Why Do Cats Shake Their Paws? (Find Out Now!)

Why Do Cats Shake Their Paws?

Did you know that your friendly feline has sensitive feet? Their paws, along with their face, can be one of the most sensitive parts of their bodies. Numerous nerves run from the toes to the pads; just touching your cat’s paw can make them pull it back.

Cats shake their paws for many reasons, and some are more obvious than others. Some of these reasons may be to remove dirt, dry their paws, relieve pain, bathroom antics, or allergies. Almost all of the reasons listed are not major issues and do not require major attention. 

Paw shaking may look like a cute twitch, but your cat can shake their paws for more than one reason. As a cat owner, you know your feline friend.  Therefore, by watching your pet closely, you might be able to figure out the cause.

Why Is Your Cat Shaking Their Paws?

Most cats are outdoor felines that love to roam and ravage the great wilderness of your backyard. Though they prefer easy, clean surfaces, they have been known to return home quite filthy. Sand, grass, leaves, and debris can get jammed in those cute toes and cause your cat to shake it free. 

As stated before, your cat’s paws are sensitive, and any small amount of dirt can make them twitch. Dirt has a tendency to get up under the nails and between the toes. Some cats push out and retract their claws while climbing trees and catching a delicious little snack. 

Paw shaking is a simple fix to a small problem your cat may face if they venture outside. Even house cats love to play in potted plants and can experience a similar sensation. Just because your cat is an indoor cat does not mean that they can not be a bit of a mess.

Shaking their paws, besides getting rid of dirt, could be an emotional response. Your cat may be excited or nervous. A paw shake can be a sign that your cat is happy to see you, similar to rubbing against your legs. Or, your kitty could be anxious about something, like a trip to the vet.

Do Cats Shake To Dry Off?

It is not unheard of that many cats aren’t that fond of water. A wet cat can make for a very unhappy cat. For cats stepping in a puddle of water inside or out may cause the infamous shake.

Undoubtedly, there’s a large number of funny videos of cats shaking water off after they fall in a tub. Some cats even play in water and will splash around in it. Cats may shake a bit to dry their fur, but a warm spot in the sun is their favorite.

However, if left on a cat’s paw, water can irritate between the toes and pads of the feet. When wet, the sensitive nerves on their feet send a message to their brain to signal this irritation. Shaking the water free, licking, and shaking again can help your cat find a solution to their water encounter.

Why Does A Cat Shake Their Feet After Jumping?

Cats are known for their agility and the ability to land on their feet. Just because they can land on their feet does not mean that it does not hurt or cause an injury. Much like humans, many animals can have a misstep that causes them pain.

If your cat likes to jump from high places or attempts to jump from impossible heights, then a small injury may occur. After a hard fall, your cat may shake their feet to relieve some discomfort or pain from a mishap.

Does Your Cat Have An Injury?

Along with a bad fall, a bee sting, cut, or splinter may cause pain and paw shaking. The only concern would be if the shaking continues or a limp occurs. Shaking, if it is excessive, may need the attention of the vet. 

Is Your Cat Declawed?

Along with pain from falling, a cat that has been declawed may also be experiencing some phantom pain. Declawing can be traumatic, and paw shaking is a sign that your cat has not adjusted to the clawless life. It is common for them to shake; just watch for any infection or irritation from the declawing process.

Litter Box Behavior

Cats are well known for their bathroom shenanigans.  The litter box is a common household item and a must-have. There is no doubt convenience with the litter box, but cats are known for odd digging, squatting, and burying techniques.

It is no secret that the litter in the infamous box can cause quite a mess. When your cat uses the restroom, they could leave the box with a paw filled with litter. This will cause your cat to shake vigorously and leave a bunch of litter outside the box instead of in. 

Studies show another detail about your cat shaking their feet is that they may not like the litter of choice. If your cat does not like the litter, you may find them shaking it off their feet more than usual. If they dislike the litter, it could also result in more accidents outside the box than in.

You can try out different litters to find one that is a better match for your cat. This can help decrease the paw shaking, and it can also help your cat’s bathroom habits. 

Does Your Cat Have Allergies?

It’s not uncommon for our pets to suffer from the occasional cold or small stomach issue. Allergies are a common occurrence, too; almost all of our domestic buddies suffer from some sort of allergy. Allergies can cause paw swelling and irritation.

Cats can have a variety of allergies from food, outdoor irritants, and even medications. A common outdoor irritant is the flea. Most animals actually have a reaction to flea bites, which can cause your cat to shake their paws.

By observing your cat carefully, you might be able to rule out certain things to relieve the paw shaking. If fleas are not the problem, it could be the shampoo you use to bathe them or even their food. 

Food allergies can cause skin reactions and hair loss as well. A trip to the vet can help you narrow down the source of your cat’s allergies. Then, you can develop an appropriate treatment method.

What Is Your Cat Saying To You?

By knowing what to watch for with your cat, you can spot signs of a more serious condition. Whether it is from an irritation from their surrounding environment or internet-worthy video antics, every move means something. Shaking a paw has a clear message.

Having a pet can be the greatest thing in the world. Knowing your cat is the best way to do what is best for them. Watching your pet carefully is key to handling something before it becomes a serious condition or problem.

The fact of the matter is that paw shaking is a natural response for your cat. It is most likely not something to be concerned about. It is common for you to love on your cat and to check your cat’s feet for optimal health.

It is unique that a paw shake can mean so much to a cat and owner. But it’s not uncommon that your pet uses body language to tell you something since they can’t talk.  

You can learn a lot about your cat by getting to know their behaviors. And if you have any concerns, your vet is only a phone call away.

Related Questions

Why does my cat lick their paws?

Licking their paws can have the same result as shaking them. Cleaning and drying off their feet sometimes comes with some help from their tongue. Much like dogs, licking seems to dry the water and clean their fur from irritants and debris. 

Licking of the paws could be a sign of boredom. If your feline seems to be unamused by the everyday shenanigans, then find something to spice up their life. 

How can I clean my cat’s paws without causing them pain?

From using the bathroom and walking outside, your cat’s feet are going to always be dirty. It is a good routine to clean your cat’s paws. It is good practice to wipe your cat’s paws with a damp cloth once a day.

Plus, by examining, cleaning, and drying your cat’s paws, you can avoid any debris, chemicals, or germs on your tabletop. It is said that cleaning their paws should be a daily occurrence to help your cat be healthy. This can be a challenge, especially if your cat hates people touching their paws, but it’s best for your cat.

Why does my cat shake their paws in their sleep?

Cats need their beauty sleep, and it does not come without dreams. When your cat falls asleep, you may see their entire body twitch along with their paws. It is said that cats relive their entire day in their sleep.

Twitching, whining, stretching, and shaking can all be a part of their dream. The shaking is usually during the rapid eye movement, or REM, cycle. This is the most common time when your cat may shake and dream, remembering their adventures of the day.

Stacy Randall

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.

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