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Swollen Toe - What else could it be? | Ask A Vet!


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Swollen Toe - What else could it be?
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Forum Posts: 194
Member Since:
2 October 2016
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12 July 2017 - 5:58 pm
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I’m taking my cat in tomorrow to have his toe examined. It is sore to touch and causing him pain to walk or stand on too much. X-rays a month ago showed no bone issues but some minor swelling in the soft tissue around the end of his middle toe. At that point the vet said he probably twisted it, gave antibiotics and metacam and sent us on our way. 

Kitty was better, quickly, but in the past week or so has deteriorated (there are some circumstances to consider – we’ve recently moved. There have been lots of boxes and things he may have gotten up on while I wasn’t around. There are stairs at the new place, which may have exaccerbated a simple injury given that he only has the one front paw now and it’s taking a lot of weight if he goes down them). 

Vet I saw for a quick chat today said he suspects soft tissue cancer, given previous bone cancer diagnosis (hence the loss of kitty’s other front leg). 

Tomorrow he is going to sedate my cat (who can’t be examined without sedation bc he’s so anxious) and get a good look, then – if he can’t rule out cancer by manipulating it and doing an x-ray- he’s going to suggest either a biopsy or amputation of the toe to send away for histology. 

My question is: if it’s not an obvious injury and testing is needing…what might it be, other than cancer? Is there anything it could be, at that point, that wouldn’t require further surgery on the toe?

I’m trying to decide whether it’s better to take the toe right off or do a biopsy instead …. but if there’s nothing it could be, cancer or otherwise, that wouldn’t result in needing the toe off to cure …I may as well do that immediately :/

Thanks for your advice. 


Forum Posts: 1905
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12 July 2017 - 7:33 pm
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If it is not a cat bite abscess I would look for cancer.  Make sure your vet takes a chest xray since cats can get primary chest tumors that metastasize to the toes.  It should be easy to see with a fine needle aspirate if there are cancer cells there.  Cats can easily lose a toe even if tripod but I would definitely check out the lungs.


Forum Posts: 194
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12 July 2017 - 8:17 pm
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He doesn’t come in contact with other animals. He is solely an inside cat. The vet didn’t mention anything about a fine needle aspirate..he said something about incision or excision, indicating that doing an incision and removal of part of the swollen bit would require a stitch or two…and either way having to send away for results way-confused

Thanks for your quick response. 

The Rainbow Bridge

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13 July 2017 - 9:48 am
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Thank you so much for that input Pam! I always learn something new from you.

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