Despite their tendency to indulge in a relaxing nap (or five) every day, our feline friends are on their feet an enormous amount, especially if they're allowed to wander outdoors. Like people, the bottoms of a cat's feet can become hardened, worn, or dried out over time. This can be attributed to a number of causes, from environmental factors to injuries to their overall physical health. Treating your cat's dry paw pads is usually fairly easily done, however, especially when you can identify the underlying cause of dryness.
Facts about cat paws
We know that cats use their feet for standing, walking, running, and pouncing, and it takes a set of healthy paws in order to allow any and all of those things to take place. Oakland Veterinary Referral Services states that the pads on the bottoms of your cat's feet work to absorb traction and shock encountered during movement on the ground.
Each paw pad is comprised of skin and bones, ligaments, and tendons, which offer protection to the ligaments, tendons and bones inside of the legs anytime your cat jumps, runs, climbs, or even walks. Kitten paw pads, often referred to as cat toe beans, start out very soft and delicate, getting rougher over time through normal wear and tear.
Cat paw moisturizer
Sometimes, people need a little extra help to keep their skin soft, supple, and healthy, and our pets are no different. In the same way that balm or lotion works to hydrate and lock in moisture on our own skin, topical creams can help soften dry pads on your cat's feet. The Okaw Veterinary Clinic recommends gently rubbing Vaseline into your cat's paw pads two to three times a week. You can also try applying a small amount of olive oil onto your cat's paw pads as an all-natural alternative to petroleum jelly.
When reaching for creams and treatments, however, it's important to stay away from anything that may lead to irritation or toxicity to your cat, including cortisone cream and tea tree oil. For more severe dryness, you may want to consult your veterinarian about a possible dietary deficiency.
Heavily cracked and bleeding paws are not normal for cats, and may be symptomatic of low protein or fatty acid levels in your cat. If your cat is old or aging, cracked paws can indicate a possible liver or kidney dysfunction, which prevents the proper absorption of certain nutrients found in your cat's food.
Finally, always make sure your cat and his body is properly hydrated by making fresh, clean water available at all times.
Addressing injured feet
If you notice that your feline friend has an injury on her foot or paw pads, it is recommended that you address the problem immediately to prevent possible further injury to your cat. An injury may present itself as a small scratch or sore, or it may look as serious as a cat paw pad peeling off. Either way, VCA Hospitals suggests cleaning the wound with water and antibacterial soap right away, keeping an eye out for anything that may be lodged into your cat's paw, like a thorn or a wood splinter.
If your cat is bleeding, apply pressure to the wound using a clean towel and take your cat to the doctor if the bleeding continues after about 15 minutes. If you can get the bleeding to stop, you can wrap your cat's foot in gauze, taking care to cover the toes and wrapping all the way up over the ankle to ensure that it stays put. Change the bandage every day and make a note of any sign of infection, like a foul odor or white discharge, which should be addressed by a veterinarian if spotted.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.