Swollen paws can be a result of several different causes, which can make determining the best treatment route difficult. When your cat is suffering from a swollen paw, should you make an appointment with your veterinarian or wait it out?
Don't Give Your Cat Medication
Never give any over-the-counter or unused portions of prescriptions to your pet without consulting your veterinarian first. For additional information on aspirin and Tylenol®, please see the Veterinary Q & A: Aspirin article.
Common Causes of Swollen Paws
Soft tissue swelling could mean a few things: insect bite or sting, infection and abscessation, or blunt tissue damage. The first question to ask: is the paw painful?
A bee sting can produce swelling very quickly, but it usually isn't too painful. (Cats are generally more prone to getting insect bites/stings on their paws from batting at bugs, whereas dogs typically get swollen lips from trying to snap at the bugs.) This is an allergic type of reaction, and if it doesn't get infected, will go down in 24 hours or less. Your veterinarian can administer or recommend medications to help reduce swelling and stop the allergic reaction.
Other bites/stings, such as those from spiders, scorpions or other insects can produce painful, nasty swellings with tissue necrosis (death).
It is wise to call your veterinarian as soon as you notice any swelling on the paws or elsewhere.
Punctures, bites, and other tissue trauma can also produce large swellings that are infected (pus-filled). These swellings are often are painful, depending on what stage of infection. Definitely give your veterinarian a call as soon as possible -- medications to treat each condition are different, and if untreated, can get considerably worse in a short time.
Please note: this article has been provided for informational purposes only. If your pet is showing any signs of illness, please consult a veterinarian as quickly as possible.