Do Cats Feel Hot or Cold on Their Paws?

by Melodie Anne Coffman, Demand Media Google
    "Walking outside hurts my feet, but I wanted to catch you a snowflake."

    "Walking outside hurts my feet, but I wanted to catch you a snowflake."

    Misty’s paws are just as sensitive as your hands or feet. During winter, her toes will feel cold while digging through the snow. In summer, she can be susceptible to burns from hot pavement. You'll need to routinely inspect her paws, even if she doesn’t like you touching her feet.

    Sensitivity

    Even though kitties have sensitive pads on the bottom of their paws, they're used to walking around in slightly extreme temps. You probably wouldn't walk around barefoot in the snow, but your feline builds up a tolerance, allowing her to keep up with her hunt. Misty also feels temperature through her nose. If you heat up her dinner she'll probably get her nose close to feel how warm it is, rather than picking it up in her paws.

    Concerns

    During periods of very cold temperatures, Misty’s fragile little paws can become cold very quickly, leading to numbness. If she continues to prance around on the patio catching snowflakes she can easily get frostbite, since the feeling in her paw pads becomes weaker.
    The same sort of thing happens on sweltering summer afternoons. When she darts across the driveway to chase after a bird, the scalding pavement can burn some of the receptors on her paw pads. She won't notice how hot the cement really is, but she'll wind up having a little numbness. If you don't bring her back indoors right away, she might wind up with severe burns.

    Other Paw Sensitivities

    Not only are Misty’s paws sensitive to temperature, they're extremely sensitive to motion. In the wild, cats feel their captured prey with their paws. They're feeling for a heart rhythm or the slightest chest movement that indicates the victim is still breathing.
    You might see your domestic feline mimicking that behavior at home. Rather than just picking up her toy mouse, she'll bat at it with her paws or stand on it, making sure it is dead before picking it up in her mouth.

    Special Care

    Inspect your purring pal's paws during her evening massage. She'll be happy to get a little bonding time with you, and you get to check her feet while she's relaxed. Look in each space between the toes, pull out any debris and watch for wounds on her paw pads -- even if she's an indoor-only kitty. If she has an open wound that smells bad, bleeds or leaks pus, take her to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
    Lastly, during extreme hot or cold temperatures, you'll want to keep her paw pads soft and healthy by applying a vet-approved moisturizer. These products help prevent cracking and dryness.

    About the Author

    Melodie Anne Coffman has been writing for various online and print publications since 1996, specializing in human and animal nutrition. After receiving her master's degree in food science and human nutrition, she opened up her own nutrition consulting business in the New England area.

    Photo Credits

    • BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images