Paw Issues in Kittens

by Betty Lewis, Demand Media
    "It smells like I stepped in something."

    "It smells like I stepped in something."

    Kitten's paws do more than get her where she needs to go; she uses them for grooming, playing and hunting. Her paw pads help her cool down and they serve to mark territory. Some paw issues are mere genetic curiosities; some others are treatable conditions that don't hamper her lifestyle too long.

    Paw Injuries

    It's not unusual for a kitten's paws to pay the price for a little bit of carelessness. Sprains aren't all that common for cats, however, if you suspect kitten may have landed funny or twisted her paw when she jumped, keep an eye open for signs such as limping, reluctance to use her paw or swelling. Those symptoms don't always mean she's pulled something; kitten could have a puncture wound, bite or an ingrown toenail that's infected. If you examine her paw and find she's got something stuck in it, such as a thorn or tack, remove it if you can, clean it and take her to the vet.

    Eosinophilic Granuloma

    Eosinophilic granuloma can affect a paw as well as the lower lip, chin, or back of kitten's thigh. Eosinophils are white blood cells that often work to attack parasites by focusing on the infection site and releasing biochemicals to destroy them. Sometimes eosinophils respond to something harmless -- like dust -- as though it was a harmful presence and go about their destructive business. The biochemicals are released unnecessarily and kitten ends up with itching, redness, swelling and other allergy symptoms. Though any cat can come down with this condition, adolescent kittens tend to experience it more than adult cats. There's a lot to learn about this condition, but it's usually simple to treat, often with steroids.

    Plasma Cell Pododermatitis

    Plasma cell pododermatitis, also called pillow foot, is an inflammation in the paw that's not very well understood in the medical community. The cat who develops this condition has a mushy-looking paw pad, sometimes with a purplish tint. More than one foot tends to be affected and usually it's not painful. Occasionally ulcers or sores can develop, which have to be surgically removed. Kittens and cats of all genders and breeds can be affected. Research indicates the condition is related to the immune system, so treatment involves medication to suppress the immune reaction.

    Polydactylism: Extra Toes

    If yours is like most cats, she has four toes and a dewclaw -- which is like a thumb-toe -- on each of her front paws and four toes on her back paws. If she has extra toes on any of her feet, she's polydactyl. Polydactylism isn't all that unusual for cats and is genetic. This condition doesn't hurt kitten or cause problems. In fact, it just makes her extra cute, looking like she's ready to play a game of catch.

    Syndactyly: Fused Toes

    Some cats have syndactyly, a condition whereby two or more toes are fused together. The degree of fusion can vary from simple -- toes being connected by skin -- to complicated -- tissues, claws and bones fused together to connect the toes. If kitten's toes don't separate when she's still an embryo, she's born with the condition. It's rare for cats with syndactyly to have problems, but it's important to keep their nails clipped. If your kitten has fused toes, she should be able to run and climb just fine. You may have to pay extra attention to her paws to ensure she doesn't get debris stuck between her toes.

    Healthy Paws

    Kittens, and adult cats, are vulnerable to myriad paw issues; after all, their little feet do a lot of work. Her nails or nail beds can become infected or inflamed for a variety of reasons. She may walk on or through something that cuts or irritates her pads. Perhaps she's feeling the sting of a bee she trapped. The point is that keeping an eye on kitten's paws is wise. Check them to make sure nothing is trapped between her toes and ensure they're not swollen, irritated or cut. Trim her nails regularly and watch her behavior. If she's limping or obsessively cleaning a paw, it's time to call the vet.

    About the Author

    Betty Lewis has been writing professionally since 2000, specializing in animal care and issues, business analysis and homeland security. Lewis holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from West Virginia University as well as master’s degrees from Old Dominion University and Tulane University.

    Photo Credits

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