Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard
Snow Leopard cub (7 mos old) - Cape May County Zoo

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Mushy Paw Pads in a Cat

A middle aged cat came in for lameness on one of her paws. This is what we found:

At first glance, you might think she burned her pad. These pads are often very "mushy" to the touch - not the normal semi firm consistency of a healthy pad. 

This condition is called pododermatitis. It can affect all the feet or just one or more. It generally affects the "large" pads on each foot or paw - the metacarpal pads (in the front paws) and the metatarsal pads (in the back paws). More specifically, this lesion is most often correctly called lymphocytic plasmacytic pododermatitis. That is a description based on a biopsy of these lesions. Lymphocytes and plasmacytes are the types of cells found in this lesion. 

Unfortunately, this is still a poorly understood condition. It seems to be similar to what we call eosinophilic granuloma complex (ECG), which can cause lesions on the upper lips ("rodent ulcers"), patches on the belly (eosinophilic plaques) or lines of inflammation that run down the hind legs in on the back surface (linear eosinophilic granulomas). 

They all seem to represent a type of heightened or over response of the cat's immune system. We know that in many cases of EGC, underlying allergies can be the cause (flea allergies, food allergies and inhalant allergies). 

Pododermatitis may or may not have a cause like this. Typically, one is not found and it's a matter of trying to resolve or remove the lesion. They are often treated with steroids - either oral or injectable, sometimes in the lesion itself. Antibiotics are also sometimes helpful. For refractory cases, the best course is to remove the pad. This seems to be a moderately painful problem for the cats as they are often lame. I have seen cats with all four feet affected. 

Fortunately, this is not a very common condition. 


  1. Oh my god my poor cat has this problem. and the Vets here in The Nederlands don't know how to treat it : ( is there any home remedy I can apply ?

  2. Jess, have they tried steroids? That's usually the best first course and sometimes surgery. I'm sure they have access to AAFP info there - it's a world wide organization of feline vets. Have them look into it.