Not Exactly Twinkle Toes

Let me start off by saying don’t read further if you are easily icked-out. Oscar4

Oscar followers know a few things about Oscar like the fact that he lived outside on his own for at least 3 of his 4 winters. I thought that maybe he had some frostbite on his back toes because they had some dark patches that didn’t look natural. His ears have tattered edges from confirmed frostbite so this supported my hypothesis. I promise you that this hasn’t seemed to bother Oscar at all.

At Oscar’s recent vet-visit, the vet thought that maybe Oscar’s crusty toes were part of an allergy.

I went through every photo I’d taken of Oscar’s feet and put them in chronological order to try to gain better perspective. The photos below are of the back paw pads – the worst. There are some strange things about this.


Here one toe seems swollen a little – but at no time did his feet seem swollen or puffy and he’s never really licked them (Podadermatitis)

This was taken couple of weeks after coming indoors. I’d noticed that he had unnatural dark splotches on his toes soon after he came in and thought I’d just remain aware of this. He had Revolution, vaccines, and anesthetic in the first days inside – so this could be a reaction to these or a preexisting issue. I don’t remember noticing his toes prior to trapping him.


Not pretty. I began Omega3 oils, increased humidity in his room, and used an olive-oil balm and bag balm on his feet. I began with bag balm but got nervous about the safety to any regular use.

Oscars feet began getting really dry and gross – this is about 2 months indoors. I thought it was callous or early-stage frostbite combined with the fact that indoor air is drier especially in winter. I hadn’t compared this to the photo above. His front paws were dry, but his back paws were horrible. I increased the humidity in his room, gave him a bit more oil in his diet, and put a thin layer bag balm on the tile beside his food bowl (aka self application). After a few applications I changed to a natural lanolin/olive oil balm for safety: in case of some ingestion. At no time did his feet split or bleed (no visible lesions either) and there was no licking of his feet – all good signs.


The dryness seemed to improve and the crusty bits began to come off. The crusts were thicker here than I initially noticed. The good news is that the pads underneath seem mostly pink (still a few darker areas)

After feeding him a little omega 3 fish oil, vitamin E for a week, and putting the natural olive oil/ lanolin based balm on the floor beside his food, the dryness seemed to improve. (Fish oils, pure olive and coconut oil are safe for cats – not all human oils are. Some Omega 3 oil is grain based and which aggravates allergies) The dry crusty bits began to come off.

These days Oscar’s paw pads look much more normal – he’s been inside for 5 months. There are one or two little scabs remaining. Those dark patches are replaced by pink. As the vet pointed out, one paw seemed to have a fissure that has healed. He hasn’t had any open cuts or fissures while he’s been inside. It must be old – though it was hard to see under the dead skin.


Yesterday. There are a few scabs remaining and most dark patches are replaced by pink. Looks like there are some old fissures that have healed.

Ever seen anything like this? What do you think it was? Allergy? Early stages of frostbite? Poison or toxicity? Chemical burn? Just very bad dry skin? Why was it much worse on the back paws?