My vet advised having an X-ray taken of my cat's paw after she was stomped upon by my reckless neighbor who I am not speaking with anymore. She is always coming to drink my coffee and take my food, but will not even watch for my dearest kitty when walking around.

Anyway, after talking with my vet we concluded that my cat should get an X-ray of her paw. Initially, I said yes and made an appointment to do it, but later I started thinking about it and now I am worried if X-ray is safe for cats.

I know that X-rays advanced over the course of years and that they are safe for humans, but what about cats? I read on various places like here X-ray for cats that it is generally considered safe and that pros far outweigh the cons.

Meaning what? It is safe, but there are chances that it could hurt my cat?

If there are chances, no matter how small, I will be anxious to do this because the cat is walking without any problems.

However, I would like to hear some other opinions before asking my vet further about this, as I am afraid that I am just overthinking this and making it worse than it is... Thank you everyone in advance for your replies!

  • 1
    Keep in mind that legally, you can't state that there's no risk to X-rays. But just because the risk is not zero, doesn't mean that it isn't negligible. For X-rays on humans, the issues only occur when you get exposed to several thousand x-ray's worth of radiation. Cats are smaller, so the number is likely lower, but the same principle should apply here. The risks of Xrays are mentioned to prevent people from taking Xrays for no good reason. If a good reason exists, that pretty much always outweighs the negligible impact of having an Xray taken.
    – Flater
    Nov 20 '17 at 16:27

Yes, taking an X-ray is perfectly safe, the output (radiation) is far too low to cause cancer or other dangerous changes in the body.

Radiation is everywhere: the Sun, the Earth, even from natural chemicals in the body. One X-ray is usually equal to or less than the amount of radiation acquired just from living on Earth.

From Harvard Health:

The dose of radiation received per diagnostic scan is measured in millisieverts (mSv). We are all exposed to some amount of natural radiation from the sun, from the earth, and even from some natural chemicals in our body. The average natural background radiation in the United States is 3.7 mSv per year. A simple chest X-ray (two views) exposes a person to an average of 0.01 mSv, or roughly the amount of radiation you get in a day from the natural background.

Radiology Info has a lovely comparison chart.

Note: The studies provided are based on human medicine; however, they are very much comparable to our cats and dogs.

If your cat's paw was severely damaged in some way (broken bones), she would favor it, even on good analgesics. Keep an eye out for swelling and limping; if it persists, an X-ray should be taken to determine treatment.

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