Dear Doctor: Pillow foot


Q. Two of my cat’s feet have become kind of puffy, or swollen, and it looks like he’s uncomfortable walking. I should probably take him to his veterinarian, but I am dreading it. My cat hates going to the clinic. How serious is this, and can I treat it at home?

Priscilla Loving
Brooklyn, New York

Dear Ms. Loving,

It sounds like the condition you’re describing is pillow foot, known medically as plasma cell pododermatitis. (“Pododermatitis” literally means “inflammation involving the skin on the foot.”) The cause is unknown, but immune cells are involved, suggesting overstimulation of the immune system.

Some cats are not bothered by the condition. Others limp and exhibit pain when the affected feet are examined. In severe cases, the deep tissue of the pad can become exposed and infected.

You should take your cat to the doctor. She will prescribe drugs that suppress the immune system. The cat will also need medical follow up. Sometimes, even a steroid is required.

The course of the disease differs from cat to cat. In some felines, it finally clears up, and that’s the end of it. In others, it’s an issue requiring lifelong medical therapy.


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