You may have seen a little pink-footed cat wandering around in your backyard, or you may have even had one of your pets catch one of these adorable furry friends.
The pink-faced felines are not as common as you might think.
According to a study published in March in the Journal of Mammalogy, pink feet have been found in more than 40 species of wild felines, including bobcats, raccoons, opossums, opisthos, bobcats and wildebeests.
In fact, the study found that a whopping 81 percent of wild cats in the United States carry pink feet.
But how do they happen?
When animals get sick, they tend to shed the pink feet to help ward off parasites.
The feet become infected as soon as the animal becomes sick, and once the parasite is inside, the parasite starts reproducing, according to the study.
So it makes sense that pink feet are part of the process that leads to them.
But there’s a catch.
Pink feet don’t just happen to be a marker for disease; they’re also the first sign that a cat is exhibiting signs of being stressed or having some other health issue.
In addition to the parasites that the pink-footed felines carry, pink-tinted feet may also contain hair cells that can cause infections if they are exposed to high temperatures.
So, when the pink cat is stressed or feeling ill, its paws become more and more coated in red, which could indicate that its coat is being thinned.
When you’re in your home, it’s important to be mindful of the signs that you’re dealing with a health issue, said Dr. Sarah McNeill, a veterinary infectious disease specialist at The College of Veterinary Medicine at Emory University.
“You don’t want your pets to get sick or have pink feet,” she said.
So to make sure that your cats aren’t spreading any more illnesses, McNeill recommends taking them to the vet for a physical examination, which may reveal any signs of stress.
“The vet may ask you if you have any other symptoms, such as fever or skin rashes, and if your cat has pink feet, the vet may want to take a look at them as well,” McNeill said.
When it comes to the health of your cat, the vets will also look for the symptoms of any other health issues that may be affecting your cat.
For example, if your cats eyes are watering, your vet may suggest that you get them checked out to make certain they’re healthy, McNeil said.
It’s important that your pet is taken to the veterinarian, McLean added, to make a thorough assessment and to check the condition of your pet.
The bottom line?
If your cat’s pink feet aren’t showing, the first thing to do is to get them examined by a veterinarian.
“A physical exam will show whether or not your pet has pink foot, but it may also be helpful to have a veterinary health history,” McLean said.
If your cats pink feet turn out to be normal, they may just be a warning sign that something is wrong with your cat and she needs to get tested, Mclean said.
“If the test comes back positive, the veterinarian will give you the option of treating your pet with a medication or by neutering her,” she added.
“Neutering reduces the parasite’s ability to replicate, so neutering is often used as an alternative treatment option.”
McLean also recommended that your veterinarian look into taking the pink cats to a veterinarian for a medical examination, as a precautionary measure if your pet does have pink foot.
“It’s important for your pet to be seen by a vet as soon it is diagnosed,” she explained.
“I would recommend that you have your pet examined at least two weeks after diagnosis, and preferably three weeks.”
If the vet is concerned that the redness in your pet’s paws may indicate a health problem, McCleary recommends that you schedule a follow-up visit to the veterinary clinic, which can usually perform a cat eye exam and check your pet for signs of illness.
And as for the pink foot?
Veterinarians can also help you find out more about the pink animal.
“For more information on pink feet and other health conditions, please visit the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website,” McClearen added.