Turkish cat has strange paw mannerism. Why?

This is a cat from the Van region of Turkey. I don’t know his/her gender so I’ll refer to the cat as she. She is all white with odd-eye colour which is not unusual. She has been described as a Turkish Van but I don’t think we can say that just because she comes from the Van region of Turkey. She is a freeborn (random bred) cat that happens to live in the east of Turkey, the human population of which is mainly Kurdish (a Kurdish Van someone wrote). The Kurds appear to be a nation of people without a country.

The odd thing about this attractive cat is not the odd-eye colour but the way she picks up her forepaws and curls her toes back at regular intervals as she walks. It is mainly the right foreleg but she also picks up the left as well.

She appears to have no leg injuries and in any case she picks up both her forepaws, which indicates no injury but some sort of habit. It almost looks like the ground is cold or hot and she doesn’t like it. That may be the reason but is a far-fetched idea.

Anyone got any ideas why she has this mannerism?

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Turkish cat has strange paw mannerism. Why? — 34 Comments

  1. My first thought is there is “something” going on with her right side. Her right pupil is more constricted than her left.

    But, then, I saw her mannerism demonstrated on the left side.

    Very odd. She, almost has a stance of an alerted dog.

    • I thought it looked like one of those pointed dogs. As you say an alert dog. I have just come up with the idea that it could be displacement behaviour as a result of slight anxiety. Normally this is nose licking or over grooming that sort of thing but this could be a modification. It means that she pauses when walking. This allows her to think and go cautiously.

      Thanks for the ideas Dee.

  2. The right eye is picking up more light from the right side and so it is bit more closed. I get the impression the cat is not walking comfortably. It’s manner to me is a bit awkward especially with it’s front legs. You can see the rather clumsy way it walks up the steps. Are those steps very hot? Is it summer time? I have lots of cats like this and they just flow along as they walk.
    If a cat from Van (Van kedisi) is not a Turkish Van then what can a Turkish Van be? That is the definition of the “breed”, however there is a glitch. Cats from Van or Ankara or almost anywhere in Turkey share the same genetic markers and as such cannot be classified as the Van or the Angora according to place of origin. Truthfully they cannot even be classified as a “breed” because they are not the result of breeding in the context of the cat fancy. They are naturally occurring cats unchanged by man. The TICA, CFA, and other association’s classification of “Natural Breed” is a contradiction in terms.

    • Thanks Harvey. The Angora – Van story is fascinating to me and one of the most interesting topics about the cat fancy. In fact it crosses the borders between cat fancy and random bred cats.

      The fact that the Van region is predominantly Kurdish adds a further dimension. Perhaps the Kurdish people were the first to have domestic cats. Even suggesting that may cause offence to someone and if so I apologise. It is just made as thought.

      What is interesting about this cat’s walk is that she looks in good condition and healthy etc. It just may be a simple habit for no particular reason other than perhaps due to a little bit of anxiety.

      I am thinking of “displacement behaviour” such as licking the nose or over grooming that cat’s display when stressed a bit or unsure.

      • I agree – almost like a nervous twitch but without the nervousness – the remenants of an old nervosity/nervous twitch perhaps – maybe now bringing as feeling of security like ‘making biscuits’ (kneading).

        Sorry to jump here but I had a nervous breakdown this morning when I couldn’t find Gigi and I went on the balcony and found a spot where she might possibly have been able to squeeze out. I walked around the block calling for her after she didn’t appear anywhere inside. I can’t tell you how terrible it was. When I finally came home and found her I started to cry and hyperventilate like when I lost Red. The same feeling. It was like I couldn’t breathe and then when I finally saw her I was hyperventilating to catch more air to make up for not being able to breathe or something. The cats, especially Gigi looked very confused by my behaviour. Lilly even came and sniffed my face – they knew it was serious. I’ve shut the balcony for today. It was the most awful feeling ever – I was expecting to turn the corner and find her on the road. Plus it just got very cold here and I was picturing her lost and very cold and alone. I was late for work because I needed some time to calm down. I couldn’t breathe. But before I found her my mind went into a very practical mode of planning what to do next – posters, neighbours etc etc. This is an awful thing to happen and it can really happen to anyone and it’s very hard to deal with indeed. I was in total adrenaline mode. It took me a good 15mins to get me breathing back to normal afterwards. I gave her a big bowl of her favourite biscuits – poor thing looked so confused with me hysterically calling for her both inside and outside – she usually appears when I get up or when I shake the biscuit box. She must have been asleep somewhere very hidden which I don’t know about.

        Sorry to go on a tangent – I just had to share it. It’s one of the worst things ever for me. I felt suddenly like I did the day I found Red. Couldn’t breathe.

        It’a all ok now thank god – I would just die if I lost her like that. I wouldn’t know what to do really. And her being depressed really didn’t help me in my head at all and I felt just horrible. What a crazy half hour or so I just had. Boy did it wake me up for work today.

        Here’s a little picture of her ‘hiding’ in a spot where at least I can see her. Boy would I be lost without her – little thing – I have no clue where she was hiding but I sure looked.

        • You described it perfectly, Marc. I’ve had a few of those panic attacks. Actually, panic attack is too mild a description in my point of view. It’s SHEER TERROR!
          What’s worse is you start worrying whether or not you’re going to survive what’s happening to you.
          It’s horrible.

          • Yes it really is. It is the worst thing ever. I shouldn’t have changed the subject here (sorry Michael) but I just couldn’t help myself. I’ll probably be tired tonight from all the adrenaline. You are right Dee it is terrifying. Before I found her I was just on autopilot planning what I must do next but I was so shaky and fearful and I couldn’t breathe properly.

            I can’t wait to get home tonight and spend time with her. It really makes you realize just how much they are in your life when something like this happens. I’m still a bit shakey.

            • Some of the cat losses I’ve had, truly, traumatized me.
              I’m never the same. They change who I am. They dictate some of my actions and responses today in fearful situations with my cats.

              Losing Red did that to you. I’m sure it like felt like you were living it all over again with Gigi. It happens with me when I don’t see one of my cats or when they behave in certain ways. I fast forward to some past trauma.

              I’m so happy that Gigi is safe and where she belongs.

              You beat yourself up so because you work. Ofcourse. you are missed; but, cats have brilliant ways of entertaining themselves. As much as I want to be, I have accepted that I am not the “be all, end all” for my babies.

              • Definitely – thank you Dee – you are so right and I agree, there’s only so much a human can offer a cat and of course we should know that. I do think they take me for granted but that is just animal nature.

        • maybe now bringing as feeling of security like ‘making biscuits’ (kneading).

          Well done Marc. This is it. She is kneading her mother’s breast for milk but in this instance it is a need for reassurance due to uncertainty or anxiety. That is what I think is happening. I was on the right track and you nailed it.

          • None of my cats ever kneaded until recently. Nowadays Gigi kneads majorly, I mean totally kneading, on my blankets beside me when I am in bed and it’s her way of waking me up and asking for food, or just asking for food. She sits there and looks at me and kneads until I get her a handful of biscuits. Otherwise she never ever does it and she never has done it before either. Funny that. It’s just built inside her. It’s very sweet when she does it. She does it simply to get me to notice her. (rather than just sitting there doing nothing at all hoping I’ll notice her and give her food) – it’s funny but they must all have it built it as a subconcious fidget thing.

              • Maybe so but she’s always had a good life except for being stuck inside so she for sure takes me for granted. If I have a little less time for her then she perks up and asks me for attention all of a sudden but generally you would think she wants to play or be left alone but never cuddle. I am not sure but we are certainly very connected. I feel very sad about her being depressed. The other day I was contemplating antidepressants if all else fails. I mean it’s totally unnatural to be inside and rely on stimulation indoors and that may in the end call for a temporary unnatural solution.

                It was just a passing thought but sometimes I am at a total loss and I just want her to feel ok. We’ll see – maybe it’s an adolescent stage. Maybe she will mature a bit more and that will change.

        • Oh Marc, it is still very much inside you and just below the surface, Red’s loss. I feel for you and the pain that is there still.

          I am so pleased it ended well. Lovely photo by the way. Bikes and cats go together.

          I know exactly how you felt. Being almost 65 (I get my state pension in about 6 weeks time :)) I am sort of brain dead these days. I am too beaten up mentally to have massive emotions about things but the biggest scar in my brain, by far, is the loss of my cat Missie.

          It is like a massive sore that is still there, festering, almost 20 years later. She took a bit of me with her. I’ll never get it back.

          • Michael I am sure you would be surprised how easily those feelings come back in the right circumstances. Hopefully that will never happen, not even by mistake like it did for me today. It’s very sad – I am sorry to remind you (yet again) about Missie. I seem to do that alot.

              • Yes and well you let Charlie out and what with him having 3 legs and being a bit older that would be very scary I can imagine – the idea of him being out and about all alone. It’s a big shock, a wake up call, something anyway. I can’t wait to get home tonight and see my cats.

          • Michael, this isn’t the first time that you have made reference to your age, as if you are elderly. YOU ARE NOT!
            Besides Marc, I think that the majority of the regulars here are around your same age. I am almost 62 (April), and I work like a clydesdale for cats and treck long distances through the brush/wilderness every day.
            Babz and Ruth AKA spend countless hours doing benefits and fighting for the rights of cats.
            It’s our passions that keep us young.

            • Well I was 66 in July and the only problem is that I can’t do as much physically as I used to when younger and it came as a shock when I realised that. The saying ‘the spirit is willing but the body is weak’ is quite true.
              Poor Babz has to work to 65 and 1/2 to get her state pension, another 6 years yet, which is cruel because she already suffers from joint pain, she’s been hit twice by pension age rises and our generation had no equal wages with men so no chance to save for a private pension.
              We used to love going out doing cat rescue and feral TNR and all the other stuff CP volunteers do, now a day of fund raising wears us out 🙁 but we do still enjoy it.
              Thank goodness for the internet and the chance to carry on fighting on line for animals, at least I can still do that.

            • You’re right Dee. I do tend to dwell on my age sometimes. I think it is because I used to be quite fit and now feel the age. Also mentally, I feel it.

              But you’re right. I won’t mention it again 😉

        • I had to force myself to do sixty days PTSD and alcohol treatment voluntarily, for my sake and my cats and family. Major anxiety, depression, trauma seizures. We were given the opportunity to watch a dvd on Dr. Bessel van der Kolk’s work with individuals suffering through major PTSD. I believe that it might interest you. I had never seen anything like it. About creating new neural pathways, which is necessary to overcome the disability. In the past, the VA, for example, approached PTSD treatment from the wrong angles. And I suffered because of it, as have so many, for decades. Now, because of Dr. Bessel’s work and others’, they are realising that methods such as martial arts and yoga -especially Yoga- are much more effective, esp. when combined with DBT and CBT. It helped me get started on my recovery from trauma, and I am working on getting a copy of the DVD so that I can watch it whenever I feel that my deep breathing and yoga are not enough. (I forget to breathe, quite literally, like you and so many others. I think I understand what you mean.) Sorry for interrupting. Hope you are interested. 🙂

          A quote from Pierre Janet (1889) who influenced his research:

          Intense emotions, Janet thought, cause memories of particular events to be dissociated from consciousness, and to be stored, instead, as visceral sensations (anxiety and panic), or as visual images (nightmares and flashbacks). Janet also observed that traumatized patients seemed to react to reminders of the trauma with emergency responses that had been relevant to the original threat…”

          Here is the link if you’d like to take a peek:
          http://www.trauma-pages.com/a/vanderk4.php

          • Caroline you are very brave to face up to your problems and do something about it, well done!
            Things we don’t even consciously remember are still there lurking to hit us when we are vulnerable and then it’s like it happening all over again.
            You take care xx

          • As Ruth says you are brave. Well done. Please remind me how you came to have PTSD. If you don’t want to answer that don’t.

            You may have heard of Debra Millet who is the caretaker of a famous Savannah cat (F2) called Motzie (world’s second tallest domestic cat). She was in the Vietnam war and suffers some problems because of it. It is very tough for ex-servicemen and women. There is a pile of psychological problems due to being on active service in the military.

          • Caroline thank you for the thoughtful comment and info – I really appreciate it – I don’t feel alone when kind people share such things with me like yourself. I have all kinds of substance abuse problems and like you I voluntarily have taken it upon myself to fix them – I am doing brilliantly – its been years now since I was heavily involved in that kind of thing. Sometimes it comes to the surface and I slip up for a day or two but on the whole its behind me.

            I agree entirely with the yoga theory. I took yoga classes every morning for quite some time when I was younger and it did me the world of good. Actually now I need to get back into this kind of hting. I also did Tai Chi which was much harder but also very good for me. Now that I am older and cleaner I should do yoga and physically healthy things because I am in danger of becoming very unhealthy. I must also quit smoking. I’m considering e-cigs but out here you can’t get them with nicotine in them.
            I will have to find a way around that because they work very well indeed – I’ve tried them before.

            I think what happened with me ‘losing’ Gigi did exactly as you said – it brought up the exact moment and feelings I had when I found Red under that tree and brought him inside – my whole universe just fell apart in 5 short minutes and I couldn’t breathe and was hyperventilating in the same moment. I had the exact same physical reaction – you are right. Thank you.

  3. Cats can have their individual quirks and responses to stress. It is possible that this behaviour is anticipation of grabbing one of those many birds that can be heard in the garden. Most of my cats stir up the water in the drinking bowl, I suppose so they can judge the distance better, and some drink by licking their wetted paw. Their water soon gets dirty because of that.
    Cats existed in Anatolia long before anyone was called a Kurd or a Turk. As you are aware the earliest known evidence of cat domestication was unearthed in Cyprus and was dated to the 8th millennium BC. Tools were identifies as coming from eastern Anatolia which would suggest the people also came from there. Appropriation of a cat breed by any relatively recently created ethnic group seems silly especially when DNA testing has revealed these same cats are found in large numbers in Egypt, Iraq, and Cyprus, etc. Ref. pages 232-238 in.- http://patentscope.wipo.int/search/docservicepdf_pct/id00000019238515.pdf
    The high figures in any given population group indicate membership of that group. In these cases population 1 for Vans=Angoras. For those who claim the Van and Angora are separate breeds I would ask them to point out these different genetic markers.

    • I think as Marc states this cat is kneading and it is a sign of a need for reassurance due slight insecurity and nervousness.

      Thanks for the extra info on that fascinating subject. The cats of Anatolia 😉

  4. It’s almost as if her paws hurt and she has to keep picking them up for relief and yet she doesn’t limp at all!
    How strange.

  5. Hi Michael!

    I just wanted to correct you, this cat is NOT from the Van region. I know many people think about Van when they see white odd-eyed cat…(You can see in Van many colored cats more than white ones! whites are always minority everywhere)

    This cat is from Bitez, Bodrum as uploader said in his comment.

    The title ”Kurdish Van”was added by uploader a week ago when one Kurdish nationalist convinced him that ”Van is Kurdish”.
    Remind you that Van city is in Turkey, Kurdish people are not different from Turks but due to the national identity they created for themselves (with a support of Western countries, terrorist organization PKK) now they consider themselves somewhat ”different”. Turkey is made up of MANY different people, who are united by being citizens of Turkish republic and speaking in Turkish language. Would we divide United States by thousands of pieces just because some people feel ”too different” to belong to the same country? Why would we do this to Turkey?

    Sadly everyday this country becomes more and more divided – Kurds vs Turks, religious vs secularists, Sunnis vs Alevis etc. etc.. Even cats are being used to serve some kind of nationalistic agenda…
    You should live here in order to understand what’s going on…

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