Cat Horned Paw

Cat Horned Paw – A Complete Guide To Hyperkeratosis Cat Paw

Spending a majority of their lifespan on their feet, cats should receive good care of their paws. Though they are made to withstand a lot of wear and activity, they do experience certain problems at times. It is important to understand the problems associated with cat paws to be able to recognize when they are in pain and resolve the issue before it becomes serious.

One of the most commonly reported problems among cat owners is horned paws. If you too are concerned about hyperkeratosis, this guide should help you understand all you should know about this condition and the available treatment options.

Cat Horned Paw – A Complete Guide

Horned paw is a condition involving keratin formations on the cat paws protruding out of the paws and looking like horns. You might have noticed your cat making clicking sounds as it moves or come across some weird horn-like spots on its paws. These spots are called cutaneous formations or horned paws in the world of veterinary. This problem can affect one or multiple footpads with new nails forming around the old ones.

Do Horned Paws Hurt Cats

While the exact cause behind the development of cat horned paws is not yet known, there are several reasons responsible for these formations. The simplest cause is the formation of calluses developed from constant friction and rubbing on the paw pads. These can build up over time to the point where you hear or see hard horn-shaped points on their paws.

Another common reason for the formation of cat horned paws is a cyst and its leaking fluids that can harden with time. The fluid and dead skin cells slowly build up and form a hard horn shape. Most cats have horned paws from the overgrowth of keratin, the protein material that forms nails, hair and horns in animals.

Some other types of horned paws may be associated with more serious conditions like FeLV, papillomavirus infection or squamous cell carcinoma. The vets, therefore, conduct tests and biopsies to rule out such possibilities when a cat develops horned paws.

Hyperkeratosis Cat Paw

Hyperkeratosis is a condition where the cat shows excessive formation of keratin, resulting in abnormal growth or thickening of the skin on paws resembling horns. This condition is common in cats and other animals and is mostly caused by excessive pressure or friction on the paw area. The calluses formed out of constant friction results in horn-like growth. Another common cause of hyperkeratosis is genetics. Just like we develop a variety of skin problems including eczema and irritation, some cats simply develop hard growth on their paws because of their genetics.

While there is no cure available for hyperkeratosis at this time, there are some preventative measures that cat owners can take. Apart from this, there are some ways the symptoms can be managed by softening and removing the hardened skin on the paws.

Do Horned Paws Hurt Cats?

Horned paws are generally harmless for most cats. If the horns are away from weight-bearing areas of the paw, the cat will not feel any discomfort while walking, landing or jumping. However, if the horns develop on the planar areas, it is possible that the cat has some problem with its mobility. Just like nails, the horned paws get longer and longer until they curve back and start poking at the paws. This means your cat is likely to feel the pain at some point from horned paws. This is why it is important to address this condition on time.

Can You Cut Horned Paws?

Though horned paws are generally harmless and do not cause any pain or discomfort, you can consider cutting them to avoid the annoying clicking sound and any future implications. Whether you need to remove the cutaneous horns depends on the severity of the condition. Your vet can look at the growth and assess the situation based on several factors to advise on cutting the horned paws of your cat.

Sometimes, the growth can be harmless but you can consider cutting them if they become an obstruction in the cat’s movement. You can also cut them to prevent furniture scratching and the clicking sound when the cat moves around. It is just a hard skin and your cat should not have any pain or discomfort while cutting horned paws.

Can You Cut Horned Paws

Cutaneous Horn Cut Paw Treatment

If your cat is facing some problems with the cutaneous horns, you can consider one of the treatment options available.


Cutaneous horns are just hardened skin with no nerves, blood vessels or anything that could cause pain. This is why you can easily trim them to the level of the footpad just like nails. Simply treat the keratin spots as nails and trim them with clippers. The rate of growth of new horns is about half that of the original ones so you may not need frequent trimming.


As the actual mechanism behind cutaneous horn formation is not known, the effects of medicines vary from one pet to another. However, your vet is likely to prescribe medications like Interferon, Azithromycin and others to help the pet deal with problems caused due to keratin formations.


If your cat is facing a great deal of pain and discomfort from a cutaneous horn, surgical removal is the best option. The vet would not just remove the growth but also eliminate the actual base to prevent any future resurgence. However, it is important to consider the risk of mobility impairment before treating this condition with surgical procedures.