Cat paws, claws problem is a mystery

by CD

When I went to bed my cat was fine but, in the morning, his right front paw was swollen twice the size of his left paw and, at first, I thought maybe he stepped in something. I noticed one of the pads was split and the skin of the paw peeling off so figured he had cut it somehow but I did not see any blood, just rawness. He has no sores, pustules, or ulcers anywhere else on his body.

I took him to the vet and she noticed that all his other paws were somewhat swollen as well and that all his claws were discolored, cracked, blunt and splitting. He does not have a nice sharp white claw on him. And the base of a couple of claws on his rear right foot where the claw meets the skin of the toe, it is also raw and looks inflamed. The vet thought this could be calici but he has no ulcers in his mouth. The vet is not sure what the problem is, but she put him on cephalexin for seven days and said to bring him back if that doesn't seem to be helping.

He did have a few slight sneezes a few days ago and I have noticed he is drinking A LOT!!!!!!!!!! More than a normal cat.

Any ideas about what this could be and how to treat?


The first thing I thought of when I read your question was…did your cat walk through a chemical of some type? Is there construction nearby where your cat stepped in chemicals or picked up a fungal infection? Is your cat strictly an indoor cat and nothing external comes into play? Fungal infections can be something as simple as having a scratched paw that allows an entry point for fungal matter. The treatment is usually a topical anti-fungal cream and after 4 or 5 days it’s under control and healing. Chemical damage can be harder to diagnose without knowing the chemical.

Paronychia is an inflammatory and infectious skin disease of the nail beds that causes inflammation of the tissue around the nail or claw. Onychomycosis is a fungal infection that also happens in and around the nail bed. There is also onychorrhexis where the nails separate, break or slough excessively. Typically your vet would take a bacterial or fungal culture for further analysis but you didn’t mention that so perhaps your vet simply prescribed the cephalexin already suspecting it. That drug also helps with other things like bone infections. There are autoimmune disorders that can cause problems with the paws and as your vet suggested, if the medication doesn’t work she will look for another cause…which will probably be in the autoimmune arena. It looks like you are on the right path for a solution.

However, you can make your cat a little more comfortable. When one of my cats had a fungal infection in the paw pads, even though it was on an antibiotic, I figured that the litter still had to be an irritant so I got a couple of pairs of doll socks. I secured those on her by using Elastoplast adhesive bandages. She healed nicely without litter getting embedded in the paw.

The few sneezes probably aren’t an issue. My cats sneeze when they get a little wisp of their fur in the nostrils. If it continues then pay attention to all symptoms. Read the page on Cat Sneezing. A lot of water consumption can be so many things like kidney problems, urinary tract problems and even diabetes…but it could also just be a temporary thing while your cat fights off this infection. If it continues after the week of antibiotics then I would alert the vet and see if she has any thoughts. She would probably have to do some diagnostics and blood work.

Best wishes to you and your cat. Let me know how it turns out.

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