I Accidentally Stepped on My Cat: Essential Next Steps

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Accidentally stepping on your cat is, unfortunately, bound to happen at some point. They have a tendency to sneak up on us and it particularly seems to happen when we’re in the kitchen. They’re hoping for a treat, so they stand right behind us while we’re digging through the fridge and the next thing you know, we’ve accidentally stepped on our cat.


You’ll naturally feel horrible and your cat will naturally feel scared, this article outlines the important next steps to take.




If you’ve accidentally stepped on your cat, you’ll want to de-escalate the situation so they know they’re safe, calmly approach your cat, and check for any injuries. If they’re limping or crying when you touch the spot you’ve stepped on, it will be important to call your veterinarian. If they seem okay, just spooked, you can use love and affection to show them it was an accident.



Your cat reacted instinctively, and even though they know you would never intentionally hurt them, they’ve just experienced pain and have likely ran away.


Although they may have scared you and maybe even angered you because they’re always at your feet, don’t yell out of frustration.


You may be slightly panicked but take a deep breath and speak in a loving and calming tone to ask if they’re okay. Cats may not be able to understand the words we speak, but they do understand the feelings we have behind those words.


If your cat has ran out of the room, don’t run after them; they may believe they’re being chased. Calmly say their name as you quietly and slowly walk towards them.


When you find them, crouch down to become less intimidating and slowly extend your hand and speak to them in a loving tone. They should feel soothed by your voice and come towards you. If they’ll allow you, slowly start to pet their head to reinforce that everything is okay.


When your cat is scared and hiding, you may need to use a treat to coax them out or give them a few minutes to realize they’re safe and you just want to help them.




Once you’re able to hold your cat, look at the area you’ve stepped on to first ensure they aren’t cut (from your shoes; consider not wearing hard bottomed shoes in the house moving forward).


If they’re bleeding, it will be important to clean the area with a clean cloth and water or mild antiseptic solution (never use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide) and perhaps wrap it with gauze so it doesn’t become infected. Deep cuts or ones that don’t stop bleeding after 15 minutes require you to call your veterinarian.


If there doesn’t appear to be a cut, or after wrapping the cut, gently touch the area you’ve stepped on. It may be a little tender so they may pull away, but if they scream out in pain or won’t even let you near them, it may be a sign that they’re more seriously injured.


Over the next few hours, monitor your cat to see if they’re limping, constantly licking the area, or have any swelling. If you notice any of this behaviour/symptoms, contact your veterinarian; your cat may have a broken or fractured foot.


Cats do have a tendency to hide their pain well, so watch for any behavior that seems slightly out of the ordinary to them. That may include:

  • Not eating
  • Not using the litter box
  • Hiding
  • Low energy/less playful
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Etc.


If you’ve accidentally stepped on your cat’s stomach, they could have internal bleeding, and behavior mentioned above may be an indication of an internal injury. If you can’t see any external injuries but your cat is acting strange, contact you veterinarian immediately.


Your cat’s behaviour may change slightly after accidentally stepping on them, due to them temporarily wondering why you hurt them, but if you follow step 1 and 3, they should be back to their normal selves fairly quickly.


Monitor your cat for the next several hours and the next few days. If they go back to their normal, loving, playing, cuddling, selves (or whatever is the norm for your cat), they’re likely fine.


If you notice any odd behavior, contact your vet to be sure there isn’t an issue resulting from you accidentally stepping on them.




Once you’ve determined your cat is not injured, you should show them some extra love (what’s the harm in that, right?).


If you’re typically very loving towards your cat, they’ll know that you didn’t mean to step on them, especially by your initial reaction of checking on them.


Although they may shy away for the first little bit, they’ll go back to normal quite quickly, as long as they’re not injured.


But cats always appreciate extra love, affection, and play time, so be sure to give that to them and reinforce that you’re sorry and didn’t mean to hurt them.


Often times, we’ve accidentally stepped on our cats when we’re in a rush. If you have to leave the house after checking to ensure they’re not injured, make a small gesture before you leave. You may offer them some of their favorite treats, or pull out their favorite blanket and make a nice cuddly spot for them on the couch. Be sure they understand you’re not angry with them before you leave the house.





Just as you react instinctively when you touch a hot stove, your cat is reacting instinctively when you step on them. No doubt, it does hurt them when a human steps on them, but sometimes their reaction is more out of being startled than injured (especially when you step on their tail, because it’s very sensitive).


Cats instinctive reactions to a threat are:

  • Yelling/screaming
  • Hissing
  • Puffing up
  • Running away
  • Hiding


These reactions are completely normal and don’t indicate anything is seriously wrong. Of course, they don’t rule out an injury either. But go by the indications in step 2 or under SIGNS YOU SHOULD TAKE YOUR CAT TO THE VET to determine if they are seriously injured; not by how loud they yelled.




Vet visits can be expensive but putting one off to save money can lead to bigger, more expensive problems down the road.


Call your veterinarian first and explain the situation to them, as well as if you’re hesitant to bring them in because of the expense. If you have a good vet, they should be able to work with you to find the most economical option without sacrificing your cat’s health.


Signs you should call your veterinarian or take them into the clinic are:

  • Limping
  • Crying
  • Excessively licking the area
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Change in litter box use
  • Hiding for extended periods of time
  • Low energy/less playful
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Difficulty breathing


You know your cat the best, so in general, watch for any behavior that seems even slightly out of the ordinary.


Cat’s obviously can’t use words to explain what they’re feeling, and they hide their injuries and illnesses well. It’s up to us, as good cat parents, to know their habits and watch their behaviour, and react when something seems off. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.





If you’ve accidentally stepped on your cat’s tail, check for any trauma to it. The signs may be that their tail is limp or bent, they cry when you touch it, it’s bleeding, or they may experience difficulty going to the washroom.


A cat’s tail is an important body part for their balance and control of their bowels. They do have bones in their tail so stepping on it can cause fractures, breaks, nerve damage, or even paralysis.


Your cat’s tail may be a bit limp immediately after stepping on it, but it should go back to normal fairly quickly if there’s no severe damage. If symptoms persist after a couple of hours, call your veterinarian to have them walk you through determining if your cat must come in for an examination or x-ray.


More info on tail trauma





When you’ve accidentally stepped on your cat’s foot, it will be important to check for any swelling or signs of fractured or broken bones. The area will naturally be sore after stepping on it, but if your cat limps, cries out when you touch their foot, or won’t walk within the first few hours after stepping on it, contact your veterinarian.





If you’ve accidentally stepped on your cat’s paw and it’s bleeding, apply pressure to the wound with a clean washcloth. If it’s still bleeding after 15 minutes, take your cat to the veterinarian clinic.


When the wound stops bleeding, clean the wound with a mild antiseptic solution or water, and gauze (never use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide because it’s too harsh for your cat’s skin and can cause damage to the tissue). Wrap some gauze around the cut and be sure not to wrap it too tightly; you don’t want to cut off their circulation.


In the following days, keep an eye on the cut and watch for signs of an infection; discharge, an abscess (lump under the skin), or your cat may even develop a fever.




I hope this has helped you determine next steps after accidentally stepping on your cat.


Accidentally Stepped on My Cat