When your cat is injured, your first instinct is to grab him and rush to the veterinarian's office. This is not always the best first move. If you suspect your cat has a broken toe and you don't pause to treat it first, the time you spend in the waiting room could see a simple hairline fracture develop into something much more complicated. As your discontented feline friend paces anxiously in his crate, the sharp edges from the fracture site could be working their way through muscles, tendons, nerves and eventually skin. To avoid this unhappy outcome, read the steps below to guide you in the treatment of a broken cat toe, beginning with the splinting the toe prior to departing for the vet.
Call the vet's office and let them know what happened and that you are on your way.
Splint the cat's toe before leaving for the vet. This will prevent further aggravation to the injury while you are waiting to be seen. Begin by rolling gauze around the entire paw, extending halfway up the leg. Roll the gauze in a figure-8 pattern, circling the paw in one loop, the "ankle" in another.
Apply several layers of gauze, pulling it tight in order to keep the toes together, but not so tight you cut off circulation to the limb. Secure with tape.
Place the cat in a carrier and take to the vet for X-rays and confirmation of the broken toe diagnosis. The vet will cast or re-splint the paw.
Confine the cat to the indoors while the paw heals.
Check the paw daily to make sure the cast or splint is clean and dry. If the appliance becomes wet or dirty, it will need to be changed. Examine the skin around and under the device for signs of rubbing or irritation.
Fit your cat for an Elizabethan collar if she fusses with the appliance and tries to remove it. An Elizabethan collar is a funnel-shaped protective device that fits around the cat's neck, creating a barrier that protects the cat from self-injury. The most effective collars extend just past the end of the cat's nose.
Check the cat's toes every day to make sure they are warm. Compare the injured toes to the uninjured ones. If the injured area is colder, it could mean blood circulation is not reaching the extremities.
Use a litter box with low sides until the cat recovers from the injury. It may not maneuver well while wearing an appliance. Switch to old style clay litter, as clumping litter tends to cling to toes. Change the litter three times a day to help keep the appliance from becoming soiled.