Dry Cat Paws – Causes and Remedies

Dry Cat Paws

Dry cat paws may put your pet at risk for infection and may also be painful to the cat. Some of the causes of dry cat paws include dry air, excessive licking, exposure to rough surfaces, and extreme weather. If your cat’s paws become dry, cracked, or irritated you should consult your vet for the right treatment. A home remedy for dry cat paws is to moisturize them with coconut, olive, or other types of food-quality oil. 

What causes dry cat paws?

Your cat’s paws are prone to injury and infection because they are exposed to various textures and elements. Cats that have access to the outdoors are more prone compared to indoor cats as they are exposed to rough, frozen or muddy areas and hot or sharp surfaces. 

Here are the common causes why your cat’s paws become dry and cracked: 

Exposure to rough surfaces 

Cats do not have protective clothing over their paws so they walk on bare paws exposing them to various rough elements and surfaces like pavements and roads. This results to wear and tear on their paws, making them dry and cracked.

Extreme weather conditions

This may include very hot weather or chilly winter. Extreme cold or hot weather conditions may contribute to dry cat paws, making them chapped and cracked. 

Dry air 

Dry air is usually caused by a lack of insulation inside the home. It may cause dehydration to your indoor cat and may eventually lead to dry cat paws. 

Excessive licking 

Your cat may be prone to dry cat paws because of her excessive licking behavior. Compulsive licking may be due to stress, anxiety, or boredom especially if your cat is mostly kept indoors. 

Common remedies for dry cat paws 

These are the common treatment options for dry cat paws:

1. Coconut oil 

Coconut oil has natural anti-bacterial components that help to heal dry and cracked cat paws.  It is soothing and moisturizes dry skin and prevents paw infection. It is also very safe even if ingested by cats and may even help freshen the breath, treat hairballs, and ease digestion. This oil easily absorbs into the skin but make sure not to apply too much on the paws. 

2. Fish oil 

This is a favored remedy when it comes to dry cat paws. Simply massage into the paw pads after thoroughly cleaning them. Your cat will normally lick it but it is entirely safe even if ingested. 

These are the benefits of fish oil:

  • it is rich in omega 3 fatty acids
  • it has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the risk of arthritis and heart disease
  • it is known to inhibit the growth of cancer cells 
  • it improves cognitive function
  • it reduces the risk of dementia in older cats 

3. Olive oil 

Another great option to treat dry cat paws is olive oil which is an all-natural and pure ingredient. It soothes dry and cracked paws which tend to be painful especially if it’s infected and irritated due to exposure to hot or freezing surfaces like icy roads and hot pavements. 

To apply olive oil, gently clean the paw pads with a damp cloth and massage the warm oil to your cat’s paws. It is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, oleic acid, linoleic acid, and vitamins A, D, E, and K. 

4. Proper hydration 

Dry cat paws may also be an external manifestation of dehydration. Encourage your cat to drink more water by using a pet fountain as running water is very enticing for cats. Give your feline wet canned food that’s rich in moisture and try a skin and coat cat food formula which is specially formulated for healthy skin and coat. 

5. Zinc supplement 

Providing your cat with a zinc supplement is another vital remedy to address dry cat paws. Vets usually recommend a 2.5 to 5 mg. zinc supplement to be given daily for 2 weeks or until there is an improvement in the paw pads. 

You may also feed your cat with a raw food diet consisting of red meat or poultry which are good sources of zinc for cats. You may also opt to give her a commercial raw diet containing organ meat which has no added grains and also has other nutrients like amino acids for healthy paws and skin. 

6. Protein supplement and protein-rich diet 

Dry cat paws may be a consequence of protein deficiency in felines. You should feed your cat with protein-rich cat food but stay away from low-quality cat food that may contain preservatives, unwanted carbohydrates, and fillers. A protein-rich diet ensures that your cat receives balanced nutrition and ensures she has healthy skin and coat.d

7. Keep your cat indoors. 

Keeping your cat indoors protects her from dry cat paws to saome extent. However, if you notice that your cat wants to go outside you may install a catio or cat enclosure in the backyard so she may still have some outdoor time. 

8. Use of protective clothing like puppy booties 

Make sure that your cat’s paws are protected from rough, hot, or cold surfaces with puppy booties. Cats that have access outdoors are more prone to dry and cracked paws. However, indoor cats may also suffer from dry paw pads due to an imbalanced diet. Puppy booties can easily fit an average-sized cat but you may also have some customized kitty booties made for your cat. keep your cat indoors

How to handle your cat if she resists having her paws treated? 

Some cats may resist having their paws handled and treated so make sure paw massages are a positive experience for them. Before you treat her dry cat paws, make sure to have treats in handy.  Feed her small pieces of treats while you clean and treat her dry and cracked paws. Always give a reward each time she cooperates during the treatment process. 


Cats will most often experience dry and cracked paws during their lifetime especially if they have access to the outdoors. Dry cat paws usually happen due to exposure to rough surfaces, extreme weather conditions, and unbalanced nutrition. Effective treatment options include food-based oil like coconut oil and making sure that your cat receives sufficient protein and zinc in her diet. You should also consult your vet for a thorough assessment of your cat’s condition. 

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