Playing with a cat can be a strange experience. Your pet will purr while you lavish her with attention, and then suddenly they’ll walk away for no reason. Unfortunately, stroking or touching a cat’s paws is likely to be met with a warning bite to stay away.
Your cat’s paws and claws are her primary form of self-defense. Touching and restraining her paws leaves her feeling vulnerable to predators.
The paws serve multiple purposes to cats, so we will look at why cats guard their paws so vociferously. Cats prefer to be petted in other areas, so avoid playing with your cat’s feet.
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My Cat Attacks When I Touch Its Paws
If you touch your cat’s paws without invitation, don’t expect a positive response. Your cat will likely lash out with a free paw, hiss, growl, or bite.
The main reason is that your cat is reacting through instinctive fear. Many of us watch our pets and assume they see a ferocious tiger in the mirror. That’s certainly the impression that cats give.
In reality, they are comparatively skittish and frightful animals. Felines are acutely aware that they’re smaller than most of what surrounds them, including humans.
Thankfully, cats can defend themselves from anything that means to do them harm. We’re referring, of course, to the retractable claws located in their paws.
Feline claws have three primary uses. Hunting and trapping prey, gaining purchase when climbing trees, and fighting off predators.
Imagine if you were handcuffed, and were then confronted by a wild animal, such as a bear. Fight-or-flight instinct would kick in pretty quickly, right? Well, that’s what is happening in your cat’s mind when you touch her paws.
Of course, you would never hurt your pet. You’re just playing. You may even be helping her out by cleaning her paws or clipping her nails. That doesn’t register with a cat, though. All she knows is that a larger animal has her captive and that she’s unable to defend herself properly.
Also, your cat’s paw pads have nerve endings. Should she be injured in any way, the consequences will be drastic. If you have ever seen a cat with a crack on her paw pad, you’ll know this.
Injuries to the paws bleed far more than any other body part. Your cat isn’t daft. As a result, she’ll protect her paws from any potential harm.
Are Cat Paws Ticklish?
Your pet’s aversion to having her paws touched goes beyond sheer, bloody-minded survival instinct. Cat paws are also extremely sensitive. This can work to a feline’s advantage. Cats can sense vibrations through the ground and know when somebody is approaching.
However, it also means that the slightest touch can be ticklish. If your cat enjoys that, she may ask you to tickle her paws. What’s more likely is that she’ll lose her mind when touched.
You can always tell if a cat enjoys any physical contact, including tickling. To be more precise, you can tell when she doesn’t enjoy it. What’s more likely is that you’ll be nursing scratches, and even bite wounds. Don’t push your luck in tickling a cat that isn’t interested.
You also have to remember that cats do not laugh. This isn’t because they are joyless animals incapable of having fun. They cannot make a laughing sound to denote their happiness.
This means that you’ll need to look for other signs that your cat enjoys being tickled. According to Animology, these include:
- Purring. This could also mean that your cat is in pain.
- Happy vocalizations, such as short, sharp chirps. If your cat releases an elongated meow, this likely means, “get off.”
- Kneading at your clothing between tickles or with other paws.
- Rolling onto her back and exposing her belly.
- Twitching her tail. This must not be confused with swishing the tail from side to side. The latter is a warning sign of agitation. The former means your cat is having fun.
Why Does My Cat Let Me Touch Its Paws?
A cat allowing you to touch her paws suggests that she trusts you. An extremely relaxed pet may tolerate this contact for a while. Your cat is announcing that she doesn’t consider you to be any threat to her safety. That level of trust from a feline is not easy to build.
Be your pet can change its mind at a moment’s notice. Don’t be surprised if your cat withdraws her paw and acts as though you attacked her. It isn’t in her nature to allow herself to remain vulnerable for too long. Feline survival instinct is too strong for that to happen.
You may find that your cat places her paws on you. This is another sign of affection from your pet, as PetHelpful explains. Cat paws contain sweat glands, which release a scent. As a result, cats use their paws for marking. Your cat trusts you and is marking you as a safe source of pleasure.
Do Cats Like Having Their Paws Massaged?
As cats loathe having their paws touched, surely they’d reject a massage too? You may be surprised. Some cats actively enjoy a paw massage as the pads go through so much every day.
This is especially likely if your cat roams outdoors. Walking, climbing, marking, and grooming means that your cat’s paws see a lot of action on a typical day.
If you’re going to attempt a paw massage, ensure that your cat is completely relaxed. A good time to approach them is after a big meal. Your cat will be contented and may be receptive to such attention if they trust you.
Reach for one paw and hold onto it for around three seconds. If your cat stays calm, give her a treat. This reinforces your good intentions. If she pulls her paw away, don’t force the issue. You can try again another day, but right now a massage is off the table.
If your cat allows a massage, rub each paw from the top to the claw. Don’t squeeze too hard or you’ll frighten her. Don’t rub too hard against her paw pads. This will agitate the sensitive nerve endings and draw the massage to a hasty conclusion.
If you can master this technique, your cat will start approaching you for a paw massage. That will be a good thing for various reasons. It suggests that you have earned the complete trust of your cat. It makes paw inspections much easier and claw trims less of an ordeal.
Do I Need to Check My Cat’s Paws?
Reluctant as she may be to present her paws, you should inspect them regularly. This is especially important if you see them limping or during periods of extreme weather.
If it’s snowing outside and the roads are covered with salt, your pet’s paw pads will likely be harmed to some extent. This risk is magnified if she licks and ingests the salt.
It’s best to avoid letting your cat out during such conditions. If you do, always check her paws when she returns. She may need a thorough clean. Similarly, extreme heat can do serious damage to your cat’s paws. The sun can burn the pads at the bottom of their feet.
In such an instance, your cat will need treatment, such as shea butter. You could also apply a similar treatment any time that your cat’s paw pads show signs of wear and tear.
You’ll also need to see if your cat’s claws are growing too long. This can be a real problem for felines. Claws that go untrimmed will often curl over, causing severe damage to the paw pads.
Most cats keep this under control themselves with the aid of a scratching post. If your pet needs a helping hand, you’ll need to get some cat claw clippers. Don’t attempt to use human nail clippers as feline claws are far too tough.
Touching your cat’s paws is inadvisable unless she initiates the contact. You shouldn’t ever touch the paws of a strange cat. When a feline reacts adversely, she’s doing so for a very good reason.
She’s afraid of having her greatest defense against predators completely disabled. If you avoid placing your cat in such a predicament, you’ll be able to avoid getting clawed or bitten by your cat.