What is Paw Inflammation?
Presently, no predispositions for plasma cell pododermatitis have been identified in regards to breed, sex, or age. It is likely that this condition occurs on a seasonal basis, but this has not yet been proven.
Inflammation of the paws in cats – also known by its technical name, plasma cell pododermatitis (FPP) – is a condition which causes the pads of the paws to swell. This can affect one pad or multiple pads at a time. This condition is quite rare in cats, and little is known about what causes it. However, it has been shown to recur in many cases.
Symptoms of Paw Inflammation in Cats
While plasma cell pododermatitis is generally not life-threatening, you’ll want to ensure that you take your cat to the vet as soon as you notice any of the following symptoms in order to reduce their pain and prevent the condition from progressing.
- Signs of pain when walking
- Red, inflamed, and/or swollen skin around the paws
- Blisters or draining sores
- Excessive grooming of the paws
Causes of Paw Inflammation in Cats
Due to the rarity of the condition, not much is known about the causes of plasma cell pododermatitis. One suspected cause is a hyperactive immune system, particularly in the paw tissues. Presently, this is the most plausible cause. In one study, half of the cats that participated were also diagnosed with feline immunodeficiency virus, though there is not enough evidence to suggest causation. A single infectious cause has not been identified.
In a select few cases, FPP was symptomatic rather than a standalone condition. Additionally, FPP has been observed more frequently in the spring and summer; however, there is not enough evidence to show that this condition has a seasonal cause. Trauma, allergic reaction, and exposure to certain chemicals may be causes of FPP.
Diagnosis of Paw Inflammation in Cats
The vet will make a tentative diagnosis based on the appearance of the paws and presentation of symptoms. They will likely ask you about your cat’s medical history in addition to their indoor and outdoor activity. You should inform your vet if you suspect your cat has been exposed to any kinds of chemicals or experienced any recent trauma that may have caused FPP.
The vet will make a more definitive diagnosis through taking a biopsy of the paw tissue. A bacterial culture may also be taken. The bacterial culture will assist your vet in deciding which antibiotic is best to use for treatment in the event that a bacterial infection is present. If there is fluid or blood in the sores or blisters, your vet may use a microscope to examine it.
Treatment of Paw Inflammation in Cats
Treatment of the condition will depend on what the underlying cause is. If a bacterial infection or allergic reaction has been identified, antibiotics will usually be administered, typically for six to eight weeks. If the immune system is hyperactive, your vet will likely prescribe immunosuppressant drugs. If no cause can be identified, your vet may prescribe an antiseptic solution in which to soak your cat’s affected feet. This can promote healing of the tissue and soothe sore paws.
Though very rare, surgery may be required for extreme cases. These cases of FPP are usually caused by a foreign body or a more serious condition in which FPP is symptomatic.
In some cases, FPP has been shown to clear up on its own within two to three months. However, delaying or denying treatment based on this fact is unwise, as FPP may be caused by a number of different factors. This condition is often painful for the cat, and treatment will help to reduce pain as well as manage the underlying cause.
Recovery of Paw Inflammation in Cats
During the recovery period, don’t allow your cat into areas where they may cause trauma to the feet. This includes gardens or other outdoor areas that utilize pesticides or fertilizer. Ensure that all cleaning products are kept out of your cat’s reach.
It is important that you continue to administer any antibiotics prescribed to your cat for the entire recommended duration of treatment, even if the condition starts to improve. Failure to do so could result in aggressive recurrence. If your vet has prescribed an antiseptic soak, it is imperative that you use only this solution to soak their feet. Using different solutions made for animal or human use may cause burns on the pads of the paw and worsen the condition.
If sores or blisters are present, your vet will likely schedule a follow-up appointment in order to monitor them until they have healed. If the condition recurs, contact your vet immediately to seek treatment. Your vet will help you devise a treatment plan based on your cat’s specific needs.