How to Treat a Wounded Cat Pad

By Jane Meggitt

How to treat a wounded cat pad depends on the nature of the injury. If it bleeds heavily or is a puncture wound, take your cat to the vet immediately. That's also true if the wound swells, or if your cat can't walk and appears in obvious pain. You probably can handle a minor paw scrape on your own, if your cat cooperates.

Minor Injuries

If your cat suffered a small scrape or cut, wash it with warm water a few times daily. Use an antiseptic salve or spray recommended for felines on the injury. You want to ensure bacteria doesn't enter the cut. Avoid hydrogen peroxide, as it can cause tissue damage. Keep your cat indoors, and clean his litter box after every use. If he shares the box with other cats, isolate him and give him his own box until the cut heals. You can try putting a little bootie on him to protect his foot, carefully taping it to his leg. However, he almost certainly won't like it and probably will spend the bulk of his time trying to get it off. If the wound hasn't healed within a week, take him to the vet.

Veterinary Care

Your vet will examine your cat's footpad to determine the nature of the wound. Most wounds are evident upon examination, but some require closer attention. A foreign object can embed itself in your cat's footpad, so your vet might have to sedate your cat to remove it. She'll clean out any wound with antiseptics and apply a bandage. She might prescribe antibiotics to combat potential infection. If an injury is severe, such as loss of part of the footpad, surgery might be required after initial treatment. That involves grafting part of another pad -- such as those tiny pads on the wrist -- onto the footpad.

Bandaging and Rebandaging

If your cat's paw is bandaged, you must change the bandage every few days. That's true for almost any foot injury, whether moderate or severe. Because cats sweat from the footpads, moisture will affect the bandage. Without regular bandage changing, this moisture can cause infection and slow the healing rate. If you don't feel capable of changing the bandage on your own, take your pet to the vet to have it done. Your vet can show you how to wrap and change the bandage and provide you with necessary materials. Certain antibacterial bandages are available that lessen changing frequency, but they cost considerably more than standard bandages.

Elizabethan Collar

Your vet likely will recommend putting an Elizabethan collar on your cat so he can't chew on the bandage. While dog owners refer to this collar as the "cone of shame" -- since their pleading eyes show their pets can't imagine what they did to deserve this -- with felines it's more the "cone of annoyance." If your cat must wear an Elizabethan collar while his injury heals, it's probably best to confine him to a certain area rather than allow him the run of the house. Otherwise, you might have a hard time catching him because he's so annoyed at having to wear the device on his head.