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Cats/Swollen Paw


Hi Jessica, my 5 month old cat recently injured his paw.  I am not sure how it happened but he refused to use it three days ago.  I examined his paw and found nothing out of the ordinary and observed that he would use it now and then if he had to.  The next day he used it a lot so I figured everything was fine.  

Today, however, he quit using it again and is laying around a lot.  I examined his paw again to find that it is swollen (a little bump on the right side of the foot, where leg and foot meet.)  I read on here that heat increases swelling and the temperatures here climbed to 102 and without air conditioning (just fans) my apartment gets into the low 90s.  

I tried laying him on my lap and putting ice on his paw but he would not have that.   I live alone so it is just me trying to keep him calm, pet him and keep the ice on his paw at the same time.  I am wondering what can be done (and by one person) to help keep the swelling down?  I thought about buying some tuna for him since omega 3's are an anti inflammatory.  


Hi Brittany,

Very unfortunately, a fidgety kitten will be hard to treat alone. My expertise is not in homeopathy. But from a conventional standpoint, the only safe at-home treatments are cool soaks or compresses. Ice should be avoided, as this traumatizes the skin, but a cool gel pack or placing the foot in cool water works well. However, considering that he is likely in a bunch of pain and you can't explain it's for his own good, he's unlikely to cooperate. It's handy to have a vet give him an anti-inflammatory, first.

You're right that heat increases swelling and can exacerbate problems. But a condition that causes swelling must be present, first, and I think he's probably suffered something fairly significant. Cats typically compensate for pain associated with the minor injuries that we humans and even dogs would complain about. Only when it becomes very severe do they let on that they're feeling any pain at all. In cats, a limp is a big deal.

In my experience, the most common cause of swellings of the legs and feet is infection. These can be localized (abscesses), usually introduced by some sort of puncture, or they can be a symptom of a systemic infection. Both can lead to septic shock and death without treatment. I feel a little worried about the information that his swelling seems to be at a joint, because this can be a sign of systemic infection, and that's very dangerous. It could be a coincidence, or just a sign that his immune system is in high gear for some reason, but I have to say I would be a little worried.

Others causes of swelling are, as you're familiar with, sprains or breaks. There is nothing they can usually do about those, but you will want the vet to provide him with an anti-inflammatory if that's what's happened to your kitty. They're quite painful for a few weeks, since cats tend to try to bear weight on the injured foot.

So, I would really encourage you to have a vet check him out. As far as the tuna, no harm in it for a day or two, especially if his appetite is poor, but I have not noticed it to have any anti-inflammatory effects in my caretaking experience.


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The areas in which I have gained the most experience are cat health and feral cat management/rescue. I provide supportive care to chronically ill cats, hospice care to terminally ill cats and also am involved in trap-neuter-return efforts. My specialities lie in taming feral cats and in the allopathic treatment of cats with illnesses or special needs. I also have owned Siamese, Himalayans, Abyssinians, Russian Blues, Savannahs, Bengals, Peterbalds, Don Sphynx and Oriental Shorthairs and am well-versed in cat breeds as well as cat behavior and nutrition.


I have 15 years of extensive experience with cats ranging from breeding to medical care. My daily routine consists of caring for cats with diabetes, thyroid disease, kidney failure, feline leukemia, feline AIDS as well as feral cats. I have experience with liver patients, heart patients, feline infectious peritonitis, cancer, recovery from amputation and trauma, congenital deformities and most every disease in between. I have assisted cats giving birth and hand-nursed kittens who were neglected by their mother from 2 days old through weaning.

15 years' hands-on experience. Current nursing student. I've studied the parallels of human and cat anatomy as well as zoonotic disease, so my studies are broadening the depth of my understanding of feline anatomy, physiology and pathology.

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