Swollen and Cracked Pads on a Cat

The pads are sensitive to touch and vibration, which is why most cats pull their paws back when you touch them.
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Cats use their paw pads to experience the world, test the temperature of objects and sense whether predators are near. While they have several possible causes, paw pad problems are generally minor and treatable at home or with the help of your veterinarian.


When one or more pads are swollen, red in color, rough to the touch, cracked or crusty, she has a foot pad problem. If there's a bacterial infection accompanying the problem, her feet may smell bad. It can be difficult to examine her foot pads since many cats do not like their feet touched. If your cat is limping, there's a good chance something's going on with her pads.

Paw Pad Cuts

Kitty's paws are made for walking and exploring the world, but sometimes kitty encounters objects that are too sharp. Broken glass and rocks, for example, can damage kitty's foot pads. Damaged paw pads could trap foreign matter as kitty walks around, worsening the injury. Treat minor cracks at home by cleansing the foot pad with soap and water, drying it and applying a couple drops of instant glue or other adhesive, which seals the cut from foreign matter. Keep kitty from licking the paw pad until the glue dries.

Diet Deficiency

Cat paw pads can become cracked and swollen from diets deficient in minerals zinc and selenium. Zinc boosts skin strength and healing; selenium ups kitty's immunity. Supplement your cat's diet by giving her 2.5 to 5 milligrams zinc and 50 micrograms of selenium every day for two weeks. Moisturize the swollen paw pads using a natural oil, such as olive oil.


Cats can experience food allergies too. Some cases of paw pad swelling indicate a food allergy or an allergic reaction to something with which kitty has recently come into contact. Redness and swelling together may indicate an allergic reaction. Your vet can help you determine the source of the allergen, so you can eliminate it from her environment.

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.

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