What Does It Mean When A Cat Lets You Touch Its Paws?

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Cats are not only adorable, but they can also be affectionate. These furry creatures can love to snuggle up and be affectionate with their owners whether it be on the couch or on the bed. They love being caressed in the back of their ears and their neck. Others love being scratched at the base of their tail, however, what does it mean when a cat lets you touch its paws?

Let’s do a deep dive around how get your cat to let you touch their paws, what it means when they do let you and some fun facts about cat paws. Are you ready?! Let’s go!

Why does my cat let me touch its paws?

Cats paws are actually extremely sensitive. They use their paws to feel textures, different vibrations, even pressures. This is done through your cat’s receptors, and it is why most cats don’t let strangers touch their paws. It is a very important and sensitive part of their body. However, if your cat lets you touch its paws, it means that they love and trust you.

This small action truly demonstrates that you have created a great bond with your cat as they trust you enough to let you touch one of the most sensitive areas of their body. With that being said, you should always pet or hold their paws gently in order to continue having their trust and allowing them to remain calm. You want them to see that letting you touch their paws will not cause them harm, but perhaps another way to bond with you.

Why won’t my cat let me touch its paws?

If your cat has not quite gotten to the point where they are letting you touch their paws, fear not. There are a few reasons that cats won’t let humans touch their paws. And later we will talk about ways you can work with your cat to start building up that trust.

Let’s first talk about different reasons why a cat may not want you to touch their paws:

It hurts

As I mentioned earlier, a cat’s paw is extremely sensitive. Although they are resistant despite their appearance, they can get damaged. When a cat steps on something sharp such as a needle, thumbtack or a nail, its nerve pathways will be activated and the cat will feel a lot of pain. This means that when you want to get closer to their legs, they may move them away or even attack you to avoid more pain with your contact.

Therefore, if your cat keeps rejecting having their paws touched and they are also experiencing other symptoms, such as limping or meowing, it’s probable that they have hurt their paw. If this is the case, it’s important you take them to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Some injuries do heal on their own, but if your cat won’t even let you look at it, it’s best to talk to your vet before it can get worse.

They want to protect themselves

Cats hide their nails within their paws when they don’t need them. This way, they protect their nails from breaking or being harmed. Nails are one of their weapons that they use when they have to defend themselves. So making sure their armor stays sharp is important to them. Therefore, if your cat doesn’t trust your intentions they may not allow you to touch their paws. They may move their paws away, run away or even attack you to let you know that you have behaved inappropriately and made them feel uncomfortable.

They don’t trust you… yet

Similar to not trusting your intentions, you may not have built up enough trust or a close enough bond yet. This may be the case if it’s not your cat, perhaps it’s a friend’s cat or your partner’s cat, or perhaps you’ve just adopted them and they need more time to get used to you and their new home.

In these cases you’ll want to first work on your bond with them. You can do this by playing with them, caressing them when they are relaxing and giving them love and space when they need it.  Remember to be patient as cats need more time to get used to a new companion.

Past trauma

If you have adopted your pet, we truly don’t know where their lives were before they came to our homes. If your cat suffered a past trauma involving their paw, they may be more careful when allowing people near it.

They will probably protect it more as they remember the pain they suffered in the past. If this is the case with your cat, you will simply need to be more patient and keep in mind what your cat went through.

You don’t go about it properly

Cats like to be petted in a certain way, especially if you are going to be petting their paws. The touch must be gentle so you should avoid squeezing, being stiff or any sudden movement. If you caress them in any other way, they may feel pain or discomfort. Start small, by caressing them gently in places where cats usually liked to be caressed, such as the ears or neck. And then you can gently stroke their back, the base of their tail and eventually their paws.

I like to start with the front of the paw. That area is not as sensitive as their pads, lets your cat pull away easily, but can associate associate the touch with petting and being loved.

They simply don’t like that type of affection

Lastly, your cat may simply not like this type of affection. As I have said probably a hundred times now, every single cat is different. Some cats loved to be petted aggressively, some more in a calm manner. And some really only want to be petted on their schedule. For these cats, it has more to do with their personality than with their bond with you.

If you want to continue forming a bond with them, giving them the respect that request is the fastest way for them to let their guard down around you.

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How can I get my cat to let me touch its paws?

If your cat is not quiet at the place where they are letting you touch their paws, hopefully now you have identified the reasons. Next, you can start to take the steps you need to in order to allow them to let you touch their paws.

To get your cat to let you touch their paws, you’ll first need to make sure you have a good bond with them. Before trying to touch their paws your cat will need to love and trust you.

You’ll also need to make sure that they’re not in pain, as they will not want to be touched if in pain. If they have had any past traumas, they will need to heal from that before allowing you to touch such a sensitive area. Learning about their past, and watch how the react when you pet them is a great starting point to see how far away the paw will be.

With that being said, let’s take a look at some of our tips for getting your cat to let you touch their paws:

Tips To Get Your Cat To Let You Touch It’s Paws

  • Choose the right moment: it’s best to pet or hold your cat’s paw when they are half-asleep or just relaxing. This way, they are already calm and will interpret your behaviour as affection. Wobbles is our easily stressed kitty. With her, going at it when she’s calm and cuddling is a way for her to see it as just another area that is getting massaged in her little kitty massage time.
  • Give them some affection first: Trying to jump right into the paw is going to leave your kitty suspicious of you. Star by petting their favorite places and then moving onto the paw area.
  • Don’t touch the inside part of their paw: Like I mentioned earlier, one of the best places to start with your cat is on the top part of the paw. This area is less sensitive, and they can watch you petting their paw. They will most likely allow you to caress that part of their paw as it isn’t as sensitive as the inside part of their paw that has more receptors.
  • Be patient: Be very patient and stay calm. Cats are very attentive and can detect your feelings, therefore, if you are nervous or hyper they will feel that and it will stop them from being able to relax.They will worry why you are getting frustrated and so badly want to see that area. Which in turn will make them hide it even more.
  • Don’t force it: Take your time and don’t force your cat. Only pet their paw if they feel comfortable with it. And when they feel comfortable with it. Be okay with sometimes them letting you touch their paws, and other times pulling gently away. It’s their way of saying, no thank you.

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Fun facts about cat paws

Now that you understand more about your pet and their paws. Let’s dig into some fun stuff! Let’s talk about fun facts about cat paws:

  1. The pads sweat and serve to mark territory

Cats mostly sweat from their paws because the vast majority of sweat glands in cats are located in the lower part of the pads. Which is also why you don’t see cats sweating from their faces on a hot day. But maybe their paws feel a bit clammy.  In addition to sweat glands, there are other specialized eccrine glands that produce odors that allow them to mark territory where they walk, scratch, scratch or knead. This way, they make it known that this place already has an owner. This is just one of many ways cats can mark their territory.

  1. Their pads match their coat

Have you ever looked at cat’s toe beans and just been amazing by the coloring? Well, its in the genetics! Their pads match the color of the cat’s fur and skin since the same pigment acts. That’s why black cats have black pads and white cats have pink pads. If your cat has two different colours, it’s very likely their paw pads will also have those colors. Zoe my tortioiseshell has mostly black paw pads with just two that are pink. It is absolutely adorable.

  1. They wash their paws frequently

We know that cats are very clean as we see them cleaning themselves throughout the day. They especially wash their paws as their paws get dirty after all the walking, running and jumping they do. Cats will even use their teeth to get dirt and grime out of their toenails and in between their toes. Gross…but kinda cool I guess.

  1. Their front and rear leg move together

Like camels and giraffes, cats walk by first moving the front and rear leg on the same side and then the same but on the opposite side. In addition, with the hind leg on one side they step on the same place where the front leg left its mark, making them very cautious walkers. If you don’t think your cats do this (I didn’t either), carefully watch them next time they are walking across your home. It will probably surprise you!

  1. They have great sensitivity on their paws

This is something we have talked about a few time above, but it is still worth noting! Due to the numerous nerves and blood vessels they have on their paw pads, a cut or wound to their paw causes them a lot of pain and a lot of bleeding. In addition, this sensitivity allows them to know the temperature of the surface where they walk, the state of the terrain and its characteristics.

  1. They have retractable claws

Ever wonder why you don’t always see your cats claws our when they are playing? It’s because their claws retract! Their nails are usually stored in a leather sleeve under the pads that prevent wear and tear. They also allow them to walk quietly. They typically only take them out when climbing or defending themselves. In addition, they scratch to keep their claws sharp and ready to use if the situation requires it. That’s why it’s important provide them with scratchers to prevent them from scratching the armchairs or curtains in our house.

  1. They prefer one leg

Like humans, cats are typically dominant on one side. Studies have shown that, just as people are left or right handed, most cats tend to prefer one leg over the other. You can check by playing with your cat with something that is difficult to hunt. They will put their preferred or dominant paw in order to be more precise and catch the toy. This was something that caused me to play and watch my cats to figure out their dominant side. It’s quite fascinating really.

  1. Great flexibility

Everyone says cats are liquid. That doesn’t stop at their paws. Their legs are very flexible and capable of climbing, as they can use their hind legs forward to climb. However, going down is a different story as their front legs are not prepared for that. This is why it’s more difficult for them to get down from high places. And sometimes they even get stuck and will need help getting down.

  1. Number of fingers may vary

Most cats have 18 toes, 5 on each front leg and four on each back leg. However, there are cats that show polydactyly or more fingers than normal due to genetic mutations. This is more common in Maine Coon cats. So if you think you have a Maine Coon, and they have extra digits, it’s probably true!

 

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