Why Do Cats Cross Their Paws?

Why Do Cats Cross Their Paws?

Your cat looks absolutely adorable posing with his front paws crossed, but why would he assume this post?

Cats usually cross their paws when they are relaxed and comfortable with their surroundings. Typically, you will see your pet doing this pose, sometimes called the polite paws, when both of you are lounging in the same room.

As a cat owner, you should feel lucky to see your pet assume this pose as it means that your cat is relaxed and can let his guard down because he feels safe being around you. To a certain degree, assuming this pose inhibits some of your cat’s movement. And he will not assume this position if he senses even the slightest hint of impending danger. 

In contrast, if your small bundle of fur expects a confrontation, his body will be tense and ready, either to run or fight.

Most cats assume this pose when they are positioned away from their humans. Rarely will they cross their paws when they are sitting on the lap of their humans.

Another possible reason why felines cross their paws is that they are trying to find a comfortable position while they are trying to rest and relax. And although cats are known for their flexibility and ability to contort their bodies, moving their paws in a different position is fairly easy.

Why does my cat cross his paws when sleeping?

It is unusual for cats to cross their paws while asleep. This position is far more common in dogs. Canines assume this position to show that they are not a threat.

But what does it mean if you see your cat lying on his sides, legs stretched, paws crossed, and face buried between the paws?

Do not assume that the cat is showing that he is not aggressive. This is not an invitation for you to touch him or give him a belly rub. Whether you own the cat or not, it is better to leave the cat alone, unless you want to deal with one angry cat.

Why does my cat tuck his paws?

What does it mean if you see your pet looking like a loaf of bread, his paws tucked close to his body? Feline behaviorists are still unsure why cats assume what the Internet has dubbed as the cat loaf position. However, these experts have offered a few plausible explanations.

One possible explanation behind this position is that cats are trying to preserve body heat. Cats descended from desert-dwelling wild cats. And as such, they prefer warmth over cold. When you see your pet in this position, he might be feeling a little cold inside your home.

A cat might assume the loaf position if he is trying to relax. However, the cat may still be on the alert because he is suspicious of his environment. Some cats are known to fall asleep in this position. However, their sleep is usually light and they are ready to move at the first sign of trouble.

It is also possible for a cat to tuck his paws to show his human that he wants to be left alone. Although domestic cats are social creatures, they still crave solitude from time to time. If you see your cat assume this position, proceed with caution or just leave him alone until he comes to you.

Why does my cat reach out his paws out to me?

Another paw-related behavior that can mean any of a lot of things is your cat reaching out to you with his paw. It is possible that your cat is just stretching himself, usually after a short nap. You just happened to be around when he was doing just that.

Another reason why your cat is trying to reach out to you with his paw is that he is trying to catch his attention. Typically, this action will be accompanied by purring. It is also not unusual for your cat to come closer to you. Perhaps your cat is hungry or maybe he wants to play. 

Your cat may reach out to you with his paw to show his affection. There are some cats that do enjoy the company of their humans and are physically demonstrative. When a cat reaches out his paw to you, he is trying to confirm your position in space. Although cats have a terrific vision that they use when hunting, they cannot see clearly when an object is near them.

Finally, a cat may reach out to you because he is trying to transfer the scent from his paw on to you. But why would he do that? Experts believe that cats do this to claim their humans. This is similar to behaviors like rubbing their bodies and headbutting.

How to gain a cat’s trust

Most of a cat’s adorable behaviors, like crossing his paws, comes from a place of trust. Simply put, you cannot see these behaviors if your cat is fearful, especially around you.

To gain his trust, there are a few things that you can do.

1. Give him space.

This is particularly important if you just brought him home with you. Although you might want to hang with him, it is better to allow him to acclimate to his new environment.

2. Read his body language.

Before approaching your cat, find out what his body is telling you. Pay close attention to his ears, tail, and posture.

3. Encourage your cat to come to you.

Instead of approaching your cat, encourage him to come to you instead. There is no strict timeline for this to happen. Just allow your new pet to move at his own pace and decide when it is the right time to approach you.

4. Offer your cat several choices.

Control is crucial for cats. And providing your cat with a few options will help build his confidence. In turn, confidence can lead to trust.

5. Watch your body language.

Cats are both predators and prey. Any sudden movement or loud sounds can make them anxious. To help build trust between you and your pet, you should make your movement predictable and you should speak softly.

6. Reward your cat.

Every time your cat approaches you, build positive memories by offering him rewards. It can be as simple as praising him with a soothing voice or offering him treats.

Deciphering your cat’s behavior

Apart from vocalization, cats are adept at using their bodies to communicate with people. The problem is that one action can mean a lot of things. And often, these things are disparate.

The key to understanding a specific action or behavior is looking at the context. For example, when a cat lifts his tail high up, it can mean two things. It can mean that he is showing his confidence and comfort or he is trying to fend off a potential attacker.

In trying to decipher your cat’s body language, you need to see things in context. What does the situation look like from a cat’s perspective?

Typically, when a cat feels relaxed and comfortable, he will stretch his body, often exposing his most vulnerable parts. In contrast, when a cat is fearful, he will try to ward off potential attackers, either by curling his body or crouching down. 

You should also look at the orientation of a cat’s body. If your pet is receptive to touch, he will orient his body toward you. A strange cat, on the other hand, will usually put his body in a sideways position. This indicates that he is ready to dart off if he is wary of your presence.

Image: istockphoto.com / Nynke van Holten