You may have not noticed it before but some cats have fur on their paws. This is especially so with long haired cats such as the Maine Coon or the Norwegian Forest Cat. The more accurate term for this type of fur is toe tuft.
Should you trim the fur on your cat’s paw?
Many groomers trim the fur on a cat’s paws without causing any problems to their feline clients. However, it is perfectly alright to keep the toe tufts or trim these. Either way works for cats.
To better understand why it is necessary to trim the fur on a dog’s paws and why that may be unnecessary in cats, it is good to learn a few key differences in the paw structures in these two animals.
For starters, most dogs are larger than cats. This means that when a dog walks on the ground, his paws will dig deeper on the surface. Additionally, dog paws tend to sweat more. This means that more dirt and debris can adhere to their paws. In short, dogs require regular trimming of the fur on their paws because of the challenge of keeping these clean.
However, some owners prefer their dogs to have long toe tufts because their dogs compete in shows. In some breeds, toe tufts are part of show standards.
Apart from weighing less than dogs, cats are lighter on their feet. This means that their feet do not dig that deep on the ground and are less likely to get dirty. And if you care for your cat’s paws correctly, your cat does not need his toe tufts to be trimmed.
What are good reasons to trim the toe tufts in cats?
However, there are a few exceptions. You should consider trimming the fur on your cat’s paws if you notice any of these.
First, check your cat’s toe tufts. If his paws create a trail after walking out of the litter box, it means that litter and dirt are adhering to the fur and you will need to trim the toe tufts.
If you notice that your cat is licking or even pulling the toe tufts, it is either because he is tickled or irritated by these.
Toe tufts can also cause imbalance in cats, especially when walking on slippery surfaces. The fur on the paws can cover the pads, making it difficult for your cat to get a good grip on some surfaces.
Finally, consider trimming the toe tufts when these become matted. Matted fur should be removed as soon as possible to prevent problems like infections and walking difficulties.
Why do some cats have toe tufts?
Cats with medium to long hair like the Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest Cat typically have fur on their paws. Typically, toe tufts can grow about half an inch or a bit longer. Toe tufts allow felines to walk quietly, giving them an added advantage when they are stalking their prey. Additionally, the fur on a cat’s paw provides some degree of protection against abrasive surfaces.
Additionally, toe tufts help protect a cat’s paws from temperature extremes. During winters, the toe tufts allow cats to walk in the snow. And during summer when walking surfaces become hot, the toe tufts can help a cat avoid scorching his paws.
Finally, paw pads protect against cuts and insect bites.
Toe tufts are different from leg or carpal whiskers. These whiskers are located on a cat’s wrists and provide a feline with information about the object he is holding. When a cat holds something between his paws, a small animal, for example, he cannot see that with great clarity. To compensate for that, the leg whiskers send signals to the cat’s brain.
How can you care for your cat’s paws?
Whether your cat has toe tufts or none, it is vital to care for his paws. As soon as you adopt your cat, you should get him used to getting his paws touched. This will make it easier for you to touch, inspect, and care for his paws.
1. Keep his paws clean
Litter, dirt, and debris can get stuck on your cat’s paws. Even if your pet lives indoors exclusively, his paws can become sticky as licks these, leaving saliva on these. If you do not clean your cat’s paws regularly, the substances collected on his paws can eventually cause issues.
As such, you should make it a habit to clean his paws at least once a day. For this task, you can use a moist cloth to wipe the paw pads and the areas between the toes.
Furthermore, you should keep your home’s floor clean to minimize the amount of dirt that can stick on your cat’s paws.
2. Check your cat’s paws
While cleaning your cat’s paws, inspect these, looking for anything unusual, from cuts to sores. Your cat can get into mishaps as he goes on his daily adventures.
Unfortunately, felines are so good at hiding pain and sickness and if you do not check his paws, it might be too late to discover that his paws are injured.
As soon as you notice splinters or debris stuck on his paws, remove these immediately with tweezers. As for pus, sores, or infections, go to the vet immediately for the appropriate treatment.
3. Protect your cat’s paws
Temperature extremes can make your cat’s paws vulnerable to injuries. If you allow your cat to spend time outdoors, moisturize his paw pads before letting him out.
4. Consult the vet
If you notice anything out of the ordinary like limping or overgrooming a specific paw, consult your vet for the appropriate action or treatment.
Deciding whether or not to trim your cat’s toe tufts
Trimming your cat’s toe tufts is a decision you need to make based on your pet’s circumstances. If the fur on his paws does not seem to bother him, it is okay to just let it be. But if the toe tufts seem to be creating problems for your cat, you can either trim these yourself or ask a groomer to do this for you.
Image: istockphoto.com / Ekaterina79