If the cut is small you can continue to treat it at home as long as he is not bothering it. If he starts to bother this spot or it looks infected, it would be best for your vet to look at it. I hope your cat starts to feel much better soon.

Sept. 13, 2020

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Short haired cat

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Eleven Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

None

Not sure if this is a scab that has healed. It's hard, dry, and a little rough to touch also slightly raised off pad of foot. She walks with a slight limb on that paw so she my have some discomfort. No bleeding.

Aug. 5, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. From your picture, that appears to be a cutaneous horn on her paw, and while those can be a little uncomfortable, they rarely need treatment, unless they grow larger. Sometimes they do require surgical removal, and there are some ointments that might help. It would be a good idea to have her seen at some point by your veterinarian to examine it and see if treatment would help. I hope that all goes well for her.

Aug. 5, 2020

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lilly

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tabby

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4 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Limping
Licking Paw
Separated Paw Pads

hi i have a stray tabby cat that lives in the garden of my home with a litter of three kittens. she is limping and her central paw pad on the hind leg is separated from the front ones which is not normal. there might be an overgrown nail and there is a lockdown here due to the corona virus pandemic. it seems difficult to take her to the vet. what should i do ?

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ash

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stray

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2 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Limping

I took my cat to the vet for an infection and now they are telling me they need to cut his leg off. told me his front paw was dead. But he still bats and his claws come out

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Romeo

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mixed

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1 Year

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Limping
Infection
Inflamation
Licking And Biting Paw

My cat started obsessively licking and biting his front right paw, which led to an infection and a long period of recovery. He's now started doing this with his back left paw, causing punctures and inflammation. He is an indoor cat, with nothing that could initially injure him. If it's allergies and the paws are itching, I can only think of his litter as the cause. Right now, however, I have no clue why he's doing this.

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Rabbitoh

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domestic short hair

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5 Months

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Bleeding Peeling Licking

My cat was out in the garden with us and when we came back in he had bleeding back pads. Do you think he is allergic to anything? We didn't know what to do so we put some natural moisturiser on and it looked like he was in pain. After playing his pads seemed to be bleeding more. What should I do?

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Grey grey

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Mixed breed ocicat

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6 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Has Difficulty Walking On That Paw

My female cat was giving out the mating call, leading to many male suitors hovering around our house. That made my very territorial male cat very u happy. He had fought with 4-5 male cats within a span of 2 days. One of them bit his paws n there r 2 deep puncture wounds. I washed it with betadine n wrapped it in medical tape. Overnight, one of them has started producing pus, d other puncture wound is dry n okay (but the hole still exists). I’m thinking antibiotics next.

Footpad Injury Average Cost

From 314 quotes ranging from $300 - $1,000

Average Cost

$500

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