If you are reading this blog, you are probably one of the many people who uses social media to indulge in your feline addiction.
We post pictures of our own cats, our friends’ cats, cat-memes, famous cats like Cole & Marmalade or Maru. If we are lucky enough to be associated with a shelter or a cat sanctuary, our cell-phones are loaded with images. Kittens and seniors, feel-good stories and sad tales of abandonment, all touch our emotions.
And one of the never-fail images is of FEET.
Paws, to be exact. Poofy paws, usually, with claws discreetly hidden. Poofy on the top, and with a variety of patterned toe-beans below.
Human feet are definitely not so interesting. Nobody wants to look at pictures of cattle or horses’ feet – impressive though they may be. Dogs – well, perhaps some of them. But cats’ feet almost always get an “Awww” response.
Cats are DIGITIGRADE – meaning they walk on their toes. This is why it is so cruel to declaw a cat – you’re taking away the top joint of the toe, and everything is more uncomfortable without it. Many declawed cats will end up in a shelter or a sanctuary because they hate to use a litter-box – it hurts their feet. And many will lose muscle tone because they don’t like to move around so much, and are unable to give their muscles a real workout without digging their claws into something.
On a hot day, they can often be found with pads exposed – when you have a fur coat, paws may be the only place you can cool off by sweating.
Cats use their paws for much more than just walking. They climb (sometimes having to return backwards down a tree); they dig (with luck, mostly in the litter-box), they leave scent markings for other cats to decode, they fight other cats (especially Jasper and Gizmo), they swat unwary humans, they wash up with velvet paws, and then extend their toes so they can clean between them.
Alexandria is one of our very active cats, and her flexible paws are often used for climbing.Jackie-O is also a climber, possibly made easier by an extra “thumb” on her front paws.
We have several polydactyl cats at the Sanctuary. Raymond in Val Jones, Christina Aguilera in the Front Courtyard, and NikkiSixxToes in the Single-Wide all have more than their share of toes.
A glass table-top in Pen 3 is an irresistible tool for getting feet pictures from another angle.
This dark tortie girl was named for her blond toes!
Sometimes we call them “murder mittens” – but often when you see them like this, the cat is usually asking for attention.
And of course, there is nothing we like better than to have a purring pile of fur in the lap, and the sensation of being kneaded gently as the paws show how much we are loved!