There are lots of fascinating things about cat paws that you’ll almost certainly find interesting. 

If you own one of these animals, you might also be surprised by some of the things you are going to learn from this article.

1. Cats Sometimes Have Additional Toes

There are some cats that actually have an extra toe or two. In fact, these animals have been known to have as many as seven toes per paw, which is pretty incredible. These “polydactyl cats” are somewhat uncommon, but maybe not quite as much as you’d think.

These cats with extra toes are also sometimes called Hemingway cats due to the fact that the famous writer owned one with six toes on each paw. This cat was given to him by a ship captain. If you ever visit the Hemingway home in Key West, Florida, you will find up to 50 of these cats. They are quite something special to behold.

2. A Cat’s Toe Pads Hide their Claws

Your cat’s toes essentially hide their claws until they are ready to bring them out. They come out when these animals feel threatened out of sheer instinct. You might also notice your cat’s claws come out when they are startled by a loud noise or a sudden movement nearby.

The claws of a cat are extremely sharp but don’t harm their actual paws at all while they are retracted into them. In fact, their claws never scrape or cut their paws, despite how close they are to them much of the time.

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Whenever your cat goes running or jump, they are using their claws. This allows them to grip onto surfaces very effectively. This prevents your cat from losing its balance and falling down. This is why people say that cats always land on their feet.

human hand and cat paws

3. Cat’s Paws are Incredibly Sensitive

While you might think of your cat’s paws as being very rugged and tough, they are actually quite sensitive. The fact is that these animals have a lot of nerve receptors in their paws, which help them out a lot with keeping their balance at all times.

The paws of a cat have a unique texture that very interesting to run your fingers across. They are capable of sensing even the subtlest vibrations on the ground because of their many nerve receptors. This has allowed these animals to become very effective hunters, to say the least.

A cat’s paws are fairly durable, but they can be sensitive to very high or low temperatures. It also doesn’t take a lot of pressure on a cat’s paws to cause them pain. They are, however, designed to absorb vibrations as they walk along the ground. This makes it easier for them to walk on uneven terrain without losing their balance.

The high degree of flexibility of a cat’s paws also helps them a lot when it comes to jumping from place to place. Your cat simply would not be able to jump so far if their paws didn’t have a good degree of flex to them.

4. Your Cat Uses Their Paws to Leave Their Scent

There are scent glands located in a cat’s paws, which serve an important purpose. Have you ever noticed your cat rubbing its paws against its toys and other things? This is most likely because it is marking those items with their scent. This is a territorial instinct that comes out in a lot of these animals.

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You probably won’t be able to notice any change in aroma when your cat does this, but it is happening regardless. You can be sure that other cats definitely pick up on their scent when they go anywhere near the items your cat has marked.

Despite what some people believe, cats use their paws to mark their territory more than their urine, tongue or anything else. The pheromones that are given off by your cat doing this are essentially a form of communication between these animals.

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5. Cats Use Their Paws to “Knead”

Kneading is a fairly common behavior that has been observed in just about every type of domestic cat on the planet. You have probably noticed your cat pressing its paws into something over and over in a rhythmic motion.

This behavior is usually your cat’s way of trying to get comfortable. These animals often do this on their bed before lying down. It probably comes from a primal instinct from many years ago when cats were wild before domestication. They would press their paws into the grass to create a flat area to lie down on.

Some cats also “knead” with their paws when they are feeling very happy or relaxed. This is why they often do it on the lap of their owner. If this happens to you with your cat, you should take it as a compliment. These creatures can be more than a little finicky about giving away their affections, so it is certainly a major achievement on your part.


  • There are some cats that actually have extra toes, and they are known as “polydactyl cats”.
  • There is at least one cat in history that has had a total of 28 toes.
  • Polydactyl cats are also sometimes called “Hemmingway cats”, because the famous writer owned one with six toes.
  • A cat’s paws hide their claws, which come out when they are running, jumping or feel threatened.
  • Despite how sharp a cat’s claws are, they never do any damage to their paws at all while they are inside of them.
  • Your cat’s claws are incredibly sensitive and have tons of nerve receptors that allow them to detect subtle vibrations in the ground.
  • The sheer sensitivity and flexibility of a cat’s claws have allowed them to become very effective hunters.
  • Cats often rub their paws on things to leave their scent as a way of communicating with other cats. This is because their paws contain scent glands that release certain pheromones that other cats pick up on.
  • These animals often “knead” with their paws, pressing them into something back and forth when they are feeling content.
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Hi! I'm Anna and I´m a certified cynologist (KAU, ACW). Expert, blue cross volunteer, owner of Chinese crested kennel "Salvador Dali" and breedless friend called Fenya. "I can't imagine my life without dogs and I totally support the idea #AdoptDontShop".