You know to keep your cat’s nails trimmed because otherwise they could curve into the paw pad and cause both pain and infection. But were you aware that the paws need regular care for your cat’s good health, too? Here are the five steps to take so that the steps she takes are healthy and irritation-free.
1. Gently wipe your cat’s paws every day with a damp cloth. Substances that stick to her feet can prove uncomfortable. At least as important, she can end up licking them in an effort to groom herself and then ingesting things that are not good for her. These include household chemicals that you wash your floors and other surfaces with, as well as cat litter. While you’re wiping, give a quick check between her toes and around her paw pads.
2. Check your cat’s paws regularly, not only for splinters but also for cuts and swelling. Cats have a way of getting into things they shouldn’t. If you notice any pus, scabs, wounds, or an unusual odor, your veterinarian should have a look.
3. If you have a long-haired cat and she doesn’t like the hairs that sprout between her toes (you’ll know because she won’t stop licking them), trim them with a small pair of scissors. Go very gently.
4. If the weather’s very hot or cold — perhaps you have an unheated, screened-in patio or sun porch — keep your cat indoors so she can avoid those extremes on her paws. Alternatively, you could try putting winter boots on her, says Tufts veterinarian Ramón Almela, DVM. But he points out that “some training is usually needed as most cats don’t like to wear anything on their feet.”
5. Don’t just assume that a cat who constantly licks her paws is fastidious. If she’s doing it more or less without let-up, something is wrong and she should be seen by the doctor. She could be plagued with an allergy or some other kind of illness.