Cat paws are adorable and remarkably sensitive to touch, thanks to an abundance of receptors in the deeper layers of the footpads, a.k.a. toe beans. However, are you worried because one or more of your furry friend's paws feel hot? Cats have a higher average temperature than humans, 101.5 Fahrenheit, to be exact, so your cat's paws might normally feel warmer than your hand. But some concerning conditions can cause cats' paws to feel like they're giving off way too much heat.
Your cat could be overheated simply because she's having fun running around playing. Like humans, a cat's body temperature rises with exertion or after sunning themselves in a warm spot. Cats sweat from their paw pads and between their toes, but that's such a small surface area that it doesn't do much to help cats cool down. So, if your cat seems overheated and it's a hot day, you can help him out by providing a bowl of cold water with ice cubes, setting a fan to make a gentle breeze, or giving the cat a specially designed cooling mat.
Cats can't tolerate hot temperatures as well as people do. Their primary way to cool down is by breathing fast to exhale warm air and inhale cool air. Cats that are stressed by heat also produce drool that they apply to their coats via grooming. The saliva is meant to cool the cat down when it evaporates. If a cat has airway problems or the day is too humid for the saliva to evaporate, heatstroke is a real risk. This is an emergency that needs prompt veterinary care. If you notice excessive drooling and grooming in your cat plus hot, sweaty paws, lower her temperature with cool water or a wet towel and take her to the vet right away.
A cat with a sprained foot or broken bone might have a paw that feels hot. Try to feel the cat's leg, starting from the toes. Apply very gentle pressure to see if the cat reacts to pain and feel for any swelling. If your cat legs you, try to flex their joints to see if she resists, which could signify joint pain. You can compare the leg with the hot paw to other legs to see if they feel the same. If just one paw is hot and the cat seems disturbed when you touch that leg or foot, it's time to see a vet for an exam and x-rays.
If a cat's paws are unusually warm and also seem to cause irritation or itchiness for your favorite feline, an allergy could be responsible. If you notice your cat biting at or overgrooming its paws but nowhere else on its body or face, it could be the cat's litter causing the irritation. Try switching brands and avoid unscented litter to see if that makes a difference. Your cat could be sensitive to chemicals that you use on your floors. Wash her paws in lukewarm water and try switching products if your cat is showing those signs of contact dermatitis.
Insect bites and bee stings are common causes of a hot paw in a cat. If the reaction to the sting is limited to just the paw, you can treat your cat at home by washing the paw in the water, making sure the stinger is out, and applying a paste of baking soda and water. Apply an ice pack to help reduce swelling and relieve pain. You can apply calamine lotion to help with itching, but make sure to keep the cat from licking the lotion off by covering the paw with a bandage or using a pet cone.
Cats can burn their paws on hot concrete or by jumping up on a hot stove. Most burns need veterinary attention because there's a risk of life-threatening shock if the burn is more than minor. Don't apply butter or other greasy substances to the paw, but you could cover the paw with damp gauze before going to the vet. If the cat's burn is minor, use a cold compress for half an hour for pain relief. Wash the paw, trim away any fur that touches the paw pads, and apply antibiotic ointment.
Indoor cats, older cats, and cats with extra toes are at risk of ingrown claws. When the claws, which have a c-shape, grow too long, they can pierce the paw pad and continue growing into it. Not only is this very painful for the cat, but their paw will become prone to infection since bacteria can get under the skin of the pad. If you discover that your cat has an ingrown nail, go to the vet to have the nail surgically removed. They'll also likely prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection.
A cat's paw might feel hot because it has cuts or lacerations somewhere on its paw that are becoming inflamed and possibly developing an infection. You might not be able to spot a tear right away based on the color of the cat's fur and the location of the cut but look carefully for crusted blood on the affected paw.
Ticks and chiggers can infest the thin skin between a cat's toes. The irritation these parasites cause can lead to inflammation that makes a cat's paw feel hot. Outdoor cats are most prone to picking these up. Chiggers and ticks tend to feed in areas where the skin is thin. In addition to the skin between the toes, you might see them around the ears or mouth. Left unchecked, a cat will develop red sores with scabs. Fortunately, you can easily eradicate these pests with prescription pet shampoo.
Some autoimmune disorders can cause a cat to have paws that feel hot to the touch. Lupus erythematous is one. The paw pads can develop painful ulcers in a cat with this condition, and it can commonly lead to secondary infections. If your veterinarian diagnoses your cat with an autoimmune disorder, prescription steroids and immunosuppressive drugs can help to control symptoms and keep your cat feeling its best.
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