What Are Dry Cat Paws?

Disclaimer: The information presented below is for general informational & educational purposes only. Always consult with animal professionals in case of specific concerns.

In this post, we will take a close look at some of the common reasons cats may experience dry paws and provide tips on treatment and prevention.

Have you ever noticed your cat’s paws seeming extra dry and cracked, especially in the winter months? You’re not alone – dry, flaky skin on a cat’s paws, commonly referred to as “dry cat paws“, is a very common skin issue that many feline owners encounter. While unsightly and potentially irritating for your cat, dry paws aren’t usually cause for serious concern on their own. However, left untreated, they could lead to cracked pads or even infection. In this post, we’ll discuss what causes dry cat paws, the signs to look for, and some effective treatment and prevention tips you can use to keep your cat’s feet comfortably moisturized all year round.

What Are Dry Cat Paws?

“Dry cat paws” can refer to the condition of a cat’s paw pads, where the skin on the bottom of the paws becomes dry, rough, or cracked. Just like with humans, a cat’s paw pads can be affected by various environmental factors, lifestyle, and health conditions. Here are some potential causes and ways to address dry cat paws:

– Environmental Factors: Exposure to extreme weather conditions, such as hot pavement in the summer or cold and icy surfaces in the winter, can contribute to dry paw pads. Providing a comfortable indoor environment and limiting exposure to harsh conditions can help.

– Dehydration: Insufficient water intake can lead to dehydration, affecting the moisture levels in a cat’s skin, including the paw pads. Ensure your cat has access to clean and fresh water at all times.

– Litter Issues: The type of cat litter used in the litter box can also impact a cat’s paw pads. Some cats may be sensitive to certain litter ingredients, and dusty or harsh litters might contribute to dryness.

– Nutrition: A cat’s overall health, including the condition of its skin and paw pads, can be influenced by its diet. Ensure your cat is receiving a balanced and nutritious diet that meets its specific needs.

– Underlying Health Issues: In some cases, dry paw pads could be a symptom of an underlying health issue, such as allergies, dermatitis, or autoimmune conditions. If the dryness is severe, persistent, or accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it’s advisable to consult with a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

How Can I Tell If My Cat Has Dry Paws?

Royalty-Free photo: Closeup photo of cat's paw | PickPik

Here are some signs that your cat might have dry paws:

  • Cracked or peeling skin: Normal cat paw pads are smooth. If you notice any cracks or peeling skin, this could be a sign of dryness.
  • Discoloration: If the pads of your cat’s paws change color, it might be due to dryness.
  • Limping or favoring one paw: If your cat seems to be in pain or is avoiding putting weight on a specific paw, dryness could be the culprit.
  • Excessive licking or chewing: Cats may lick or chew at their paws to soothe the discomfort caused by dryness.
  • Inflamed or red paws: Dryness can make your cat’s paw pads become red and inflamed. 

How Can I Prevent My Cat’s Paws From Becoming Dry?

Preventing dryness in your cat’s paws involves several simple steps that promote overall paw health:

Provide Adequate Hydration: Ensure your cat always has access drink water to prevent dehydration and support skin health.

Balanced Diet: Feed your cat a well-balanced diet rich in essential fatty acids and vitamins to maintain healthy skin and paws. 

Regular Paw Checks: Regularly examine your cat’s paws for signs of dryness, cracking, or discoloration and bandage your cat’s paws if needed.

Use Pet-Friendly Moisturizers: Apply pet-friendly moisturizers or balms to your cat’s paws to prevent and treat dryness. Never use human moisturizers as they may contain ingredients harmful to cats.

Minimize Exposure to Irritants: Limit your cat’s exposure to harsh chemicals or allergens that can cause skin irritation or dryness.

Regular Vet Visits: Regular vet check-ups can help detect any underlying health issues that could lead to dry paws. 

Remember, prevention is always better than cure. These steps not only help prevent dry paws but also contribute to your cat’s overall well-being.

Can I Use Regular Lotion On My Cat’s Paws?

While it might be tempting to use regular human lotion on your cat’s dry paws, it is not advisable. Human lotions often contain ingredients that can be harmful or toxic to cats if ingested, and cats often lick their paws. Instead, opt for pet-friendly moisturizers or balms specifically formulated for cats. These products are designed to be safe for your feline friend, even if ingested during grooming. 

Is There A Specific Type Of Lotion Or Moisturizer Made For Cat Paws?

Yes, there are specific types of lotions and moisturizers made for cat paws. Here are a few:

  • Natural Dog Company PawTection Balm: Despite the name, this all-natural balm is safe for cats as well. It is designed to protect paws from harsh surfaces and weather conditions while delivering moisturizing benefits.
  • Pet Head Oatmeal Natural Paw Butter: This soothing paw butter has a pleasant oatmeal scent and is made with natural ingredients like shea butter, oatmeal, mango, vitamins E and F, jojoba, coconut oil, olive oil, and aloe vera.
  • Burt’s Bees for Cats Paw & Nose Lotion: Formulated specifically for cats, this lotion helps to heal and soften dry paws and noses. It is pH balanced for cats and free of fragrances, sulfates, colorants, and harsh chemicals.
  • Paw Nectar 100% Organic and Natural Paw Wax: This organic wax moisturizes and heals chapped, dry paws using ingredients like coconut oil, beeswax, and shea butter.
  • Vets Preferred Advanced Pad Protection Wax: Designed to protect paws from environmental hazards like hot pavement and sand, this wax also provides a layer of moisturizing care for dry paws.

Always remember to patch test these products on a small part of your cat’s paw to ensure there are no allergic reactions. 

How Often Should I Check And Moisturize My Cat’s Paws?

You should examine your cat’s paws at least once a week. Regular inspections can help you detect any signs of dryness, cracking, or discoloration early. However, how frequently you must moisturize your cat’s paws depends on various factors such as the weather, your cat’s overall health, and its exposure to harsh surfaces. In general, using a moisturizer once or twice a week should suffice. However, during the dry winter months, your cat’s paws might need extra care, and you might need to apply a moisturizer every other day. Always remember to use a cat-safe moisturizer. If you observe persistent dryness, cracking, or other paw issues, seek advice from your vet.

Read more: Why Do Cats Shake Their Paws?


In conclusion, dry cat paws are a common issue that many cat owners may face. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatments for this condition is key to keeping your feline friend happy and healthy. Whether it’s due to a lack of moisture in their environment or an underlying medical condition, it’s important to address dry cat paws as soon as possible. Remember to regularly inspect your cat’s paws for any signs of cracking or dryness and provide them with proper hydration and grooming care. If the issue persists despite your efforts, it is best to consult with a veterinarian for further evaluation and treatment options.