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What are Pododermatitis?

It is though that an underlying infection may cause this incorrect inflammatory response to occur. All ages and breeds of cats can be affected by this condition. Both males and females are susceptible to pododermatitis. If you suspect your cat has pillow foot, bring it to a veterinarian for treatment as soon as possible. If this problem is left untreated, secondary infections may develop. The issue can be very painful in advanced cases, leaving the cat with puffed-up paws that are tender to touch. The cat may eventually be rendered lame if the paws become too damaged. Pododermatitis is often paired with renal amyloidosis (a kidney disease) or plasma cell stomatitis (a disease of the mouth).

Feline plasma cell pododermatitis, often called “pillow foot”, is a condition in which severe inflammation develops on the foot pads of a cat. While all four pads may be affected at once, it is rare for only one paw to be inflamed. Plasma cells are fully matured lymphocytes (white blood cells) that are produced by the immune system in the body. Pododermatitis occurs when the immune system is mistakenly triggered and it overproduces lymphocytes that then pool in the cat's foot pads. Antibodies then attack healthy paws and cause swelling and pain to develop. 

Pododermatitis Average Cost

From 499 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$300

Symptoms of Pododermatitis in Cats

In very mild cases, the cat may not be experiencing any discomfort. Symptoms of pillow foot may manifest alongside symptoms related to mouth sores or kidney problems. Signs to watch for include:

  • A “mushy”, swollen foot pad
  • Bruising or purplish coloring on the foot pad
  • Ulcerations on the foot pad
  • Lameness 
  • Splitting of the foot pad
  • Tenderness when touched
  • Lethargy
  • Anorexia 
  • Excessive licking of the paws
  • Bleeding from the paws
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Causes of Pododermatitis in Cats

The exact reason that a cat may develop pododermatitis is largely unknown. While there is reason to believe that a malfunctioning immune system plays a part in the condition, more research is needed to confirm the exact cause of the reaction. All known causes are listed below.

  • Immune disorders
  • Reaction to certain litter materials
  • Feline Immunodeficiency virus (over 50 percent of cats with pillow foot are FIV positive)
  • Feline leukemia virus (FeLV)
  • Calicivirus 
  • Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) 
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Diagnosis of Pododermatitis in Cats

Make an appointment with your veterinarian to have the cat's feet professionally assessed. Be sure to provide the vet with the cat's full medical history to assist with diagnosis and provide possible reasons for the development of pododermatitis. The veterinarian will then perform a complete physical examination of the cat. Pillow foot can often be confirmed by visual observation from a trained animal health care provider. 

Full blood work will need to be run including a complete blood count to check for anemia, and a biochemical profile to assess all levels of substances in the blood. In cases of pododermatitis, both the number of lymphocytes and the levels of globulin antibodies will be increased. The veterinarian will have to differentiate pillow foot from other issues that involve the foot pads, such as insect bites and cancerous or benign tumors. For a total confirmation of pododermatitis, a biopsy of the inflamed foot pad will need to be taken and histopathologically examined to establish if increased plasma cells are present. Viruses such as FIV and FeLV should be tested for.

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Treatment of Pododermatitis in Cats

If the case of pododermatitis in the cat is very mild, less aggressive treatments may be sought first. There has been success in treating immune system reactions which may be causing the footpad inflammation. If any secondary health issues have developed, they may also need further treatment.

Antibiotics 

Oral administration of certain antibiotics has been found to be effective in treating some cats suffering from pododermatitis. Doxycycline and cyclosporine have properties that seem to regulate the immune system. Approximately half of cats with pillow foot will experience improvement when going through a vigorous, several-month prescription of antibiotics. 

Steroids 

A prescription of steroids may be useful in treating underlying immune disorders. Oral administration of prednisone or glucocorticoid on a daily basis can be effective. Injections of methylprednisolone acetate can be a longer-lasting alternative.

Surgical Removal 

In advanced cases of pododermatitis where ulcerations have formed, surgical removal of the ulcerations may be necessary. General anesthesia is required for this procedure.

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Recovery of Pododermatitis in Cats

If your cat has undergone surgery, you will need to follow all at-home care instructions provided by the surgeon. Special attention may be needed to keep the affected feet clean throughout the healing process. Activity may need to be limited during this time. Monitor the incision daily to ensure no signs of infection have developed. Regardless of whether surgery has been performed, keep your cat's litter box extremely clean. You may need to switch the type of litter you have been using to a more natural alternative. 

Administer all medications as prescribed. Regular follow-up appointments will be needed to assess if the condition is healing, and to possibly adjust dosages if adverse side effects to medications have begun to manifest. Giving anti-inflammatory supplements can also help your cat by strengthening its immune system. Topical treatments such as moisturizer application and the soaking of cracked paws can help to soothe soreness while the underlying problem is addressed. Spontaneous recovery of pillow foot is possible in some instances. The issue is usually manageable and affected cats may go on to live a normal life. If the cat has been diagnosed with a feline virus, the prognosis may worsen. 

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Pododermatitis Average Cost

From 499 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$300

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Pododermatitis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

Storme

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Cat

dog-age-icon

6 Years

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

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Joints

Good morning, My cat was diagnosed with plasmas cells in January 2017. I give my cat atopica 2-3 x a week. How long can my cat live with this condition? At my age do cats or dogs first experience plasma cell podo dermatitis? Thank you

Aug. 10, 2018

Storme's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Plasma Cell pododermatitis can occur in young adult cats, and each cat is individual as far as prognosis. Since I can't see how severely Storme is affected, it is difficult to say how he may respond to therapy, but if he responds well, he may live a normal life. You will need to keep his litter box and eating area very clean to help him recover.

Aug. 10, 2018

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Sammy

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Domestic shorthair

dog-age-icon

7 Years

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

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting
Slight Loss Of Appetite

What causes my cat vomit so much? He usually vomits once or twice monthly, since last month he's been doing it every week. He has Plasma Cell Pododermatitis, and was on steroids for 6+ months (May 2017 to early December 2017) . He has not been on any oral medicine for 6-7 months. He pees 3-4 times daily, poops 1-2 times a day, plays normally, sleeps normally. One thing I am worried about is his slight appetite loss, he went from eating 1 cup of dry food a day to as less as half a cup. He does continue to eat half a can of wet food a day.

July 4, 2018

Sammy's Owner

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0 Recommendations

Vomiting isn’t associated with plasma cell pododermatitis and there should be no side effects of the prednisone after being weaned off; there are many causes for vomiting with the majority of conditions affecting cats listing vomiting as a symptom. Without examining Sammy I cannot start to determine the cause of the vomiting and loss of appetite, you should visit your Veterinarian as there may be another condition causing these symptoms. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 5, 2018

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Aztec

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Shorthair

dog-age-icon

5 Years

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

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Discomfort
Swollen Nose
Agitation
Swollen Pads
Skin Deterioration

Cats paws and nose have become inflamed to the point that the foot pads appear to be rotting out and leaving the cat very uncomfortable. Nose is swollen to the extent of an extra three inches of flesh. He is still able to smell things and walk but seems unhappy doing so. Is the best course of action putting him down or is there a treatment for him?

June 30, 2018

Aztec's Owner

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0 Recommendations

Without examining Aztec I cannot determine the specific cause of the symptoms or be comfortable in making a recommendation like euthanasia; you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination to determine the specific underlying cause and what treatment options are available. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 1, 2018

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Nazuri

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Mix

dog-age-icon

2 Years

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

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Toe,

My cat, 2 1/2 years of age has a puffy toe. The pad is normal, but the area above is swollen. It doesn’t seem to hurt her, the only response to me poking and prodding is to start grooming my hand. She doesn’t pull her paw away. I keep her claws trimmed and her litter box clean. She isn’t exhibiting any odd behavior, but I did just notice the toe last night. I’m reluctant to take her to a vet because developed similar issues but more extreme. Swollen foot, nose, lump around her abdomen. I used the prescribed antibiotics and ointments and she died of a seizure two days later.

June 21, 2018

Nazuri's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

There are a few possible causes for a puffy toe which may include trauma, infection, inflammation, cancer among other causes; without examining the toe and Nazuri in general I couldn’t say what the specific cause is. You should keep an eye on the toe for now, but if there is no improvement you should visit your Veterinarian regardless of your past experience and feeling. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 22, 2018

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Rufus

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Maine Coon

dog-age-icon

1 Year

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

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Rear Paw Pad (Largest Pad)

Hello. I have a one year old Maine Coon who has developed a swollen paw pad on one rear paw. Since it is only on one paw, his vet has prescribed Derma-Vet ointment to see if it responds before treating it for Pododermatitis. Can you tell me what the most effective treatment would be if indeed it is Pododermatitis? Do most vets recommend doxycycline before steroids?

May 17, 2018

Rufus' Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Treatment is typically dependent on a variety of factors, doxycycline takes longer to to see improvement than with steroids but any treatment plan would be based on whether or not infection is present and the overall severity of the condition. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

May 18, 2018

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Shadow

dog-breed-icon

Not sure

dog-age-icon

6 Years

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

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
Loss Of Appitite
Tender Paw
Swollen Paw Pad
Bleeding Paw Pad
Refusal To Put Paw Down

Hi, i have a cat (shadow) that’s paw has been really hard and swollen and hes been limping and holding it up all the time. It’s only the one paw tho. I recently noticed its been bleeding and he licks it a lot. I’m worried about him. He hasn’t been eating much and he wont let me look at his paw. I’m really scared it’s something bad, and I’m not sure I’d have the money to take care of him. He’s a stray so i have no idea how old he is or what breed. My family moved to a new house a few years ago and we have wood floors now. I was wondering if that might of affected it some how? This has never happened before and I’m really worried..

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Comet

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Chertue

dog-age-icon

1 Year

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

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Paw

We got our kitten (comet) just turned a year about a week ago. The first few weeks I noticed is was very stinky going to the bathroom and got ahold of the vet. They put him on meds and he seemed to be doing better. About a month later I noticed he was holding up his right paw. I took a look at it and it was very swollen. Off to vets again, the said they thought he was bit by something and put him on antibiotics. Right paw was doing much better after that. About 2-3 weeks later I now noticed he was holding up his left paw. Sure enough now that one was swollen. Back to the vet we go.Another round of antibiotics. He is a indoor kitty. He just finished the meds a few days ago and His one toe is still swollen on his right paw. Any idea what this could be? Im going to be contacting the vet again tomorrow. I feel so bad for our little guy...

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Vivian

dog-breed-icon

Maine Coon mix

dog-age-icon

10 Months

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

Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Limping
Inflamation
Sore Foot
Lip Sore

My 10 mo. old kitty Vivian has a tentative Plasma Cell Pododermititis diagnosis per the Angell Veterinary Hospital. She’s been on doxycycline for the past 3 or so months as well as a steroid which we have started to taper per the dermatologists request, but as of recent she has become walking particularly in favor of her front right paw and have noticed that she has a small sore on her bottom lip. Her toe pads don’t look nearly as bad as when we first started treatment but she licks and bites at her scarred feet so incessantly she opens up the skin again. Regardless they still really don’t look all that bad, just slightly inflamed, no splits, cracks, or flaking/bleeding like it was in the beginning. Just concerned because of the new gentleness with the right front foot and the small sore on her bottom lip.

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Stewie

dog-breed-icon

Mutt

dog-age-icon

14 Years

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

Critical severity

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0 found helpful

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

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Split Paw Pads

Our cat had this. His paw pads on all of his feet just started swelling one day. Thought maybe he was having an allergic reaction to his litter, so we changed it a few times. He never liked anything but his original litter though. He wasn't the cuddliest of cats, so we didn't really notice that it had gotten bad until he started leaving blood marks all over the house b/c some of his pads had split open. Medications were tried but didn't do anything. Eventually had to get surgery on his feet which did help him thankfully. He still had some sensitivity problems though so still messed on the floor instead of his litter box sometimes. I think it started when he was about 8? years old and he recently died at 14yo from heart failure.

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Buddy

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domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

5 Years

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

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Front Paw, Cracked And Red
Swollen Front Paw, Cracked And Red E

I have a cat who I took to emergency vet for a swollen paw they cleaned and gave him several shots of antibiotics they wanted to do further testing for ringworm but after a 200 vet bill I declined now three days later buddy's paw is not looking better and since I have researched ringworm and foot rot I'm starting to think it might be the later his paw is cracked and swollen he is grooming and biting excessively not on hi front paw but elsewhere maybe hes in pain? I could upload a pic if possible any insite would be nice I cant afford another 200 vet bill but cant stand seeing my fur baby in pain

Pododermatitis Average Cost

From 499 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$300

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