In the 60+ years I've owned cats, I've NEVER seen anything like this horny, scaly hard brown growth on the pad of her foot. About 3 months ago, I noticed what looked like a cat poop stuck to the foot pad of Littlebit's right foot, about an inch or so long, curling under her right foot from outside to inside edge of the pad. She had no symptoms other than a momentary slight limp, as tho' she had stepped on something in the carpet. Spent 2 days trying to grab it & pull it off w/ a paper towel firmly believing it was a "poop" - she hates having her feet touched, & would run away from any of my attempts at examining it or trying to pull it loose. So finally I put her in the tub in about 2 in. of water, hoping to soften the "poop" enough to remove it without pulling the hair out. Rubbing her foot lightly back & forth on the non-slip pad in the tub to loosen it, I grabbed the "poop" with a clean cloth, easily slipping my fingers under it & lifted it almost free, but spent almost a minute working it loose from the fur. Now it's back, only smaller & I can see its GROWING OUT OF THE FOOT PAD. Apparently I broke it loose the first time or maybe peeled it off. It doesnt seem to bother her but it's driving me nuts just knowing its there. What on earth could it be? This will probably need surgery, right? My cats are the love of my life. Please help.
What you are describing is likely a cutaneous horn, which is a projection/proliferation of keratin/skin cells. They can occasionally occur due to an underlying viral infection (papillomavirus, or feline leukemia), or grow off an underlying skin tumor (so if there is any lump or ulceration under the horn then biopsy would be needed). In many cases, an underlying cause cannot be found, and treatment involves periodically trimming the cutaneous horn so that it does not cause pain.
Thank you so much for your help, Dr. Coyner. Ordinarily anything unusual triggers a trip to the vet, but I've been so strapped for cash I havent been able to get her in. I was so worried that I might have to put her to sleep or something else that was dreadful. Again thank you SO MUCH!
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