They’re cushy, cute, and oh-so-colorful… Cat paws are dozens of things to felines. But did you know that there is more to these adorable toe beans than what meets the eye?
Most cats usually have 18 toes on their paws but polydactyl cat paws usually have 6 to 7 toes, totaling 28 and sometimes more! And you know what this means – more scrubbers or loofah-like grooming tools to keep them nice and clean. In some cases, these paws even come in multiple colors – black, pink, gray, and sometimes a combination of all these!
Discover these 27 fun facts about cat paws. After learning more about what toe beans really do for a cat, you’ll never look at these the same way again!
27. Paws Are Color-Coordinated
From the moment your kitty is born, it already has some serious style. Just take a look at its paws, and you will notice that they match your precious baby’s fur and nose. So if you’ve got a white cat with a pink nose, it’s got pink paws to match. Pretty cool!
Black cats have black paws, ginger cats have pink paws. And in the case of tricolor felines, their paws come in a variety of colors – and always perfectly coordinated.
26. Front Paws Have More “Digits” Than The Back Paws
If you check your cat’s paws carefully, you’ll notice a tiny extra toe on the front. Unless we’re looking at polydactyl cat paws (more on that in a bit), there are usually 5 toes on each front paw then 4 on each back paw.
These two extra “digits” are quite like a human’s thumb, also called dewclaws. Their thumbs aren’t just for show. They come in handy when tossing around a toy or a small animal they have caught.
25. Temperature Impacts Cat Paws
Deep inside a cat’s paws are nerves that can be quite sensitive to various temperatures… Just like the tips of your fingers. This temperature sensitivity is even likened to a primate and humans.
Cats can easily detect differences in temperature using their paws. So if they are stepping on something cool, warm, or just right, their paws can always tell the difference.
24. Paws Are Great For Kneading
A feline’s tendency to knead goes way back its kitty years, when feeding from its mama. But they carry on this habit even as adults. Although it’s not anymore for the purpose of getting milk during nursing, kneading is simply an expression of happiness and contentment.
These are what cat paws serve as – kneading and massaging tools. When you see your purring feline jump up on your lap, expect to witness some kneading action to follow.
23. Cats Show Aggression With Their Paws
If you have ever observed cats when they fight, you will notice one interesting thing they do – they use their paws to bat each other. Paws may be squishy but these are also weapons for fighting!
Cats flash their paws – including their claws – to show aggression to their opponents. Once you see them do this with another feline, it’s basically saying, “I’m ready to rumble!”
22. Cats Have A More Dominant Paw
Just like humans, cats also have a paw preference or a more dominant paw. They may prefer to use their left, right, or even both paws more when doing their activities.
Perhaps you may want to test your cat and see which paw is more dominant. Try tossing your kitty some treats and see which paw it uses to get a hold of it. Be sure to put it in an area that’s hard to reach and watch your feline fish it out with either left or right paw.
21. A Cat’s Paws Are Hunting Tools
Paws are a lot of things to a cat, and one of their functions is for hunting. Felines chase and stalk their prey with their paws, and that helps them catch their target.
But aside from their paws, kitties also count on their sharp claws to finish off their hunting task. Once they have the prey under their paws, they claw them to make sure it can’t escape!
20. Cat Paws Are Prone To Sun Damage
Previously, we mentioned that paws are very sensitive to temperature. No wonder it is prone to damage from the sun and soreness when exposed to heat.
Think of it as burning your fingers when you touch something really hot. But for cats, it’s even worse. Since they depend on their paws for walking, a sore paw is no fun to romp around with.
19. Paws Hide A Cat’s Claws
This is one of the coolest fun facts about cat paws – they act as sheaths for claws! Unless it’s a cheetah, felines have retractable claws. They usually hide these weapons in their paws until they’re ready for some serious hunting or scratching action.
When cats are relaxed and resting, their claws are safely hidden in their paws. Otherwise, they might accidentally scratch themselves or blow their cover when their claws make loud noises as they walk and stalk their prey.
18. Cat Paws Are Flexible
Just as good quality sneakers and running shoes have flexible soles, so do cat paws! These paws are so flexible that these allow cats to climb up tall structures and maintain their stability. When climbing trees, these paws turn inward and dig the claws right into the branches. It’s like wearing spike shoes!
But there’s one caveat – paws are good for climbing but not for descending since their claws are turned in the wrong direction. No wonder cats sometimes need to be rescued when stuck up in a tree.
17. Cat Paws Are Sensors
Paws are so irresistibly squishy, some people just can’t help but to squeeze them. But unfortunately, cats don’t like getting their paws squished. With several nerve receptors in these paws, it is quite uncomfortable to the touch.
Cute as they may be, cat paws are highly sensitive to pressure. With this in mind, it is best to keep your kitty’s toe beans alone.
16. Paws Have Scent Glands
We’ve already covered why paws are used for kneading. But another thing behind the kneading is that these paws release some kind of scent unique to each feline. These scent glands are found deep in their paws, kind of like a thumbprint.
So, each time your cat kneads on your lap or just about anything, it means two things – it is content and happy, and your pet is marking its territory.
15. Cats Walk On Their Toes… Or Paws
If there is one thing that dinosaurs and cats have in common, it’s the way they walk. They are both digitigrades or creatures that walk on their tippy toes. This explains why they don’t make a single sound when they walk.
Every step is done stealthily, thanks to these paws. It sure comes in handy when they are stalking a prey or escaping from a predator.
14. Cat Paws Are Smelly
By “smelly”, we don’t really mean “stinky.” Instead, these paws simply have a certain scent or odor. But it may stink up, too, especially after just being in the litter box or treading on something nasty outdoors!
As their paws have scent glands concealed within the grooves, this allows felines to mark their territory and claim it as theirs through their scent. So, whether they are kneading or scratching their kitty tree, your pet is basically saying, “This is mine!”
13. A Cat’s Gender Impacts Its Paw Preference
Previously, we have mentioned that cats have paw preferences or more dominant paw. But there’s more to it than simply preferring one paw over another. Their choice is actually impacted by their gender!
In a study conducted by researchers in Queen’s University in Northern Ireland, it showed how gender affects such paw preference. Females usually have a more dominant right paw while males are “lefties.” It is not always applicable to all cats, though, so it would be fun to see which paw preference your pet has!
12. Cat Paws Are Communication Tools
When a cat scratches something such as a tree, a box, or your favorite couch, its main intention is not to cause damage but to merely communicate. Think of it as leaving their signature on these areas they have scratched.
In addition, they also use their paws to scrape an object that they have sprayed or peed on. What this means is that they are leaving some kind of a message to another feline. Talk about a cool way to send a secret message!
11. Paws Are Great Shock-Absorbers
Ever wondered why cats can land unhurt even after descending from a tall place? That’s all thanks to the shock-absorbing power of their paws.
But that’s not all that paws do – they also reduce the impact and make each fall as silent as possible. What a stealthy way to go unnoticed by their unsuspecting prey!
10. There Is Such A Thing As Paw Arthritis
Cats do have long lives but that does not mean they are immune to pain and health problems. One of the most common ones is paw arthritis, which attacks certain adult and senior felines.
One way to easily tell if your cat has this issue is by observing the way it walks. If your kitty licks their paws and joints frequently, it’s possible that these areas are quite painful. Walking can also be uncomfortable and limping may be observed, as well.
9. Press The Paws To Trim A Cat’s Nails
When it’s time to trim your kitty’s nails, they tend to make it hard for you by hiding them the best they can. But did you know there’s an easy hack to quickly reveal these sharp weapons?
Press your cat’s paws, and voila – this extends the claws to their maximum length. Then, you can start snipping away as gently and as carefully as possible without putting up a fight with your pet.
8. Ligers Have The Largest Paws
A cat’s paws come in different sizes, just like a human’s fingers can be longer or shorter in some people. And when it comes to cats with the largest paws, this is none other than the liger.
This hybrid cat that has the genes of a lion and a tiger has massive paws enough to scare away a teeny tiny prey. If their paws are huge, just image how long their claws must be…
7. Rusty Spotted Cats Have The Smallest Paws
So if ligers have the biggest paws, the Rusty Spotted Cat is on the other end of the spectrum. As these felines are relatively small, so are their paws. In fact, they are smaller than the average domesticated cat even when they have fully matured as adults.
A wild cat found in Asia, Rusty Spotted cats are not suitable as pets. They are better left in their natural habitats where they can thrive and live in peace.
6. Paws Can Grip Food
When cats grip on something they don’t always rely on their claws to make it happen. Their paws are also good gripping tools.
They can grasp a bottle (just like in the video above) or even pick up some kibble with its paw. Felines either establish contact between paw and food while others simply keep their paw on the food surface. Either way, it’s a pretty cool gripping action and all credits to these squish beans.
5. Cats Get Sweaty Paws
Not many people may know this but cats actually sweat… On their paws! There are sweat glands in these paws, so it is not surprising if you find them to be a bit moist in certain circumstances.
Cat paws tend to sweat when your feline is frightened, stressed, or anxious. Cuddle your pet or stroke them gently to alleviate the anxiety or stress.
4. A Cat’s Paws Are Very Sensitive
Sensors, shock absorbers, kneading tools… There are so many things that a cat paw can do. Plus, your feline walks on its paws, too. No wonder it can be vulnerable to stress and pain.
As a mom or dad of a cat, be sure to make it a habit to check your kitty’s paws daily. Look for cuts or signs of soreness to make sure these toe beans are perfectly OK all the time.
3. Some Paws Are Multicolored
It is not just your feline’s coat that comes in different colors. Their paws have an assortment of colors and designs, too!
These adorable paw pads may be gray, black, pink, or various shades of those colors. In some cases, you may even find a combination of these colors on a cat’s paws.
2. Paws Are Like Loofahs
As grooming aficionados, cats are equipped with personal cleaning tools – their tongue and paws. Both are effective in getting rid of grime and dirt, thanks to their loofah-like design.
It always starts with cats licking their paw then using it to scrub their head, nose, and ears. These tiny scrubbers are quite handy for grooming not only themselves but even their young ones.
1. Some Cats Have Extra Toes
Polydactyl cat paws, or having 6 or 7 toes on one paw, is actually not very uncommon. Although usually cats only have 5 toes on each paw, they can have more than that and it doesn’t mean anything wrong with them.
In fact, there’s such a thing as Hemingway cats, found in Key West, in Florida. These are 6-toed polydactyl white cats that all descended from the original 6-toed kitty named Snow White. That’s definitely something to check out the next time you set foot in that part of the world!
Why Do Cats Not Like Their Paws Being Touched? Cat paws are very sensitive because of the nerve receptors hidden deep within them. This is why it can be uncomfortable for your cat each time you press, touch, or play with their paws.
Why Do Cats Put Their Paw On You? There are scent glands in the cats’ paws, which are used as communication tools or for marking their territory. So when cats put their paw on you, they are transferring some of these scents on you. It is their way of saying you belong to them.
Why Do Cats Have 6 Paw Pads? Cats have a bigger paw on the center, which counts as their 6th paw pad. This carpal pad is only found on their front paws, which serve as a shock absorber each time they jump.