Depending on how much fur your cat has on her paws, it can be hard to tell which one of them is swollen. However, once the swelling has developed sufficiently, it will soon become apparent. Even if you can’t see the swelling itself, there will be other symptoms depending on the underlying cause. This inflammatory process can be part of a localized problem such as a skin allergy or trauma. There are also systemic diseases that can cause inflammation of various parts of the body, including the cat’s paw.

In this article we will discuss why a cat’s paw may be swollen.

Feline plasma cell pododermatitis

A cat’s paw has keratinized pads on the base and toes, both on the forelimbs (palmar or metacarpal pad) and hind limbs (plantar or metatarsal pad). When the swelling is localized to the foot pads, it is possibly due to a little-known pathology such as plasma cell pododermatitis (feline plasmacytic pododermatitis).

This disease is believed to have an immune-mediated origin due to the existence of hypergammaglobulinemia. This is a condition that affects lymphocytes and the deposition of immune complexes (antigen-antibody) with response to treatment with glucocorticoids. However, other factors must be involved in its origin, since it also responds to surgical treatment without the use of immunosuppressants such as glucocorticoids.

Cats with feline footpads present with tenderness and swelling of the pads of either pair of feet. They will also show signs of pain, or may have edema, discomfort, licking of the affected area, and lameness.

Feline Plasma Cell Pododermatitis Treatment

Treatment should include antibiotics such as doxycycline, glucocorticoids such as prednisolone. In more advanced cases, surgical removal of the ulcerations may be necessary.


Arthritis is a general term for various disorders that affect the joints and cause swelling. Inflammation of a joint can be due to infectious or non-infectious causes. When several joints are affected, it is called “polyarthritis”.

The causes of arthritis in cats are varied. It can be the result of bite wounds in fights or accidents, as well as autoimmune or rheumatoid causes, viral infections (leukemia and feline immunodeficiency), osteoarthritis, bacterial infections, falls, trauma or sprains.

Cats with arthritis may exhibit the following clinical signs:

  • Inflammation of the joint, causing a lump or swelling of the affected leg.
  • Reduction or loss of mobility of the affected area.
  • Decreased physical activity and movement.
  • Joint pain.
  • Joint crepitus (screeching sound).
  • Depression.
  • Muscular atrophy.
  • Spend more time resting.
  • Increased temperature in the area of ​​the affected joint.
  • Limp.
  • Redness of the affected paw.
  • Feline arthritis treatment.

Treatment of feline arthritis should include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce inflammation and pain in the joints. This will help improve the symptoms of the affected cat. Supplements that help the joint, such as glucosamine and chondroitin, can also be used. In the most severe cases of arthritis, surgery may be considered as a last option.

Bone tumors

A cat’s swollen paw can sometimes respond to a bone tumor of one or more limb bones. The four main bone tumors are osteosarcoma, fibrosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, and hemangiosarcoma. Osteosarcoma is the most common of these types of feline cancer.

These tumors can be primary if they arise directly from the bone, or secondary when they are produced by metastases from other tumors. These cancers that lead to secondary tumors include multiple myeloma of the bone marrow or transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder. Fortunately, bone tumors in cats are less aggressive than in dogs and are usually not primary tumors.

Treatment of bone tumors in cats

Primary osteosarcomas can metastasize to the lungs and lymph nodes, although not always. When the tumor is located only in the affected limb, amputation is required. In other cases, chemotherapy and radiation therapy must be used.


Falling from great heights, having a traffic accident, fighting with other cats, are situations that can cause trauma to the cat. Even relatively superficial wounds can become infected and cause inflammation. However, fractures and sprains can cause significant swelling that can cause significant discomfort. Without treatment, they may limp.

Bacterial infections can develop into abscesses where pus builds up causing swelling. In these cases, the swelling may go down after the infection resolves, but they may also need to be drained. The infection should never be allowed to spread due to the risk of reaching the blood and causing septicemia.

Treatment of trauma in cats

If your cat has a swollen paw due to trauma, treatment will depend on the type of trauma and the extent of the damage. Small wounds on the paw or leg can be left to heal on their own, but may require antibiotic treatment and/or drainage. For breaks and sprains, the area may need to be supported with a splint or cast. In severe cases, the cat may need to stay in the hospital due to difficulty keeping it stable.

Allergic reaction

Another common reason a cat’s paw may be swollen is due to an allergic reaction. Cats can be allergic to just about anything in their environment, but their paws can be particularly affected. If the cat has a skin allergy to something that may be on the ground, contact with its paws can cause localized inflammation.

They will often play with their intended prey by hitting it with their paws. If this prey is an insect, it can bite or sting your leg, which can also lead to an allergic reaction and swelling of the area.

In some cases, these can be very serious. For example, if the cat is playing with a poisonous spider, the spider bite can lead to necrosis, poisoning, or even infection of the bite wound. When this occurs, the cat’s paw swelling will not be the only symptom.

In the case of bee stings, the swollen leg will be sore, sore, and swollen. It can also produce a general allergic reaction with changes in heart and breathing rhythm. In severe cases, this can lead to blocked airways with fainting and a bluish tongue. Treatment should include antihistamine therapy in addition to removing the stinger.

When you don’t know the cause of the bite or sting, but you know there are potentially poisonous creatures in the area, you should take your cat to the vet. This is especially the case when there are systemic symptoms such as lethargy, slow breathing, excessive salivation, or seizures. Pay attention to the symptoms that your cat may have!