12 Things You Didn’t Know About Cat Paws

Cats have been around for centuries and yet, there are still some things that we find out about them that retain their mystery. From being used as assistants in witchcraft, to being adored as deities in Egyptian mythology. 

Cats have been mystifying us for so long that even if they do something out of the blue, we still love and care for them as if they are our own children.

As humans have specific parts of the body, cats have sections that assist them in hunting prey to keep themselves clean. One part that is essentially endearing to all cat owners is their paw pads or also called cat toe beans. Who couldn’t resist those pink paws?

Cat hunt with paws

These cute cat paw pads are the reason why “cat’s paw” idiom came about; which is used to describe a person who was used by someone else without their knowledge. So, from the pinkish paws to black pads, let’s talk about these cute parts of our feline friends.

What are Paws

Cat paw anatomy includes soft parts of a mammal that they use as parts of their legs. They are made of thin, pigmented epidermis that covers the subcutaneous, collagenous, and adipose tissues which comprise the pads.

Below are the 12 surprising things you probably didn’t know about these cute body parts of your kitty:

The color of their paw pads would always follow the color of their furs

If your pet cat is under the solid color category, its paws will follow what its fur color is and this is applicable all throughout its body. If it has bi-colored fur, its paws would most definitely have two colors as well. For some breeds, the color oftentimes applies even to the color of the nose pads.

Be sure to check your feline’s pads if there are any changes to their color as it may indicate that something is wrong with them. Don’t let debris or dirt accumulate on its paws as they tend to dry the skin which may lead to infection.

This affects its claws in a way, as any dirt that accumulates on its paw pads hinders the claws to retract properly. They might end up chipped and may hurt your cat especially when it decides to scratch a hard surface.

Cats’ paw pads are extremely sensitive

This is due to a large number of nerve receptors that are mainly located in their paws. Since their pads serve as finely-tuned sensory organs that they use for balance and for hunting, it goes to say that they can also use their paw pads to feel the texture of the surface that they walk on. Their paws are also sensitive enough to even feel the vibration in the surface.

This is the reason why some kittens hiss or growl when their paws are rubbed incessantly by their owners.

Cat defense with its claws

Their paws are environmental thermometers

With their heightened sensitivity through their paw pads, it also detects the temperature of the surface that they walk on. Like dogs, it is advisable not to go for a walk if the sun is at its apex as it means that any stony surface that they will walk on will be very hot.

Imagine if you walk without any foot covering whatsoever on a hot surface. This is how it is if you insist on walking your cat when the ground is very hot.

If you get burned when you touch the road, then it means it’ll be too hot for your cat.

Paws are hiding places for their claws

As sheaths are to swords, paws are where cats’ claws retract to. Their claws would need to retract if they don’t need it, or else, they’ll scratch themselves. It would really be difficult if cats don’t have anything to protect their feet from their own claws as they are different from human nails.

Our nails grow out of our flesh, whereas, cats’ claws grow out of their bones. This is where the issue of “declawing” comes in. It is considered inhumane as there is a need to break the topmost part of their bones just to stop the claws from growing. This affects the cat to the point that it may affect the way it walks.

So if you’re thinking that claws are a disadvantage for you, think what will happen to your cat if you have its claws forcibly removed.

They help cats walk like ninjas

When cats walk, their hind paws would often follow the forepaws that they are parallel to as cats are digitigrade walkers – meaning, they walk on their toes. This lessens the noise they may make when they walk and minimizes visible tracks that they create. Their paw pads also serve as a good footing when they climb an uneven surface.

Cats’ paws serve as a hidden scent factory. With the help of sweat glands in their paw pads, they can leave scents in whatever they walk on or whatever they scratch. It helps them to mark their territories, especially if you own a lot of cats. More so when they scratch a particular pole, they leave their scent to let other cats or animals know that it is their territory.

These scent glands secrete pheromones that serve as calling cards for other animals or felines. These are like warning signs that they have to be careful or be aware of where they are. They also indicate if there is something wrong with your cat’s health.

It is interesting enough to note that humans and cats are alike when they sweat; that their sweat glands go into overdrive when they are nervous. This feeling is often included in the pheromones that they give out which become a warning signal for other cats.

Cats’ paws are their very own loofahs

Cats like to groom themselves and are often oblivious when they do it. Since they are afraid of water, they use their tongue along with their paws to clean themselves. This usually starts when they’re about four weeks old. Similar to the way we use loofahs to scrub ourselves when bathing; their paws scrub their fur to keep it clean.

Cat’s paw pads are often used to knead other cats or their owners. This is the reason why some cats are known to make great biscuits because of this kneading action. Their pads when they knead also serve to stimulate milk for female cats.

If your cats continuously knead you, it means they are happy and content to be with you; although it will be quite a challenge if your cat includes its claws when it massages you. This serves as leaving its pheromones on you – marking you as only its own.

Their paw pads become cushions

Cats have the ability to jump from a high-story building towards the ground without hurting themselves; thanks to their paws that always cushion their fall. Their paw pads serve as shock absorbers so that their legs won’t bear the brunt of the fall if they jump from a high place.

Cats’ paws can be affected by polydactylism

If a cat is a polydactyl, it means they have 5 to 7 toes per paw. This can be dangerous to your cats due to how their claws grow. It might cause an infection and essentially hurt your pets so be sure to consult a vet if your cat has polydactylism.

Don’t forget to always watch for any pawprints as it would indicate a lot about your cat. So when you determine or even suspect that your kitten pawprint seems to indicate that it may be a polydactyl, don’t hesitate to visit your vet immediately.

They were used before as a reminder of forgotten spell ingredients

As cats have been associated with witches, it is said that if you were trying to create a spell and you forget an item that you need, your cat will place its paw immediately on the ingredient that you need for your spell.

Cats were used to tell what the weather will be.

When your cat sleeps with all of its paws tucked under its body, it would indicate that the weather will turn cold. If it decides to scratch on furniture or anything that is made of wood, it means that you better prepare for an incoming storm.

Cats are considered lucky charms

Examples of this would be tortoiseshell cats as they were connected with the sun and moon. They were also regarded as good luck and money charms in ancient times.

Black cats aren’t exempted from this, even if they were considered bad luck before. Remember that black cats were worshipped in Egyptian culture and that there are still countries that regard them as luck despite of what is associated with the color of their fur.

No matter how simple or cute their paw pads may be, they still need us to take care of them. As their paws are hairless skin covering a thick mass of fat and tissue, we need to make sure their paws are clean and healthy.

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Kathy Hills
Kathy Hills

I have been an animal lover since I was a small child. My mother sold Watkins products in a small town in North Dakota and when delivering the product to people who lived on farms I would get out of the car first to distract the dog (most farms had at least one dog) for my mother (she was afraid of dogs) as she went to the door. I was her "dog decoy." I have worked with animals my entire adult life, mainly as a VET.

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