First aid for limping cats – How to treat paw injuries

Limping cat - paw injuries in cats

If you see a limping cat, it's likely due to a paw injury. Smaller cut wounds on the paws in particular are no rarity. How can I help a cat if you notice an injury? We will show you how to deal with paw injuries with cats in the right way, how to put on a dressing and what should be in a first aid kit.

#1 rule with injuries: stay calm

If you discover that your cat is injured, the most important rule is to keep calm and not to panic. Cats are very sensitive animals. If you panic, your feline friend will also panic. Hence, it's very important to stay calm and talk to your cat soothingly.

If your cat allows you to touch it, you can give first aid yourself and put on a dressing. If placating your cat proves impossible, don't hesitate and contact a vet immediately. In emergencies – such as with severe pain – even the most loving cats can bite and cause dangerous wounds.

How do I put on a paw dressing on a limping cat?

A paw dressing is made up of several layers and staunches bleeding wounds. It also serves the function of stabilising the joints and bones in the entire lower leg. If your cat is stable enough, you can put on a paw dressing as follows:

  • Remove coarse dirt and visible foreign bodies from the wound
  • Clean and then disinfect the wound and the surrounding structures
  • Hairs reaching the wound can be carefully removed with scissors or a razor
  • Pad the areas between the toes with gauze bandages so that no friction or pressure wounds can occur later. Open blood vessels should be particularly well padded so that the bleeding is staunched until your appointment with the vet
  • With the help of a bandage, you can now swathe the entire paw including the joint above it. The dressing shouldn't be too tight or too loose. You should be able to fit two fingers between the skin and the dressing
  • If you don't have any self-adhesive dressings, you can also fix them with staples or adhesive tape
  • Waterproof adhesive tape or a paw glove temporarily help against contamination.

Read our article on the right medicine cabinet for cats.

What should be in my first aid kit for limping cats?

In order to be able to quickly tend to paw injuries with cats, it's worth putting together a first aid kit. It should contain all helpful items required for the initial treatment of wounds. We have summarised the most important tools in a list for you so that you can be well stocked.

Auxiliaries
✓ Rounded-tip bandage scissors
✓ Clean tweezers
✓ Razor to remove hairs
✓ Clinical thermometer (ideally with a flexible tip)
✓ Disposable syringes
✓ Metal-free rod for splinting a bone fracture
✓ Tick comb
✓ Disinfectants and individually packaged wound cleansing wipes
Bandage materials
✓ Several sterile dressings in several sizes
✓ Cotton wool for padding
✓ Bandage rolls
✓ Adhesive plasters, self-adhesive (cohesive) bandage or adhesive tape
Medication
✓ Disinfectant ointments, e.g. antiseptic cream containing iodine
✓ Charcoal tablets to combat vomiting and diarrhoea

How do I recognise injuries in cats?

Cats are tough cookies. Often they manage to hide injuries from us owners for days on end. This behaviour is quite normal, because their ancestors were not allowed to show any weakness in the wild for their own protection.

As a result, cats with paw injuries generally only draw attention due to behavioural changes. Along with increased reluctance to exercise, they often eat less. However, clearer signs emerge gradually too. These include:

  • Limping due to pain
  • Increased licking of the wound
  • Visible signs of inflammation (swelling, redness or accumulation of pus)

Severe paw injuries with cats: off to the vet

Ripped-out claws or profound foreign bodies trigger severe pain and bleeding in most cases. In this case, cats will only rarely allow their owner to touch them. Hence, you should definitely seek out a vet for severe paw injuries. With the help of their team, they can stabilise the cat and tend to their injury. They treat severe bleeding with haemostatic dressings or a compression bandage.

Once the bleeding is staunched, the vet can take time to look at the paw and touch it. In order to make injuries inside the paw (such as bone fractures) or deep foreign bodies visible, vets use imaging procedures like ultrasound or X-rays. Depending on the type and severity of the injury, surgical intervention may also be required.

Since paw injuries are painful, the vet usually gives wounded cats painkillers. Anti-inflammatory antiseptic creams that are applied to wounds can also help. However, antibiotic ointments should only be used if the vet has diagnosed a bacterial wound infection.

Check out Vetericyn Plus Wound & Skin Protection Spray.

Our most helpful articles
4 min

Cat litter: Clumping or Silica Litter?

It’s not just the right type of litter tray that will make your cat happy, but also the right type of cat litter. The best litters are ones that are very absorbent and ideally neutralise odours too, but finding the perfect cat litter can be no easy task with so many varieties on offer from natural clumping litter made of clay, non-clumping litter, litter made of wood or silica. Silica cat litter and clumping natural clay litter are the most popular choices among cat owners and their cats. But which litter is better for the cat, the owner or the environment?
6 min

Coronavirus in cats

Coronaviruses don't just affect us pet owners, but our furry friends too. In contrast to the new type of coronavirus affecting humans, feline coronavirus (FcoV) has already been known for several years. These include feline enteric coronavirus (FECV) and the much better-known feline infectious peritonitis virus (FIPV). The latter causes fatal feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), which leads to peritonitis and abdominal dropsy. On the other hand, people suffer from flu-like symptoms, especially those with weakened immune systems like elderly or sick people.