Cats are pretty amazing, and one of the cutest (and most animated) things about your cat is their squishy padded feet.
If you ever rub your feline’s feet, they may try to pull them back from you or fold their paws. The reason for this is that those cute padded feet are pretty sensitive.
Cats’ paws aren’t just cute; they are an essential part of your cat and have important purposes.
Cats use their paws for more than just walking; they can use them to communicate and scratch. Their paws also absorb shock from a jump, sweat off the heat, and feel vibrations.
Cats are quiet and fast, and it’s all because of those glorious, soft feet. Their feet are the reason they can survive and be such excellent hunters.
They are fast and agile, and it’s all because of those paws we long to rub all the time.
Cats And Their Paws
Just like the whiskers on a cat’s face, their toes are one of the most sensitive body parts.
Most cats have 18 toes; they have four on each paw and one dewclaw on the front ones. There are a few cat breeds that have 22 toes in all.
Though the pads of their feet may feel extra soft, they can also be quite tough. Cats’ pads help them with walking on hot pavement and across different surfaces without feeling pain.
They also use the pads of their feet to feel, evaluate, and test the ground before they venture onward.
Each cat is born with retractable claws in those paws. They use their claws for scratching, climbing, and sometimes for killing. In other words, cats use their feet for so much more than just walking.
Scratching to Communicate
Cats use their paws and claws to communicate with other cats in your neighborhood. Have you ever seen your cat scratch a tree or the ground?
There is a reason for this behavior, and you are sure to notice it if they scratch your favorite couch.
Cats’ paws have glands in between the toes that exude a scent. Besides seeing the actual scratch marks on a tree, they leave behind their distinct odor.
Scratching marks their territory and tells other cats they are close.
You will not be able to smell their scent, but it is sure to send a message to other cats. Cats need and use their paws to communicate, so make sure they have a few things they can scratch.
Cats’ Paws Are Shock Absorbers
Your cat may not like you touching their feet due to having a rough fall. Their feet are often, no surprise, a cushion when landing after a jump.
Cats are excellent jumpers and often land on their feet which end up taking quite a hit.
Their feet also work as mufflers. There is a reason you can’t hear your cat walk across the ground or floor. The pads make them stealthy and excellent at running and hunting without a sound.
Cats are fantastic jumpers, but if a misstep occurs, the pads of their feet take the impact. Since they are as sensitive as they are, it can cause their feet to feel more than you know.
The pads can feel better with time, but your cat still doesn’t want you to touch their paws.
Cats Sweat Through Their Paws
Cats are not like dogs’ a dog can keep cool by panting and use its ears to cool off. You may see your cat pant rarely, but the only way your cat can sweat is through its paws.
As stated before, their feet have glands, and this is the only place on your cat with sweat glands.
Like for people, sweating cools down the body and regulates your body temperature.
So you may discover a trace that your cat has walked through your house as they leave some sweaty pawprints. Sweating is a sign that your cat may be too hot.
Another reason your cat sweats is that they can have emotions, and it affects them just like you.
You may see their sweaty footprints if they are anxious or scared. Due to the stress, they react, and it comes out of their paws.
Feeling Those Good Vibrations
Cats tend to walk on their tiptoes. Their paws make them quieter and also helps with feeling a variety of vibrations undertow.
Since they are constantly on the prowl, they use all their senses to find their next snack. Their feet act like sensors and use the nerve receptors in their toes to feel the ground as they walk.
They can feel the slightest vibration from a bug to a mouse which puts your cat on high alert. Along with the vibrations, they can detect different pressures and textures.
Since your cat has sensitive receptors on their feet, along with their face, they use both to investigate their environment. But this is also a primary reason why cats do not like their paws being touched.
They are sensitive to so much, even the pressure of your touch sends their nerves into a frenzy.
Do Cats Have A Paw Preference?
Did you know that your cat, like you, can be right or left-hand dominant?
Your cat can have a preference on which paw they prefer to use. They can choose which paw they use to clean, eat with, or scratch with.
A fun fact about a cat is that your cat has the same skin color as its fur. That means if their fur is Calico or multi-colored, then their paws will be too. Their skin, though sensitive, can be just as unique as them.
The pads on their paws have a texture like a scouring pad that they use for their daily beauty routines.
With your cat cleaning themselves for hours during the day, their built-in loofah allows for a thorough clean. Their pads are like a scrubbing sponge that helps with efficiently cleaning their face.
How To Care For Your Cat’s Paws
Your cat’s paws are important and play a vital role in how your cat functions and plays. Even though your cat can clean themselves, they may need a hand here and there with their grooming.
To ensure your cat’s paws are in optimal health, you may need to assist in keeping them clean.
One way may be cleaning and wiping their feet off. Using a damp cloth, you can clean between their toes and pads to ensure no dirt or debris irritates them.
Also, use all-natural cleaning products on your floor to make sure it doesn’t cause any irritation.
A second way may be that they need their claws trimmed. Trimming them can manage the length and sharpness of their claws and may save your couch from harsh scratch marks.
Their paws and claws are essential to their survival and happiness, and taking care of them increases their health.
A third and final way to keep your kitty-cat’s paws free and clear is to groom them regularly. Grooming your cat helps them to maintain their fur and keep them clear of fleas and parasites.
Avoiding fleas and filth helps to maintain a healthy and clean lifestyle.
Why do cats knead their paws?
Cats do quite a few things to show they are content. One of these things they do to you if they are happy is kneading you with their paws.
They stretch and grab with their toes in such a way as they seem to massage you.
Cats don’t wag their tails like dogs, so purring and kneading are ways to show their love and happiness. They may also knead you to wake you up for food or to show their appreciation for you.
Cats are known for their cute paws, and kneading those cute paws is their way of communicating.
Why do cats like walking on the dirt?
Cats, as a rule, do not like walking on anything sharp or jagged. Since their feet are so sensitive and full of nerves, they tend to avoid certain surfaces.
You can see your cat avoid harsh surfaces and walk on gravel and leaves.
Their feet love the feel of dirt. The soft gravel has an appealing feel to the pads of your cat’s paws. It is important to make sure your cat has soft ground and grass to walk on to avoid irritation.
Why do cats’ paws smell?
The smell of your cat’s feet may smell like the outside or like Fritos. Their feet have glands that release pheromones and scents, which can also give off a yeasty smell.
The odor you may smell is not uncommon and is a sign of a typical, healthy kitty-cat. The smell is completely normal and necessary as your cat carries certain fungi and bacteria on its skin.
Typically their smelly feet are fine, but if you smell a strong odor, you may want to watch it closely. If cleaning your cat’s paws does not seem to help you may need to schedule a visit with your vet.
Stacy is a lifelong animal lover who truly believes life just isn’t complete without pets. She’s had pets her whole life (including three dogs and a cat living under the same roof, somewhat harmoniously). She currently resides in NOLA with her husband, son, and two pups, Scooby “Dooby” Doo and Zoey. Stacy always makes a point to learn everything she can about her fur babies, and she has been writing about the pet-parent life for over two years.