How to treat a cat with a swollen paw

Written by j. lang wood
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How to treat a cat with a swollen paw
A cat's swollen paw can be an indication of insect sting, broken bone or other injury. (cat image by Lori Boggetti from

Being a cat owner means you are responsible for the health and well-being of your pet. This includes routine grooming, nutrition, and monitoring the health of your cat. Occasionally, owners are called upon to administer first aid to their cats, so you should have a pet first aid kit on hand to deal with minor injuries. Cats that go outside often come home with injuries to their paws that can include insect bites, burrs or splinters, broken nails, or injuries from fights with other cats. Injuries such as these can cause a swollen paw that should be examined carefully to determine proper treatment.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Tweezers
  • Mild soap
  • Neosporin or other antibiotic ointment
  • Gauze pads and bandage
  • Icepack
  • Baking soda
  • Scissors

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  1. 1

    Examine the swollen paw carefully under good light. Look for cuts, punctures, broken nails, bee stingers, or areas of redness.

  2. 2

    Remove stingers or splinters with a pair of tweezers. Mix a paste of baking soda and water and apply to the bite. Apply an icepack to reduce swelling

  3. 3

    Cut hair away from wounds.

  4. 4

    Clean small cuts with a mild soap and plenty of water.

  5. 5

    Apply Neosporin or other antibiotic ointment to a clean gauze pad and place over the wound. Wrap the paw carefully with gauze and tape the end with bandage adhesive tape.

  6. 6

    Change the bandage every three days or more frequently if the wound has drainage.

  7. 7

    See your veterinarian for further treatment for your cat if the swelling continues.

Tips and warnings

  • Also look between the toes of the paw to see if a foreign object is lodged between the toes or if the skin is cut or punctured.
  • Broken or ingrown nails can be quite painful. Seek your vet for proper treatment.
  • Swelling of that paw can be caused by sprains or broken bones. If you do not see a wound, take your cat to the veterinarian to be X-rayed and treated.
  • Heavy bleeding or pain indicates you should seek a veterinarian's advice promptly, according to VetInfo.
  • Your pet first-aid kit should contain antibiotic ointment like Neosporin, tweezers, scissors, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, gauze pads, gauze bandages, tape, petroleum jelly and cotton balls, according to Pet University.
  • Paw injuries can cause limping, licking the paw, tenderness, bad odour and favouring other paws when walking.
  • Swelling and pain can be a sign of serious infection which may require antibiotics by injection or by mouth. Consult your veterinarian for treatment.
  • Multiple insect stings can cause a cat to go into anaphylactic shock. Symptoms include wheezing, weakness, pale mucous membranes, trembling, weak pulse, vomiting, diarrhoea, an unconsciousness, according to Pet Education. his is a health emergency that must be treated immediately.

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