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Why Are My Cat’s Paws Swollen? 5 Vet-Reviewed Causes & Signs

Written by: Patricia Dickson

Last Updated on June 6, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

red cat with a swollen paw

Why Are My Cat’s Paws Swollen? 5 Vet-Reviewed Causes & Signs


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM) Photo


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM)


The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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As a pet parent, you’re always doing your best to ensure your cat is loved and healthy. That’s why you get so concerned when your cat comes home limping, or it looks like their paws are swollen. There are a few reasons a cat’s paws might swell; some are minor, and others are more concerning. We’ll examine the causes of a cat’s swollen paws in the guide below.


cat paw divider

The 5 Reasons Why Cats’ Paws Can Get Swollen

1. Insect Bites and Stings

You’ve probably seen your cat on the porch swatting at an insect, trying to bat it out of the air. Cats love to swat at things in the yard, especially flying insects. The only problem is that sometimes the insects swat back in the form of a bite or a sting.

Insect stings and bites can quickly become painful and potentially infected, especially if the insect leaves the stinger behind. Both of these conditions can cause the paw to swell.

Scorpion and spider bites are more concerning and require immediate veterinary assistance. They can cause painful bites, severe infections, swelling, and even death if you don’t treat the wound immediately.

Ginger cat with a swollen paw on the floor
Image Credit: Vovantarakan, Shutterstock

2. Soft Tissue Trauma

Bruises, punctures, and lacerations are other common reasons a cat’s paw swells. These injuries can damage the soft pads and flesh on your cat’s feet. They can be caused by stepping on something sharp, getting their paw caught on something, or being bitten by another cat or animal.

Wounds can become infected, swollen, and painful. If you feel heat coming from your cat’s paw, or one paw is hotter than the other, it could mean an infection is present, and you need to make an appointment with your vet immediately for treatment. Any signs of puss, foul odors, or discharge need to be treated as soon as possible.

3. Overgrown Nails

Overgrown nails can also be a cause of swollen paws in cats. Sometimes, your cat’s nails get too long and curl around to become embedded in the cat’s tender paw. Your vet can treat the wound; if the infection has progressed, they may give your pet antibiotics.

claws of a red cat lying outdoor
Image Credit: Naturell, Pixabay

4. Dislocations, Fractures, or Sprains

Dislocations, fractures, and sprains can lead to swollen paws as well. As you know, cats love to jump, but they aren’t always as graceful with their landings as you would think. Sometimes, a sprain or fracture can occur due to a bad landing.

Some cats have also experienced dislocations, fractures, and sprains from being stepped on by accident, so be careful around your furry friend. The injuries could also be caused by being hit by a car when the cat is outside and require prompt veterinary treatment.

5. Cancer

Sadly, it’s also possible that a cat’s swollen paws result from cancer. Cancer can grow anywhere in the body, and your cat can end up with a tumor in their paw. This can cause your cat’s entire paw to swell. A tumor on a cat’s foot due to cancer may indicate that the disease is present in other parts of the cat’s body, as well.

Although a cancer diagnosis is never easy, ensuring you make a plan with your vet to discuss the various care options will keep your cat comfortable and give them the best chance for moving forward.

sad cat
Image Credit: Pixabay

3 cat divider

The 7 Signs Your Cat’s Paw Is Abnormal

You might want to be on the alert for a few signs of your cat’s paw not being quite right:

  • Favoring an injured paw
  • Limping
  • Licking the paw
  • Biting the paw
  • The paw feels warm to the touch
  • A possible foul odor from an infection
  • Your cat is less active than usual

If you see any signs of your cat having a hurt or swollen paw, you must carefully check their paws for injuries. If none are present, or it feels like the cat’s paw is hot and swollen, it’s best to get your cat to the vet right away for treatment.

cat claws when kneading
Image Credit: RJ22, Shutterstock



Cats are curious creatures, and they’re always investigating something. Unfortunately, this curiosity can end with your cat being stung by an insect and coming home limping with a swollen paw.

It’s essential to check your cat’s feet regularly to ensure they’re not swollen and nothing is embedded in them. Cats should be cherished and loved, and checking their paws is just another way to keep them safe from harm.

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Featured Image Credit: Vovantarakan, Shutterstock

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