If you’ve ever injured a foot, you know how debilitating it can be. Having to limp around because of a cut, sore or other trauma can really limit your mobility and cramp your style! The same goes for our feline friends making paw health an important part of your cat’s care.

So how can you help your cat stay “happy-pawed?”

– Always talk to your veterinarian if you notice that your cat is licking their paws obsessively, limping, or favoring a leg.
This behavior can indicate a variety of issues so it’s best to your cat examined if you’re noticing these symptoms. Obsessive licking can be signs of dermatological issues, food allergies, or even anxiety. Limping or favoring a leg can be signs of internal injury or even arthritis in a senior kitty.

– Wipe your kitty’s paws with a damp cloth once a day, making sure to check between the toes and around the pads.
Your cat’s feet should be kept as clean as possible, meaning free of litter, dirt and household chemicals. Keeping chemicals off your feline friend’s paws is especially important, as they may be ingested during the grooming process and cause toxicity. For outdoor cats, make sure to clean their paws each time they come back inside. By wiping each time they go in and out you remove pollen and potential toxins they may have picked up.

– Inspect your kitty’s paws for cuts, sores, swelling or splinters.
In addition to being very painful, those injuries can cause potentially dangerous infections. If your cat has a prominent and obvious splinter, contact your veterinarian immediately. Attempting to remove it yourself can potentially cause more damage and pain for your cat.

– Clip your cat’s claws regularly.
This will help prevent its nails from getting caught painfully when it scratches things. Most cats do not like it when their claws are trimmed, but gently massaging your kitty’s paws helps get it used to having someone touch its paws and makes the process a little easier. To clip the nails, carefully apply pressure to the top of your cat’s foot and the cushioned part underneath. This will cause your kitty to extend its claws. Then clip the very ends, making sure not to get too close to the base of each nail (which can cause pain). Your vet can help you with recommendations about which clippers to use and can even do the trimming if your cat is less than cooperative.

– Certain long haired breeds may need the hair between their pads trimmed.
Contact a groomer or your veterinarian before trying this at home. When and if you try it at home, always use a rounded pair of grooming scissors to minimize potential accidents. It’s incredibly easy to cut your cat’s skin accidentally and cause a painful injury.

– Talk to your vet about how to protect your cat’s paws in hot and cold weather.
Just like our feet are sensitive to extreme temperatures, your kitty’s paws can dry out and crack in those conditions. Your veterinarian can recommend products to keep them moisturized. Additionally, for outdoor cats, make sure you are keeping their pads clean of de-icing chemicals that if ingested can be toxic or can cause painful sores on their feet if left for too long.

– Find alternatives to declawing.
Declawing is a painful surgery in which a portion of your cat’s toes are amputated. Some cats also develop foot problems in the future as a result of the operation. A scratching post and regular nail trimmings can be much less painful ways to curb destructive scratching of your furniture. Contact your veterinarian for more helpful tips.