Footpad Injury in Cats

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Footpad Injury in Cats - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Footpad Injury in Cats - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What is Footpad Injury?

An injury to the footpad may result in damage to the outer protective layer if it is punctured, grazed, 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.

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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 an injury or bite to the pad becomes infected).
  • Grumpiness as a result of pain when the paw is touched or walked on.
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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
  • Laceration; 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.
  • Burn; 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 can be seen. 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.  Cat bites should be left open and not sutured as this could trap infection.

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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Worried about the cost of Footpad Injury treatment?

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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 fornightly 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

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Short hair domestic

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Eleven Years

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0 found helpful

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Has Symptoms

Carpal Pad Callus?

My cat gets his nails cut regularly as requested by the vet after he had an ingrown nail. I just notice on his carpal pad there is a little part not sure what it is... But he keeps trying to bite at it and lick it. Could this be something serious or can his groomer take care of it?

July 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. If he is bothering with it, biting it and licking at it, it may be something that is bothering him. If he is due to have his nails trimmed now, your groomer can certainly take a look at it and see if they think it is something that your veterinarian needs to see. If it is a little wound or an insect bite, it may get better over a day or two, and you be may be able to monitor it closely. If it is growing, or changing, or he won't leave it alone, then it would probably be best to have your veterinarian take a look. I hope that all goes well for him!

July 27, 2020

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Tabby

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2 years

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0 found helpful

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Has Symptoms

Limping, Discomfort, And Lickimg

cat has blueish/red spots on the bottom of his foot that he is limping on. I think there may be a slight odor but I can't tell. He is constantly licking it. I have no idea what he did. He started limping yesterday I believe. He's an indoor cat so I have no idea what he could've gotten into. It looks bruised but I have no idea. Its also a little warm.

July 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello, It sounds like your cat may have a small abscess. Your vet can lance this area and flush out any pus. Many times these cats may need antibiotics to heal. A warm compress may also help this access open up. If your cat does not start to feel better in a few days, it would be best for your vet to look at him. Good Luck.

July 26, 2020

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Footpad Injury Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$500

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