What to Do When Your Cat Is Sick: PODODERMATITIS

The Classic Comprehensive Handbook of Cat Care

What to Do When Your Cat Is Sick: PODODERMATITIS

Pododermatitis is an inflammation of the skin of the foot. When it involves the foot pads, it can be a sign of a systemic immune problem, but it is frequently due to local causes (e.g., a wound between the toes, contact with a irritant substance) and may also be due to infection with bacteria or fungi (e.g., ringworm).

The web of the foot in the affected areas is reddened and usually moist from exudation (leakage of fluid from tissue) and licking. It may be swollen.

This condition can be painful enough to cause lameness on the affected foot.


Examine the foot carefully in a bright light. Look closely for evidence of foreign bodies or wounds. Probe gently for areas of soreness. If you find an invader and can remove it, the pododermatitis may improve quickly.

Often the original cause is gone but the problem persists because the cat continues to lick the irritated area. Washing the foot with a gentle antiseptic soap (e.g., chlorhexidine, povidoneiodine), drying, and soaking it in warm water for fifteen minutes twice a day followed by thorough drying is often helpful. Try to prevent your cat from licking the affected area. In addition, the application of a soothing hydrocortisone cream usually helps clear up simple irritation-associated conditions quickly if you can keep the cat from licking the medication off. These products are sold over the counter in drugstores. If the inflammation and/or soreness persists longer than forty- eight hours without signs of improvement, a veterinarian will have to diagnose and administer treatment. Prolonged use of corticosteroid ointments in any but the most simple condition confounds diagnosis, aggravates certain conditions (e.g., ringworm), and interferes with healing.