What is pododermatitis in cats? It is believed that an underlying infection can provoke this inflammatory response in the pads of its feet. All ages and breeds of cats can be affected by this condition. Both males and females are susceptible to pododermatitis. If you suspect that your cat has pododermatitis, it is important that you take him to a veterinarian for treatment as soon as possible.

If this problem is not treated, secondary infections can develop. The problem can be very painful in advanced cases, leaving the cat with swollen paws that are very sensitive to the touch. The cat can even become lame if the paws are damaged too much. Pododermatitis is often associated with renal amyloidosis (a kidney disease) or plasma cell stomatitis (a disease of the mouth).

Feline pododermatitis is a condition in which severe inflammation develops on the cat’s paw pads. All four pads can be affected at the same time and in fact it is rare that only one of the legs becomes inflamed.

Pododermatitis occurs when the immune system is mistakenly activated and overproduces lymphocytes, which then accumulate on the cat’s paw pads. The antibodies then attack the healthy legs and cause swelling and pain to develop.

But let’s take a closer look at what are the symptoms, diagnostic causes and how to cure pododermatitis in cats.

Symptoms of pododermatitis in cats

In very mild cases, the cat may not feel any discomfort. Signs of feline pododermatitis can occur along with signs related to mouth sores or kidney problems. The most important signs to look out for include:

  • Soft and swollen pads.
  • Violet coloration on the pad.
  • Ulcerations on the pads.
  • Limp.
  • Lethargy.
  • Anorexy.
  • Excessive licking of the paws.
  • Bleeding from the legs

Causes of Pododermatitis in Cats

The exact reason why a cat can develop pododermatitis is largely unknown. While there are reasons to believe that a poorly functioning immune system plays a role in the condition, more research is needed to confirm the exact cause of the reaction. All known causes are listed below:

  • Immune disorders.
  • Reaction to certain materials in the sand.
  • Feline immunodeficiency virus.
  • Feline leukemia virus (FeLV)
  • Calicivirus.
  • Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP)

Diagnosis of pododermatitis in cats

Make an appointment with your vet to have your cat’s paws professionally evaluated. Be sure to provide your vet with the cat’s complete medical history to help with diagnosis and explain possible reasons for the development of pododermatitis.

The vet will perform a complete physical examination of the cat. Complete blood tests will likely be necessary, including a complete blood count to detect anemia and a biochemical profile to assess all levels of substances in the blood. In cases of pododermatitis, both the number of lymphocytes and the levels of globulin antibodies will increase. Your vet will need to differentiate pododermatitis from other health problems that could be causing the discomfort, such as insect bites and cancerous or benign tumors. For full confirmation of pododermatitis, the swollen pad may need to be biopsied and histopathologically examined for an increase in plasma cells. Tests for viruses such as FIV and FeLV should be performed.

How to cure pododermatitis in cats?

If the case of pododermatitis in the cat is very mild, less aggressive treatments can be sought first. If any secondary health problems have developed, you may also need additional treatment. Typically, pododermatitis is treated as follows:


Oral administration of certain antibiotics has been found to be effective in treating some cats with pododermatitis. Doxycycline is an antibiotic that has properties that appear to regulate the immune system. Many cats with pododermatitis will experience improvement when subjected to prolonged treatment with antibiotics.


A steroid prescription can be helpful in treating underlying immune disorders. Daily oral administration of prednisone or glucocorticoid can be effective. Methylprednisolone acetate injections can be a longer lasting alternative.

Surgical removal

In advanced cases of pododermatitis where ulcerations have formed, surgical removal of the ulcerations may be necessary. General anesthesia is required for this procedure.

Recovery from pododermatitis in cats

If your cat has undergone surgery for pododermatitis, you will need to follow all care instructions provided by your veterinarian. Special care may be required to keep affected paws clean throughout the healing process. Activity may need to be limited during this time. Check the incision daily to make sure no signs of infection have developed. Regardless of whether surgery has been performed or not, always keep your cat’s litter box clean. This will prevent many infections.

Administer all medications as prescribed. Regular follow-up appointments will be needed to assess whether the condition is healing and possibly adjust dosages if adverse drug side effects have started to manifest themselves.

Topical treatments, such as applying moisturizers, can help relieve pain while addressing the underlying problem. It is also important to mention that spontaneous recovery from pododermatitis is possible in some cases. The problem is usually manageable and affected cats can continue to live normal lives. But, if the cat has been diagnosed with a feline virus, the prognosis may worsen. Do not neglect the health of your cat and pay attention to every anomaly that you detect in him.