My cat has a swollen paw

The paw of a cat can appear swollen for different reasons, of minor or greater severity. The cat’s way of life, its history or its age are data to take into account to reach the diagnosis.

We can solve the mildest cases at home. But the serious ones require a consultation with the vet as soon as possible. Next we are going to review the most common causes of swollen legs in a cat.

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Causes of swollen paw in a cat

First, it is important to note whether the swelling is located in a single point on the limb or, on the contrary, the entire leg is enlarged. You also have to see which leg or legs are affected.

Other data that can guide the diagnosis are the age of the cat, if it is neutered or whole, or does not access the outside or already suffers from some disease. Thus, the most common causes are the following :

  • Abscesses
  • Fractures or dislocations.
  • Tumors
  • Edema.


Abscesses in cats

Abscesses are collections of pus under the skin. In the case of cats, it is common for them to occur after injuries such as those that can be done in a fight . That is why the uncastrated specimens that have access to the outside are those that are most at risk of suffering an abscess.

These types of cats are more likely to be involved in fights to defend their territory or to access cats in heat. The most common areas in which abscesses are located are the neck and head, being the parts of the body that receive the most attacks. But they can be found on any other surface, legs included.

What we will appreciate will be a smaller or larger package. Abscesses start when the cat makes a wound that appears to be healed on the outside, but is actually infected inside.

How to cure an abscess

Before an abscess we can find two situations. The first case occurs when the abscess opens. The content will go to the outside totally or partially and we will observe an open wound.

But often this opening does not occur and what we see will be a lump. In this case it is advisable to go to the vet so that he is the one who drains it and gives us the necessary treatment. Being an infection, antibiotics may be needed.

Limb fractures and dislocations

Cats have a tendency to fall from considerable heights. It is known as the parachute syndrome. The result is fractures that, above all, affect the legs, fingers or jaw. That is why it is possible that we see the swollen leg, since the bones have been broken, dislocated and displaced . Sometimes there is also an open wound.

These types of injuries can occur in accidents or strong trauma. The main problem is that the fracture or dislocation may be just one of the cat’s injuries. After accidents or falls it is likely that there will be internal damages that go unnoticed. Even if the cat appears to have only one swollen paw, it is essential to go to the vet.

Of course, both a dislocation and a fracture have to be treated by this professional. Depending on the characteristics of the injury and the cat, an operation or a bandage may be needed. In addition, drugs will be administered to manage pain and control the presence of infections.

Swollen paw: a sign of cancer in cats

In a smaller percentage of cases, the swelling of a leg may be due to cancer. The tumors grow in both soft tissue and bone. An example is osteosarcoma. That is why it is sometimes possible to see a swollen leg or a lump .

Many of the caregivers hope that the lump will disappear on its own and avoid going to the vet. But the truth is that, if it is a cancer, the earlier it is diagnosed and treated, the better the prognosis for the cat. In these cases the protocol is to extract a sample from the lump or the entire lump . In this way it is possible to know whether or not it is cancer.

If it is, information is obtained about the type and degree to which it is found. In addition, it is convenient to do a general examination of the cat, with blood tests and radio or ultrasound. Thus, its general condition is known and the presence or absence of metastases is detected. With all the information, the appropriate treatment is decided and the veterinarian can give us a prognosis.

Edema in cats

Edema are accumulations of liquids, in this case on the legs. It is not a disease, but a symptom of different pathologies that interfere with the normal balance of body fluids, which accumulate in different areas such as legs, abdomen or lungs.

Kidney or heart problems are the cause of edema. These are diseases that can only be diagnosed and treated by the veterinarian. Damage may be irreversible, but treatment provides the cat with an acceptable quality of life.

How to cure a swollen paw in a cat

Without leaving home we can take care of cleaning an abscess that opens. All other causes of bloating can only be treated by the vet. The first step is to practice good hygiene with water or normal saline solution. In long-haired cats, it may be necessary to trim the hair around the wound to prevent it from entering the injury .

Then you have to apply a disinfectant, such as chlorhexidine. To do this, we will soak a gauze or cotton well and we will pass it through the wound without rubbing. Disinfections can be repeated daily until the wound is closed. It is not necessary to bandage and it is advisable to use an Elizabethan collar to prevent the cat from accessing the wound.


If you lick it, you can open it and infect it. The problem is that it is not always easy to perform this cleaning on a cat. Especially if there is only one caregiver. Also, the abscess may not have completely drained. If the lump persists, even if it is smaller, it is advisable to go to the vet to assess the need for drainage and medication



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