Cats use their paws for all sorts of reasons whether it's to communicate, climb up things, stay cool when the weather is hot and if they feel in any sort of danger to quickly run away. However, cats also use their paws when they are hunting and it goes without saying they are exceptionally good tools needed to catch their prey which in the wild means survival.
Cats also use their paws to clean themselves, but they are also shock absorbers and are essential when it comes to regulating a cat's body temperature. Below are a few other very interesting facts about a pussy cats paws and their pads which you may not know!
Studies have shown that cats tend to favour one front paw over the other much in the same way that people do with their left and right hands. However, more cats seem to be ambidextrous although when it comes to doing anything a little more challenging, cats will use the paw they favour the most to carry out the task whether it's the left or right one. Research carried out in Ireland showed this preference to be gender related with female cats preferring to use their left paws and males favouring their right ones.
You can check which paw a cat prefers using by giving them something challenging to do like fishing a treat out from a hard to reach place or one that you have placed in a shallow bowl of water. However, to get a true idea of which paw your cat prefers to use, you would need to repeat the process around 70 times or more, but if there's a treat involved the chances are your pussy cat will be a very willing participant!
Cats are what is called Digitigrade which means they walk on the tips of their toes. There is a good reason for this because it gives them a better chance of survival allowing them to show a turn of speed when they need to catch their prey or get away from any danger. The other thing about cats walking on their tippy toes is that it allows them to move about silently whether they are walking, running or leaping and this means any prey they may be stalking are less likely to know they are about.
A cat's paws are very sensitive which is why they are never that keen when anybody touches or fiddles with them. A cat has many nerve endings in each of their paw pads which means they are extremely fine-tuned sensory organs that are needed for cats to keep their balance and to hunt efficiently. Cats literally "feel" the world through their paw pads and this includes textures, pressure and even vibrations which could help them tract down their prey.
However, this extreme sensitivity in their paw pads does come with a price to our feline friends because it makes them more susceptible to environmental changes which includes pressure and temperature fluctuations. Cats feel a lot of pain and discomfort through their paws because these soft pads are not very well insulated. As such, a cat's paws can easily be damaged by all sorts of things which includes very cold and frozen ground as well as extremely hot pavements and other surfaces.
Cat's can bend and turn their paws in lots of ways because they are incredibly flexible. They need to be like this in order for cats to climb trees and hunt their prey down. A cat's front paws turn inward when needed so they can sink their claws into a tree which is why they are so good at climbing up them. It's a great aid when climbing up a tree, but not so good when a cat needs to get down again which is why cats choose to come down a tree backwards! Another interesting point is that a cat's front legs and paws are a lot weaker than their back ones which are a lot more muscular for all the leaping and jumping they have to do!
A cat's paws are very efficient shock absorbers not only for when they jump down from great heights, but also to absorb any noise they make when they walk or run along which means they are very good "silent" hunters!
A cat's front paws and their forelegs make perfect grooming tools, they allow cats to reach areas of their body they would not otherwise be able to and this includes under their chins, around their faces, behind their ears and to wash their faces. Cats wash themselves by first licking a paw before wiping an area they want to clean and they do this several times until they are happy with the result. Kittens start washing themselves using their front paws when they are just 4 weeks old!
Cats sweat through their paws which helps prevent them from overheating when the weather is really hot. When a cat is stressed or frightened they will sweat through their paws too leaving little paw prints on smooth surfaces which is most noticeable when they are put on a vet's examination table!
Cats use their paws to send messages out to other cats and animals when they scratch favourite things around the house and in the garden. They have scent glands on their pads and when they scratch they leave pheromones behind which contain all sorts of messages. These glands are found on both their front and hind legs!
A cat's paw pads can be many colours, but in general they match the colour of their coat which means a ginger cat will have nice little pinkish orange paw pads, a black cat typically has black ones whereas a white cat would have cute pink paw pads.
A cat's paws are extremely important to them which is why they like to keep them in top condition. If a cat injures a pad, it can put them out of action until a wound gets better. It's really important to check your pet's paws regularly and if you notice any cuts or abrasions to keep a close eye on things to make sure no infection sets in. it's also a good idea to talk to your vet before you put any sort of ointment on your cat's paw pads, because they are ultra sensitive and you might end up doing more damage if you use the wrong product on them.