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How to Treat a Burned Cat Paw Pad: 7 Expert Tips (Vet Answer)


Apr 11, 2023
poor wounds on the cat


poor wounds on the cat's paws
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Cats are curious and fearless animals that often get into dangerous situations. There are multiple reasons that your cat may get burns on their paw pads. It could be that a pot of boiling water or a pan with hot oil on the stove has spilled on them, or they put their paws on a radiator or another hot surface. Open fire or corrosive substances are two other sources that could cause problems for your cat.

As with humans, burns in cats have multiple degrees. Third- and fourth-degree burns are the most severe because they can affect all layers of the skin and can even lead to shock.

As much as we would like to prevent these accidents, it is not always possible. But knowing how to treat your cat’s burned paw pads can help prevent complications, ease pain, and speed up healing.


The 7 Tips to Treat a Burned Cat Paw Pad

When our pets get hurt, we may panic and not know what to do. It’s vital to remain calm in order to think clearly and determine how to help your cat in the situation. If your cat has burned one of their paw pads, here’s what you can do to help them.

1. Recognize the Clinical Signs of a Burned Paw Pad

A cat hiding under a couch
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Cats can hide their pain and anything else that bothers them quite well. If your cat has burned their paw pad, here are the clinical signs that they will present:

  • Exhibiting lameness
  • Holding up the affected paw
  • Meowing in pain
  • Excessive licking of the affected area
  • Having a swollen, red, and/or hairless paw
  • Being agitated or hiding under the furniture
  • Having blisters and open wounds (second-degree burns), which become visible after about 2 days

2. Identify Your Cat’s Type of Burn

If you know the type of burn that your cat has, you or your vet will know what to do next regarding the proper treatment. Regardless of the type, all burns need immediate medical attention.

The types of burns that a cat can suffer are:

  • Thermal burns — These occur when cats come into contact with a hot object, boiling water, hot oil, radiators, steam, flames, or hot pavement1.
  • Electrical burns — These are most often produced when cats chew electrical wires, but they can also occur if they step with wet paws on an uninsulated cable2.
  • Chemical burns — Substances such as bleach, drain cleaners, paint thinner, or battery acid can be corrosive and cause burns3.

3. Assess the Degree of Your Cat’s Burn

Burns in cats have four degrees of severity:

  • First-degree burns — These are the mildest in terms of severity, affecting the superficial layer of the skin (epithelial tissue). They may produce redness, pain, or slight swelling but no blisters. They heal quickly, usually within a few days.
  • Second-degree burns — These are of increased severity, also affecting the deeper layers of the skin. These are painful and cause blisters. Second-degree burns can take several weeks to treat.
  • Third-degree burns — These also affect the subcutaneous layer, resulting in tissue necrosis and the formation of black spots and crusts. These burns usually leave visible scars. The severity also depends on how extensive the area is. They usually require surgical treatment, like skin grafts4.
  • Fourth-degree burns — These affect even deeper tissues, such as muscles or bones5.
cat paw
Image Credit: Nile, Pixabay

4. Apply First Aid

As long as the burn on your cat’s paw pad has not blistered, it can be treated at home. If blisters do develop, do not burst them, as it can lead to infection.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Take your pet away from whatever has burned them.
  • If the burn is chemical, wash the area with water and mild soap.
  • Check for any other injuries or clinical signs, such as difficulty breathing.
  • Do not apply ointments or creams to your cat’s burnt area, as these can do more harm than good.
  • Cool your cat’s burnt skin with cold water for at least 20 minutes.
  • Do not use ice or ice water.
  • Dry off the burned area.
  • You can keep your cat warm with a blanket, but don’t let it touch the wound.
  • Contact the veterinarian as soon as possible, regardless of the size of the burn or severity.
  • Carefully place cling film (plastic wrap) over your cat’s burned paw pad to keep it clean until you get to the vet.

The biggest problem related to burns is that they destroy the protective layer of the skin and favor the development of bacteria. In some cases, the infection can be fatal.

5. Go to the Vet

The treatment of your cat’s burn will be instituted by the vet, depending on the severity of the wound. Most first-degree burns can be treated in one visit, with the rest of the treatment and care being done at home. They usually heal in 3–5 days. In the case of second-degree burns, hospitalization and general antibiotics will be needed to prevent infection.

In the case of third- and fourth-degree burns, shock may occur because the injuries are deep. Hospitalization can last several weeks. In addition to antibiotics and pain medication, the vet may recommend surgical treatment, such as skin grafts or amputation. Your vet may also recommend euthanasia.

Fluffy persian cat sitting at the examined by vet
Image Credit: Beach Creatives, Shutterstock

6. Watch Out for Complications

The most common complications are:

Any changes that you notice in your cat after a burn should be discussed with the veterinarian.

7. Prevent Future Accidents

Most burns are accidents in the true sense of the word and cannot be prevented. Here is what you can do to help reduce the risk:

Here is what you can do to help reduce the risk:

  • Do not allow your cat to climb on the kitchen counter or stove.
  • Supervise your cat when you’re using electric heaters and other hot items or are in potential situations that could cause burns.
  • Keep corrosive substances away from your cat.
  • Do not allow your cat to chew electrical wires or play with uninsulated cables.
tabby shorthair cat reaching for buttons on the oven in the kitchen
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock



Unfortunately, not all accidents can be prevented. Cats can burn their paw pads on hot surfaces, get splashed with boiling water or hot oil, touch corrosive substances, or suffer electrical burns. Regardless of the type of burn, contact the veterinarian immediately. Cool the burned area with water. Do not use ice or ice water. Dry the area well and wrap it in cling film. The veterinarian will assess the severity of the injury and recommend the appropriate treatment.

Featured Image Credit: Phatara, Shutterstock

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