Protecting Little Paws (Monthly Cat Care Article)

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photo by Clarabelle Fields

Disclaimer: the staff writers here are not vets nor are they qualified to give medical advice. This article’s purpose is strictly to share stories/information and should not be used for diagnostic purposes. Please take your cat to the vet if you suspect anything might be wrong with them. Your vet will know best what to do in your specific situation.

As Julius reminded us this month, most cats consider themselves to be tigers or some other kind of large, majestic feline. And it is only fitting for tigers and lions and other big cats to explore and climb and run all over their territory. It’s good for cats to explore various parts of their house — it gives them good exercise and entertainment — but they can also risk injuring themselves and their precious little paws during their journeys through kitchens, cabinets, and other spaces.

Common sources of injury could include: burns from hot stovetops, twisted paws/ankles from slipping and falling, chemical burns (and potential poisoning/digestive problems) from stepping in household cleansers (and then licking it off). It’s important that pet parents check their house carefully to make sure there aren’t any dangers that gallivanting felines might get their paws involved in. As always, it’s best to try to prevent accidents and injuries from happening rather than having to treat them later.

Good practices to follow include:

  • Being watchful of hot stoves. Don’t let your cat in the kitchen while you’re cooking. Pay attention so that they don’t run across the stove while the burners are cooling off.
  • Consider removing tablecloths, table runners, and other coverings that could potentially make tables and countertops slick and that your cat could accidentally get tangled/caught in.
  • Restrict your cat’s access to high places, especially if your cat likes to climb. Banisters are of particular risk, since it’s very possible your cat could slip and fall from such a great height.
  • Keep household cleansers and other caustic substances locked away and out of your cat’s reach. Watch your cat carefully whenever you use these substances to make sure your cat does not accidentally step in them, especially if you are cleaning floors, bathtubs, etc.

Despite our best efforts, however, sometimes accidents do happen, and our little ones hurt their paws. In these cases, it’s important to treat the injuries properly and then to follow up with veterinary care if necessary. In the event of burns to the paws, especially chemical burns, wash your cat’s paws well with cold water and then wrap the paws in gauze. If the burns are severe, be sure to take your cat to a vet for treatment. Infection is always a concern whenever the skin is injured or broken. In the case of your cat having slipped and fallen from somewhere — this can especially happen if cats get caught in tablecloths — they could have severe bruising, a sprain, or even a broken bone. You will likely need to take your cat to the vet for a physical exam and x-rays to assess the injury, especially if the cat is crying out in pain, is limping, or if a paw/limb is visibly swollen or otherwise injured. If this happens, try to wrap your cat securely in a towel to make them more comfortable and stable during transport to the vet.

Hopefully, your cat will be a wise enough tiger to avoid getting themselves into scrapes and messes, but it never hurts to be on the safe side and know what to do in case your beloved house panther hurts a paw.

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