Understanding pillow foot in cats.

Understanding pillow foot in cats. Image: Pixabay

Pillow Foot in cats: What is Plasma Cell Pododermatitis?

Pillow foot, also known as plasma cell pododermatitis, is a condition where any cat can develop swollen, soft paw pads.

Understanding pillow foot in cats.

Understanding pillow foot in cats. Image: Pixabay

Does your feline friend seem to be struggling with sore, swollen paws? They might be suffering from a condition called pillow foot, also known as feline Plasma Cell Pododermatitis (PCP).

What is Pillow Foot?

Pillow foot is a skin disease that affects the paw pads of cats. It’s caused by an abnormal accumulation of plasma cells, a type of white blood cell involved in the immune system’s response. This overactivity leads to inflammation and swelling in the paw pads, giving them a puffy, “pillowy” appearance.

Symptoms of Pillow Foot

Here are some signs to watch out for if you suspect your cat might have pillow foot:

  • Swollen, puffy and smooth paw pads
  • Affected pads may appear deep pink or purple in colour
  • Deep fissure lines (deep cracks) might be present
  • Lameness or limping due to discomfort
  • In severe cases, ulcerations may develop on the paw pads

What are the causes?

The exact cause of pillow foot is unknown, but it’s believed to be an autoimmune response. This means the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue in the paw pads.

Here are some potential triggers that might contribute to pillow foot:

  • Allergies (food or environmental)
  • Insect bites or stings
  • Underlying bacterial or parasitic infections
  • Autoimmune diseases

Diagnosing Pillow Foot

If you notice any signs of pillow foot in your cat, it’s crucial to consult your veterinarian. They will perform a thorough physical examination and may recommend diagnostic tests such as:

  • Biopsy of the paw pad tissue
  • Blood tests to rule out other medical conditions

Treating Pillow Foot

Unfortunately, there’s no cure for pillow foot, but treatment can help manage the inflammation and discomfort. Here are some common treatment options:

  • Corticosteroids to reduce inflammation
  • Antihistamines to alleviate allergies (if applicable)
  • Antibiotics if there’s a secondary bacterial infection
  • Immunosuppressive medications in severe cases
  • Bandaging or padding the paws to protect them


While there’s no guaranteed way to prevent pillow foot, maintaining a healthy lifestyle for your cat can help reduce the risk of any potential triggers. Here are some tips:

  • Provide a clean and healthy environment
  • Feed your cat a high-quality diet
  • Manage your cat’s weight
  • Address any allergies promptly
  • Regularly check your cat’s paws for any signs of discomfort

Living with a Cat with Pillow Foot

With proper diagnosis and treatment, most cats with pillow foot can live happy and comfortable lives. By providing them with plenty of love, care, and veterinary attention, you can help manage their condition and ensure they enjoy a good quality of life.

If you have any concerns about your cat’s paw health, always consult your veterinarian for professional advice.

Artificial Intelligence assisted in compiling this article.