You may rarely see the pads of your cat's paws, but that doesn't mean they don't need care from time to time. Cats naturally have hardy pads on their paws, so most of the time the pads do just fine on their own. But if you happen to notice cracked paw pads, you may need to step in and offer your cat some care.
What to Do for Dry Pads on a Cat's Feet
How paw issues occur
There are many different causes behind cat foot pad problems. Cat paws are sensitive, and according to WebMD, freezing patios, hot sidewalks, or other irritating surfaces can damage your cat's paw pads. You may notice any number of problems, like the cat paw pad peeling or the pad cracking.
Teaching tolerance of paw handling
In order to help your cat's paws heal, you'll need to overcome a challenge first: Getting your cat to let you handle her paws. It's best to start handling your cat's paws when she's a kitten, so she's used to the routine as she grows into an adult. But even if you haven't been handling your cat's paws all her life, you can still teach her to accept having her paws touched.
To teach your cat to tolerate you handling her paws, start by just touching the top of her paws while she's relaxed. Reward her with her favorite treat. Then, gradually increase the length of time that you touch her paws, again rewarding her with a treat. Start to work your way to touching your cat's paw pads, praising her for tolerating this with a treat. Soon, your cat will be comfortable with you handling her paws so you can treat her injuries.
Treatments for dry cat paws
There are a number of treatments that you can put on dry cat paws, but it's important to remember that cats are natural groomers. Anything you put on your cat's paws will quickly end up in her mouth, so only use products that are safe if ingested.
Okaw Veterinary Clinic recommends that you use Vaseline since it's very tolerant to your cat's licking. Thoroughly massage the Vaseline into your cat's paws two to three times each week.
Fish oil or flax seed supplements can help to restore the moisture in your cat's paws, but be sure to consult with your vet to get the right dose for your cat.
What not to use
There are a few items that you should never use on your cat's paws. Avoid cortisone cream, tea tree oil, and herbal products according to Okaw Veterinary Clinic. These products are not safe for your cat to ingest and may do more harm than good.
Handling heavily cracked paw pads
If your cats' paw pads are significantly dry and cracked, then you should schedule an appointment with your vet. According to the Okaw Veterinary Clinic, significantly dry paws aren't normal and may indicate health issues, like early diabetes or digestion issues.
Additional paw care
While caring for dry cat paws is important, don't forget that you should also monitor your cat's claws and trim them when necessary. If left to grow too long, your cat's claws can push up into the pads of his feet, causing pain and even infection. If the claws have pushed into your cat's paw pads, then you'll need to take him to a vet for treatment.
If you've never trimmed your cat's claws before, then have your vet show you how to do this safely. It's always best to be conservative and take off just a bit of claw at a time since taking off too much can cause your cat to bleed and can be painful. Just like handling your cat's paws, it's best to introduce your cat to having his claws trimmed when he's young, so he gets used to the process.