Your cat's furry feet serve as her own all-terrain footwear, protecting the skin between her toes and pads against temperature extremes and environmental hazards. Be sure to pay attention to her paws and provide her with veterinary care should she need it.
My, What Furry Paws You Have!
A cat’s fur coat serves as a protective covering for her skin. It acts as a barrier against the harsh temperatures of winter and the searing rays of the summer sun. When outdoor cats walk across frozen patches of ice or hot pavement, the fur on their paws helps to deflect these temperature extremes from making direct contact to the skin as she walks. The fur also provides a measure of defense against minor skin trauma such as insect bites, cuts from brush that covers the ground and contact exposure to irritating substances.
Kitties with Tufted Toes
Long-haired cat breeds show off luxurious coats of long locks. The fur on the bottoms of many of these cats’ paws sprouts forth in tufts between the pads. Maine coons and Norwegian forest cats in particular have a propensity for these tufts. This breed characteristic enables these cats to traverse the snowy grounds that are typical to the regions from which they originated. Think of your Maine coon’s furry paws as her own built in set of snowshoes.
If your kitty resides strictly indoors, her pampered paws likely will never touch a frozen or scorching ground. The fur on her paws helps to prevent her skin from making direct contact with indoor perils, such as household chemicals. Such protection is only skin deep and the fur does not usually cover the pads. It is important to clean your cat’s paws daily with a damp cloth because harsh substances that remain stuck on her paws can become ingested when she grooms herself. Feel her paws in between her toes and around her pads for any tiny foreign objects or debris that may be trapped in the fur, such as small burrs or pine needles that you may have tracked in from outdoors or clumps of litter from her litter box.
When Furry Feet Pose a Problem
Indoors, your Maine coon’s snowshoes act more like fuzzy slippers that may cause sliding on wooden floors when she’s in her zoom around the room mode. Some cats find these tufts of fur disturbing when they tickle the paw pads. In such cases, the cat may lick her paws excessively and even make attempts to pull out the tufts. If either of these scenarios seems familiar, your veterinarian can trim the excess length of fur from her paws. Bring any cat who licks her paw incessantly to her veterinarian for a thorough inspection so that he may determine the cause for her discomfort and treat the problem. A little daily attention to your kitty’s paws will keep her strutting along on happy feet and affectionately touching your cheek with her velvety paw.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.