Ask Laura: infected ingrown toe nail on cat

It seems to be the month of the toe! Here is another toe issue regarding infection in a cat's extra toe.

Question:

Polydactyl cat from Wikipedia My cat has an extra toe and had an ingrown toenail that wrapped around and split the skin between her big toe and the first toe and may have got infected. The vet gave her an antibiotic shot, cut nails, and wrapped it almost two weeks ago. Last Saturday it was still not healed all the way so he wrapped it again and sent antibiotics home with me to give twice daily. He said if it don't work by this Saturday he recommended amputating her toe. I really do not want to do this. Is there something else I can do to prevent this?

Answer from Dr Riggs, Best Friends Vet Hospital:

It sounds like the cat is polydactyl, which just means he has extra toes. All of Ernest Hemingway’s' cats in Key West had extra toes and if you visit his house down there they still have a number of his cat's descendents, all with the extra toes. Often times they do not cause problems, but when the grow in between the toes they can become ingrown and infected. Cats are hard to keep the nails clipped often enough, so removing that extra digit often solves the problem. The cat is more comfortable and actually will walk better. Ask your vet and the vet can tell you if that would solve the problem.

While following your vet’s instructions on keeping the toe as clean as possible and administering any medication is the best you can do to prevent amputation, removing the toe is not as bad as it sounds and would prevent future issues as well.

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