The Way My Cat Walks
Cats walking by MontanaRaven - Picture added by PoC Admin
Hi, I just noticed the way my cat walks and I had never thought about it before. She always walks on her toes. I know this is normal for cats but when we look at cats we don't think that they are walking on their toes. I love the way my cat walks, it's very smooth. Oh, I notice that dwarf cats sometimes walk on their feet like humans - is that right?
Admin: Thanks for your submission on "The Way My Cat Walks" -- Yes, cats do walk on their toes and we don't always recognize this. The first noticeable joint from the toes is the "hock" which is the equivalent of our ankle. This joint is some distance from the toes and the bone between the toes and hock is off the ground when walking.
If we try to walk on our toes for any time it is impossibly tiring. Animals that walk on their toes are described as being digitigrade. Humans, and other animals that walk on the soles of their feet, are plantigrade. Then there are unguligrade animals. They walk on hooves at the tips of their toes.
Marty Becker a veterinarian (and Gina Spadafori, co-author) says that the elegant and smooth way cats walk is partly because their gait is unusual in the animal world and is only shared by camels and giraffes apparently. Cats, they say, step with both left legs and then both right legs. Sometime horses are trained to trot like this. Do you think this is correct? Here is a video of a cat walking:
Cats usually have four toes plus a thumb (declaw) on the front paws and four on the hind legs. Unless the cat is polydactyl (Hemmingway cats) when up to seven toes can be present (see American Polydactyl Cat). The Cat Fanciers Association is interesting in that (and I quote for the Abyssinian cat) it states, "The Abyssinian stands well off the ground giving the impression of being on tip toe. Paws small, oval, and compact. Toes: five in front and four behind." I wonder if the Abyssinian stands on her toes in a more noticeable way than other cats?
Finally, dwarf cats do have a tendency to walk on the toes and that portion the leg that extends to the hock, due to the shortened legs. Dwarf cats are normal sized cats with shortened legs.
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