How Dirty Are Your Cat’s Paws?

With the amount of time your cat spends cleaning and grooming itself, you’d think she’d be spotlessly clean, right? Well, a quick check of the underside of your cat’s paws may shock you.

Cats seem to be licking their paws clean all the time, but it actually is a difficult spot to clean for them, so a little help from your end could definitely make all the difference in the world.

The smell could also be a tell-tale sign that your cat needs help cleaning its paws. If you have been going out of your mind tracking where that foul smell is coming from when both the litter box and your cat’s tush are clean, it might be that some cat waste is stuck (and probably crusting) in your cat’s paws. Yuck! (It might also be cat pee somewhere unusual. Read: 7 tips how to find cat pee.)​


Are Dirty Cat Paws Dangerous?

Aside from being disgusting and intolerably smelly at times, dirty cat paws could cause real danger not just to your cat itself, but to you and the other people/pets sharing the space with the feline.

Experts over at Cattime warn against Toxoplasmosis, a disease caused by the bacteria present in cat excrement. When ingested, it will cause flu-like symptoms and even horrible birth defects when ingested by a pregnant woman.

If you think it highly unlikely that the cat waste stuck under your cat’s paws will end up into your food somehow, think of all the times your cat pounced in your kitchen counters in pursuit of whatever. Think of all the times it lounged in your dining table and even near the sink. Freaking out yet?​

How to Clean a Cat’s Paw

  • 1. Use a damp cloth or pet wipes – Most cats are not too keen on jumping into a full bath or maybe even just dipping its paws in the water. Therefore, we should always try and see if damp clothes or pet wipes could do the trick so we can all avoid the drama that comes with actual open water.
  • 2. Check for debris, cuts, etc – Cat experts at Vetinfo remind us that since cats love roaming adventures wherever their paws take them, a thorough examination of their paws while cleaning is crucial. See if there is anything that requires tending – cuts, sores, the sort of thing so that you could call up your vet for assistance. Do not, under any circumstance, extract foreign objects stuck in your cat’s paw by yourself. This might do more harm than good.
  • 3. If damp wipes don’t cut it, a bath should – If, after a thorough cleaning with damp clothes, your cat's paws still seem to stink then there's no stalling it – time for a quick bath. If you are sure that the paws are the only problematic part, however, you can limit it to a paw bath – less squirming, less drama.

    Make a water-shampoo solution where you could dip your cat's paws - We also have a guide on the best cat shampoos for allergies and fleas. Then, massage the paws thoroughly, making sure you get even the spaces in between those toes. Afterward, run your cats paws in running water to rinse the shampoo. Then, dry your poor cat's paws as much as you can, and let him do the rest.
  • 4. Clip, clip, clip! – Longer nails mean bigger chances of debris and feces getting stuck, so to keep your cat’s paws cleaner for longer durations, grab a nail clipper and get your cat accustomed to shorter nails.

    It is not easy to clip a cat’s nails especially because they have nerves that you can hit and it can hurt them very badly. For help, you may refer to the video blogs of Jackson Galaxy, a two-time New York Times best-selling author and a cat expert for more than 20 years now.

How to Keep Your Cat’s Paws Clean

The whole cleaning and bathing thing could be stressful to do every day, both for you and your cat. The logical thing to do is look for long-term solutions that will just prevent your cat's paws from getting very dirty:

  • 1. Get a litter mat – Cats step on the litter when they go, and they use their paws to cover up the waste. This is where faeces get stuck in your precious cat’s paws, and without a litter mat, they go on to immediately spread the disease-inducing waste all over the house.

    Having a litter mat will decrease the chances of this happening since your cat would have to step on the mat (and shed most of the waste) before even getting out of the litter box.
  • 2. Cat scratching posts and cat condos – Your cat's paws also get very dirty when they scratch surfaces like tree barks and even your furniture at home. To prevent them doing this, get your cat/s scratching posts and cat lounges that will actually keep their paws healthy instead of dirtying them. We understand how some of these cat furniture could get very expensive. Worry not, however, as you can just DIY it. For reference: 15 DIY cat tree ideas.

Other Cat Paw Care Tricks

  • Regularly visit the groomer Longhaired cats need more frequent visits to the groomer compared to short-hairs. Some cats may even have hair or fur poking out of its paws. These could be very uncomfortable and difficult to clean, so talk to the groomer about trimming it.
  • Ask your vet for a moisturizer prescription – If you think a dope moisturizer for harsh weathers is an exclusive human need, your veterinarian would argue otherwise. Cats and dogs both benefit from a good paw moisturizer. Ask your veterinarian for a prescription!
  • Minimize outdoor time – The outdoors contain loads of dirt and foreign elements that easily lodge into your cat’s paws and make them dirty, so if your cat is perfectly happy with staying indoors, then there’s no need to explore outside!
Rebecca Welters

Yes, I am that weird cat lady with 200 cats and live in the darkest corner of the city where no one dares to go! Joking! But I am a cat lover and have 2 Ragdoll cats called Toby, he's 3 years old and Dory, she's 8 years old. I'm 36 years old and live in the quiet town of Washington.

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