On a closer look, the cat paws look very cute and soft. Most of us would have been tempted at least once to touch and feel the soft looking paws, especially the front ones. These furry little cat paws are a truly amazing and crucial part of the cats body. Other than being colorful and attractive, the cat paws are very versatile and help perform certain job that increases the cat’s odds of survival. Did you know that a cat uses its paws to communicate, check the surrounding environment, hunt, and groom and even regulate the body temperature? The cat paws also acts as shock absorbers when they jump from a higher place.
The following is the list of very interesting facts about cat paws and their pads and how well they utilize them.
1. Cats have dominant paws
Were you aware that cats have dominant front paws? Various studies conducted on cat paws have differed that they are left, right or ambidextrous, but they have agreed to the fact that cats have paw preferences especially when they have to deal with certain challenging tasks. One such study conducted by the Queens University in Ireland, have found the paw dominance to the gender of the feline. The male cats preferred to use their right paws more and the female cats preferred to use their left paw more. You can check your cats preferred paw by giving them a challenging task at home, like fetching a toy or treat from hard to reach areas. Even fetching a toy or a treat from a bowl of water can be pretty challenging for cats. To get a correct reading or understanding of your cat’s paw preference, the task needs to be performed at least 75 times and hope that your feline friend will co-operate. But, when there is a treat involved in the challenge we can always hope for a lot of co-operation from these furry little friends.
2. Cats are tiptoed
Many people do not know that cats walk on the tips of their toes. They are also called Digitigrades. They in fact navigate by using the tippy toes. The reason why cats walk tiptoed is that it gives them a good chance of survival allowing them to garner speed when they have to run away or to suddenly attack the prey. Foots of cats touch the surface very less, that’s why cats experience less friction and helps conserve upward energy. Digitigrade animals like cats are very fast runners. Whenever a cat walks or runs they retract their claws into sheaths, leaving behind just the smooth, small toes and footpad. This is the reason cats can tiptoe just near us without making any noise. When a cat tiptoes, it becomes easier for them to stalk their prey without alerting them. Walking and running on their toes allows them to increase their speed, cover long distances with a short burst of energy. Even animals like foxes and dogs are also tiptoed, just like cats. So whenever you notice an animal next time make sure to notice their feet, it gives a complete understanding about how the animal moves and it talks a lot about its ancestors.
3. Cat paws are sensitive
Cats have very sensitive paws. This is one of the reasons why they don’t enjoy people touching or fiddling with them. If you try touching their paws, there is always a chance of your cat biting or scratching you. They may even run away. The cat’s paws are well wired, which means they have very fine-tuned sensory organs needed to hunt and balance effectively.
The cat paws contain nerve receptors that aid in hunting. Cats can literally feel the world through their paw pads. Felines knead against the soft surfaces when they are elated and satisfied. They can feel the vibrations, pressure and texture that are extremely needed to track down a prey. Sensitive cat paws can create a lot of difficulties for cats. Extreme sensitivity in their paws pads makes the life of our feline friends sometimes difficult. The paw pads are sensitive to environment changes, which includes temperature fluctuations and pressure. Since the paw pads are not insulated, cats experience a lot of pain and discomfort. Extreme cold, frozen sidewalks, ragged surfaces, hot and other surfaces can harm the cat’s paws and cause severe damage.
4. Cat paws are very flexible
Cat paws are incredibly flexible. Flexibility allows them to bend and turn their paws a lot while doing various activities throughout their life. The flexibility allows them to climb trees, walk on compound walls, chase their prey and even hunt them down. A flexible paw helps them to maintain their stability and allows them to pull them up on the branches. It’s only because of this flexibility that cats can survive in the human world without much difficulty. Cat’s front paws can turn inwards when required; this enables the cat to sink in their claws into a tree allowing them to climb the tree without any effort.
5. Cats paws act as shock absorbers
This feature helps the cat to climb the tree with a lot of ease, but getting down the tree can be very difficult. This is why we see cats choosing to go down the tree backwards. Cats cannot come down the tree facing downwards because their front claws face the wrong direction, which makes it difficult for them to get down head facing first. The front legs and paws of the cat are weaker compared to the hind legs. The hind legs are more muscular allowing them to leap and jump up in the air when they have to.
The cat’s paws are excellent shock absorbers. The cat paws are also great shock and sound absorbers. The paw pads of the cats have the ability to cushion and soften the landings, especially from trees or walls during their hunting trails. It cushions the cats landing especially on rough surfaces. The shock absorbers come handy when they are moving around and hunting. The shock absorbers work when the cat falls from great heights. They also absorb any noise while walking or running around, making these animals good and silent hunters. The soft and multi-tasking cat paws make their movement smooth without any sounds thats why we never hear cats walking even if they may be just near or behind you.
When falling from heights the paw pads absorbs great amount of force once it hits the ground. The cat extends its legs and arches it back allowing it to land properly on its legs and the shock absorber on the paws reduces the impact of the landing. The risk of injury is also reduced to a large extent when cats fall from great heights.
6. Cat Paws are used for Grooming
Most of us have noticed cats constantly grooming with their paws effectively. This is the most common sight if you have a cat at home. The front paws and the forelegs are used by the cats as a perfect grooming tool. This allows the cat to reach those areas of their body where otherwise it would be impossible, like the chin, around the face and behind the ears. Cats wash themselves by first licking their paw and then licking the area they want to clean. After the initial wipes, the cat pauses to lick and moisten their paws again. This process goes on until the cat is happy with the final result. Cat grooming with their paws is a sight that makes you feel that your cat is relaxed and want to have some quite time. Kittens start the self washing process when they are four weeks old.
7. Cats sweat through their paws
Do cats sweat through their paws? Yes, you will notice little wet spots on your floor where your cat has walked, which is an indication that cats sweat through their paws. The feline’s sweat glands are only found in the paw pads. The cat paws secrete sweat when they are feeling hot or are frightened. A cat sweats more through their paws due to fear and you must have noticed this when you take them to a vet for examination. To cool itself the cat resorts to panting or licking their fur. But, unlike dogs, the cat panting is related to stress while the dogs panting is more due to heat. Although the cat is a desert animal and adapts itself to the hot and humid weather excellently, they still need to cool themselves. Sweating paws prevents the cat’s body from overheating especially when the weather is extremely hot.
8. Cat paws are used for communication
Cats use their paws extensively to communicate with other animals or cats. Cats are seen scratching objects to mark their territory and to broadcast any information. Cats use the paws to communicate when they scratch the things or items around the house. The cat’s paw pads contain scent glands and when they scratch any surface they leave pheromones behind. The pheromones contain the entire message which these other cats or animals pickup. The scent gland is present both on their front as well as their hind legs. The scent on the objects is full of information about the scratcher. Cats also scrape the areas after they have sprayed or urinated.
9. Cat paws vary in color
Did you know that cat paw pad color is related to the color of their coat? A black colored cat will have black colored paw pads, white colored cat will have their paw pads in light pink shade, orange colored cats have orange paw pads, and tabbies may have sometimes brick red or grey paw pads. If your cat is multi-colored there is always a chance that the cat’s paw pads will be multi-colored.
Cats that come in solid colored coat have the color of their paw pads matching that of their nose leather. This is the same with certain pure breds. Tuxedo colored cats have paw pads with black colored spots. The prime reason for this being the pigments that form the color of their fur is the same one that colors the skin.
10. Cat paws come in different shapes and sizes
Humans have unique finger prints, but in case of cats they do not have unique prints like humans. They do vary between the breeds. Cats will have different shapes and size for their paws depending on the breed. Oriental type cats like the Siamese have oval shaped and delicate feet. On the other hand, the Maine Coon cats have broad and bigger paws that go along well with the cat’s body. In some breeds, cats are born with extra toes. This is caused due to a genetic abnormality called as polydactyl. Any cat with more than five toes in the front pads and four toes in the hand legs qualifies as polydactyl. This is a genetic inheritance and not a handicap. Instead, these cats take this as a positive feature and leverage the extra thumb to increase dexterity. These cats may have eight toes on the pad instead of the five toes, which is normally found in cats.
11. Cat paws can tell the cats temperature
Cat paws can tell the cat’s body temperature according to a report in Japan. A lot of cat owners in Japan check if the cat is healthy or running temperature by just checking their paws. Firstly, cats don’t like anyone touching their paw pads since that area is extremely sensitive. But, even if you somehow get to touch their pads and feel the temperature of the pads, you can check if the cat is having fever or not. When the paw pads are warm or hot, it is a sign of fever according to the report. This seems very interesting, but cat owners in Japan have been following this routine for some time now. A hot paw pad means time to take your cat to the Vet immediately. Early detection will help save the cats health from any serious ailment if left untreated.
12. Cat paws reveals the character of the cat
Just like palm reading for humans, the shape and markings on the cats paws reveals all the character quirks to the feline fates. The dewclaw of the cat reveals the life line, the first digital pad on the right tells a lot about the luck of the cat, the second pad tells about the intelligence of the feline, the third pad tells about the love, and the fourth pad tells about the appetite.
The cool exterior of the cat is always there is to see, but if you want to see what goes beneath this exterior, then you may have to look under the paws to get all the answers to the character of your cat. The cat paw reading is just like the palm reading for humans.
13. Cat paws are unique like a fingerprint
On a closer look, the cat’s paws tend to have tiny grooves that are similar to the fingerprints found in humans. Cat paws have been used to open an iphone 5s. The finger print authentication feature in the new iphone5s has been successfully tested by the cats. The phone has approved and authenticated their paw prints. This proves that cat paws are uniquely individual and that cats have the ability to handle complex software. You just need to register the cat’s paws onto the phones software and then no other cat will be able to unlock the iphone. A unique concept of paws used for authentication.
14. Cat paws are a housing for claws
Claws are a part of the cat paw. The claws have a unique function. The cat claw allows them to climb, dig, defend, grip, fight back, and even attack their prey. The cat’s paw pads acts like a shock absorber when they fall from high trees or walls. The thick paw pads insulate the feet of the cat and serves as the housing for the retracted claws.
15. Cat paws need care and attention
Cats need healthy paws to run, climb, fight back, and scratch and to hunt. That’s why it is important to keep them healthy and strong by conducting regular checkups at the vet. The paws should be kept wound free and check for any cuts and infections. Dirt, litter and household chemicals should be kept away from cats so that they don’t soil their paws. Unhealthy and dirty stuff may get stuck to the cat’s pads and land into their mouth while grooming leading to diseases and various ailments. Check between the cat’s toes and around the pad for any foreign substances. Any cuts and bruises should be immediately tended to.
A cat’s paw is irresistible for any cat lover and when you look carefully, the paw pads look like a teddy bear. To keep your cat hale and healthy you need to monitor and care for the cat paws on a regular basis. Any sudden change or injury on the pads should not be taken lightly. Make sure you take them to the nearest vet as soon as possible if you notice anything unusual.