International Society For Endangered Cats

A Voice For The Wild Cats of the World

Cat Paws Galore

All cat paws are not created equally.

Sand Cats from the hot deserts have fur on the pads of their feet to protect them from the scorching sand. These same fur-covered footpads make it difficult for researchers to track them as they don’t leave very distinct marks in the sand. Their claws are also blunt, due to a lack of sharpening surfaces and their digging habits.

Ben Williams captured this image of a snoozy Sand Cat under a heat lamp at Marwell Zoo in the UK. In spite of the weird lighting caused by the lamp, you can clearly see his fur-covered pad.

In contrast, the tropical forest dwelling Fishing Cats need bare, pliable footpads for gripping slippery rocks and branches near the water where they feed. Their claws are also very sharp, to aid in catching their slippery prey.

It’s often stated that Cheetahs have claws that don’t retract like those of other cats, but they actually have the same claw retraction mechanism as all the felid species. The difference is that their claws protrude beyond the fur, and cheetah claws lack the sheaths that cover the claws of other cats.

Cats that live in the grasslands and savannahs have rough, hardened footpads from constant movement over rough surfaces. With their claws retracted when they’re on the move, the tips are kept sharp enough to kill their prey.

No matter what the adaptation, there’s no question that cat paws are the most effective food-capturing equipment in the animal world!


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