Cat paws are amazing. Stare at your cat’s paws and notice are different they are.
After this article, you may never look at cat paws the same way. Cat paws are a unique combination of characteristics that have helped them increase their chances of survival. They’ve been adapted to running, climbing, hunting, grooming, and are incredibly multi-functional. But did you know they can function as shock absorbers or regulate temperature? They are, in fact, one of the most sensitive parts of a cat’s body.
1. Have you noticed that cats have five toes on their front paws but only four toes on their rear paws? The extra toe in the front helps them to hold onto objects and dig into them, whereas the rear paws are stronger and help with jumping.
Here are 10 more Fascinating Facts about Cat Paws
2. Cats walk tiptoed
They actually run through most of their lives this way, because it makes them quicker while being able to extend their stride. The technical term is digitigrades, those who run on their toes. When cats are hunting, walking and running tiptoed helps them keep quieter on their feet so their prey can’t detect them. This trait has helped cats evolve as supreme hunters.
3. Cats can be left handed or right handed
Just like people can be left or right handed, cats can have dominant sided paws. They can prefer to use one more often than the other when performing specific tasks. Male cats have been found to use their right paw more often, while female cats have been found to use their left more often. Find out which side is dominant in your cat’s paws by giving them a challenging activity such as fishing treats out of a barely reachable area.
4. Paws act make good shock absorbers
Cat paws are soft and multi-functional, so this is a natural feature for any hunter. Their paw pads soften all landings and let them walk on rough and weedy grounds. Having this softer movement helps cats move and hunt quietly.
5. Paws regulate temperature
Cat paws can act as a cooling system. They can sweat from their paws to protect them from hot surfaces and over-hearing. If cats are stressed or scared, they can sweat from the bottom of their paws. Next time, you may notice footprints your cat is leaving behind when they are uneasy or nervous.
6. Cat paws help with communication
Cats have scent glands located between the paw pads that help them mark territory and pass information to other cats and animals. You may find them scratching objects to claim an area or to share information about themselves. The hind paws have scent glands as well. You will often see cats scratch areas with their hind paws after they’ve peed. Cats leave pheromones as calling cards wherever they go.
7. Cat’s paws are extremely sensitive.
The pads on their paw have a large concentration of nerve receptors so that they can feel vibrations and textures through the ground. These extra senses help them evaluate their environment when hunting prey, and also help with balance. If you’ve ever wondered just how sensitive they are, just fiddle with their paws and watch them run away. Keep in mind that paw pads are not insulated and can be too sensitive to some elements, such as temperature and pressure.
Cats have unique behavior when they ‘massage’ their paws against soft objects when they are satisfied. They will sometimes find a soft spot and just start kneading against it, eager to show their happiness. Their paws are sensitive and test for temperature, safety, and texture.
8. Cat paws vary wildly in color and pattern
Patterns and colors of paws usually match the color of a cat’s fur patterns. The pigments that make up the skin also make up the fur. In general, light-colored cats have light colored paw pads, gray colored cats have grey colored paw pads, and tuxedo cats have black spots on theirs.
Does your cat have any unusual patterns on their paws?
9. Cat paws are flexible
Paws are a cat’s primary hunting tool. Cats can climb trees and hunt mice with ease because their paws can bend and turn inward. When the front paws turn in, and claws sink into branches, cats get added stability when climbing. They can easily turn and pull themselves around a branch quickly.
Cats are great at climbing trees, but not so great and getting back down. Their claws were designed for climbing upward against gravity, so they do not get the same support when descending downwards. Their front legs are also much weaker than their back legs, so cats sometimes get too afraid to climb down, and they end up getting stuck in trees.
10. Cats use paws for grooming
Cats use their paws as grooming tools, all four of them. Their front paws are great for brushing, whereas their rear paws can reach those hard to get places, such as behind the ears, under the chick, and on the neck. Cats first lick their paws several times and then apply their saliva to the area that they couldn’t directly lick. Cats will re-wet their paws and repeat until their ‘bath’ is complete. They will continuously do this as cats like to stay clean.
Did you know all of these facts before finishing the article? Cat Paws are one of our favorite topics; they do so much more than we think. And remember, please take care of your pet and be watchful for any signs of irritated paws. If they become swollen, bleed, ulcerated, or scaly, considering seeing a vet.
Let us know any comments you have about cat paws!