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Why is my cat licking and shaking her paw often?

White-and-brown cat licking its paw while reclining on a couch in warm light.

(Photo: Flickr/Liz West)

Why is my cat licking and shaking her paw often?

May 15, 2013

Q: My indoor cat (1 year old) is chewing on her right paw a lot. I've been watching her and it is between the first and second toe. There is no sign of any foreign matter or blood; no smell and everything looks okay but a little pink. She seems fine -- playing and no limping, eating as usual. She does shake her paw every now and then which makes me think she's sore. Any advice is appreciated.

A: There are a number of things that could be going on here including anything from a local skin irritation, to a foreign body between the first and second toes, to a sprain, strain or even a fracture in this paw - to one of the digits for example.

If she seems fine in every other respect and isn't limping at all, then there are a few things you could try.

First and foremost -- be sure to get your girl up to date with flea treatments if she isn't already. Make sure you use a product appropriate for her body weight and preferably a reliable product like Advantage, Advocate or Frontline.

You can then try bathing the affected paw to try and help rule out a local skin infection. You can buy a product called Chlorhexidine from your local drug store. If you dilute this 1:10 with warm water you can use this to bathe the affected paw twice daily for a week. If she licks the paw a lot, I would also suggest putting an Elizabethan collar on her for a week also as to minimize self-trauma. If you do use the E-collar, you will need to keep your girl inside as cats can become disorientated with these collars.

Finally -- make sure her nails are clipped including the dew claws on the front paws. You could also consider undertaking a food trial by stopping the lamb food and treats and starting her on a Veterinary product like Hill's Z/D ultra or Royal Canin Hypoallergenic. This can help to rule out a food allergy as the cause of her excessive licking. You would need to discuss this further with your own Veterinarian however.

-- Answer from Dr. M.D. Edwards, a veterinarian on JustAnswer.

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