If you own a cat, I’m sure you have seen them cleaning their front paws before and after eating, playing with their water or doing other things with their paws beside walking. Cats have four paws and on each paw you can find five toe pads with claws. The cat’s paws make the perfect landing gear. But that doesn’t mean they are only made for landing on, walking on and to catch birds with. Cats do so much more with their paws, things you might have noticed before but never knew why.
Making biscuits is another word for kneading because the motion the cats make — pushing their front paws in and out, alternating between left and right — looks like a baker kneading his dough. There are many reasons why a cat is kneading. It could be that the kneading reminds them of being a kitten. Kittens have to knead their mother’s belly in order to get milk out of her nipples. This might also mean that kneading is instinctive.
Another reason why your cat might be making biscuits on your lap is because she or he is marking territory. Cats have scent glands near their claws in the pads on their feet. Their scent is similar to a human’s fingerprint, it’s always unique. So kneading can also mean that your cat is claiming you as his or her own, or your couch, telling other cats to back off. Kneading always happens when cats are happy and feeling comfortable.
Have you ever witnessed your cat putting one or both of his front paws in the water bowl before and/or during drinking?
That’s because cats like moving water and by putting their paw into the water, the water starts moving. Moving water tends to be cleaner. Still water might have been standing for a while and collecting bacteria. But because cats have trouble seeing things from up close — in this case the water surface — and they don’t like getting their whiskers and nose wet, some cats will place their paw in the water to see where it is located and how deep it is.
Cleaning After Eating
Cats are very clean animals and they spend a part of their day grooming themselves to keep their coat clean and shiny. They clean their entire body or as far as their tongue can reach. Other places like their ears, nose and the back of their head will be done by licking their paws first before wiping it on the area they can’t reach. But why do they clean their paws after eating, even though they might not have used that paw to touch the food?
Cats are very hygienic animals, especially when it is about meal time. They will not only wash their paws after eating but also their face and the rest of their body, getting rid of dirt or food that might be stuck in their fur. Cleaning is also an instinctive behavior. This reminds me of the warm, damp cloths you sometimes get in Asian restaurants after you have eaten. This is to clean your face and hands with. I wonder where they got it from…
Pads and Claws
Cats paw pads are made of a hairless, thick skin and even though the pads are really thick, they have a lot of nerve endings in each pad so they can detect temperature and vibrations. How easy is that! The claws are made out of a protein called keratin, and they are covered by the sheath, which is the outer layer — dead keratin cells – of the claw. Inside the claw you can find the quick. It contains blood vessels, nerves and cells that make the nails grow. So when you’re planning to trim your cat’s nails, be very careful not to cut in their quick.
So now that you know more about the cat paws, you now know why your cat always puts its paws in the water bowl and why they knead on your favorite chair. Remember not to punish your cat for instinctive behavior.