My cat has a bad limp. Please help

by Kelly
(Barrie ontario)

Hi I too have a problem with my 6 year old male cat limping. It started a couple of months ago, now it seems to be getting worse. Shadow is an indoor fixed male who started limping. At that time we thought he had hurt his leg jumping. After a closer look we noticed his front left paw had lumps and cracks on it. We took him to a vet, and after they closely looked at it they thought maybe his pad got burnt or something. After reassuring them that was impossible as he never goes near a stove. But it did kind of look like that. They told me it definitely was not infected and to wait it out . After a week he was still limping. So I took him to a different vet who told me they think its an autoimmune disease. They gave him a shot of cortisone which made him walk a little better. But again he is back to limping three weeks later. After inspecting it again myself the little bumps seem bro be getting worse, and the paw is very dry looking. If you have any ideas what this might be, please let me know. Very frustrated


Kelly, sorry I'm answering a couple of days late but I've been down with a horrible cold.

Cat pads can become dry, cracked and/or get bumps for a number of reasons. Autoimmune disease is a good possibility but there could be a variety of other reasons.

Cats are sensitive to even simple things like the air being drier in the house during cold weather or spring pollen being walked into the house on your shoes. A dietary deficiency or allergy can develop quickly or slowly, causing cats to lick or bite their paws resulting in dry and raw pads.

Allergies are frequently the culprits with strange results…do you have anything new in the house since this started? A new carpet that is being walked on? A new carpet cleaner? A new laundry detergent that might leave residue on your cat’s blanket or bed (or your bed if your cat walks on it)? A new litter that your cat steps in? A change in cat food?

A diet deficiency can result in dry, cracked paws. If there is an oil or fatty acid deficiency you can get a cat food that is rich in omega-3 (fish oil, salmon, flax seeds) or you can give it as a supplement. Another diet deficiency that can cause cracked, dry pads is ingesting none of the required minerals of zinc and selenium. This can be a lack in the current food or caused by an internal illness like liver disease where too little zinc is absorbed. Zinc boosts skin strength and healing while selenium increases immunity. You can supplement your cat’s diet by giving 2 to 5 milligrams of zinc daily for a few weeks accompanied by 50 micrograms of selenium during the same period.

You can also help make your cat’s paws more comfortable by massaging oil on them until it’s absorbed. Don’t use any moisture creams meant for humans because the added scents etc. can be harmful to a cat but instead use oils such as olive oil, cocoa butter, even vitamin E cream. Keep in mind that it has to be edible because cats lick their paws.

So, if it was one of my cats, I would start by investigating any possible allergy items being added to the environment, supplementing the cat’s diet with fish oil and zinc, and massaging the paws with an edible oil.

For your convenience I found Nutiva at one of our affiliates ( and have it listed below. Although it's mainly used for taking in food it is also listed on the label as good for external uses like rubbing into the paws. It is for both cats and dogs. There are probably similar products at your local pet store.

I wish you and your cat good luck and hope the paw condition gets resolved. If after a couple of weeks of trying diet supplements and massaging the paws with oil there is no improvement, then I suggest you return to the vet that diagnosed autoimmune disease and see if he has an alternative regimen or prescription product that will help.

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