Do cats accept the touching or petting of their paws?

NO, not NORMALLY is the answer to the question in the title but there are exceptions. The paws of the hind legs are almost always out of bounds in my experience. More so than the forepaws. But after living with my cat for around 8 years and developing an ever-closer relationship, he likes me to touch his paws. He reaches out to place his paws in my hand and lets me stroke them gently (see video). This appears to be opposite to the advice on the internet. It just proves that cats are individuals for one, and that there are a wide range of relationships between cat and human. It is unwise to generalise.

The video is of rather poor quality as it was made on the hoof and at 4 in the morning lit by a reading light. So sorry for the quality but the point is made I feel.


You won’t see much on this topic from the cat behaviourists in their books; if anything at all, but there is a healthy discussion on the internet. They say that the reason for cats’ unease with their paws being touched is because they are sensitive parts of their anatomy.

I think, too, that cats normally don’t like it because they need to feel that they can ‘escape’ or move rapidly and defensively for survival as the legs are that part of the anatomy concerned with movement. This is illogical in nearly all human-to-cat relationships because there is no danger but it is instinctive.

Cats act instinctively and their instincts come from their wild cat ancestor as we know. All their behavior can be understood by reference to the behaviour of the African wildcat.

Here is another cat that likes their paws to be stroked. It looks nice doesn’t it. I hate the music though!

A petting map of the feline body

It is almost as if there is a map of the cat’s body which indicates where we can pet and where it is out of bounds. Here is one I’ve just created. It is up for discussion.

Cat petting acceptance and rejection road map
Cat petting acceptance and rejection road map. Image: MikeB
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Flea comb is like a mother’s tongue

Petting can be combined with flea combing. I often do this as the flea comb’s teeth must feel like the keratin spines of their feline mother’s tongue on their skin. I think it is better for this reason than the human hand as a petting tool.


Here are a couple of articles on petting. There are many more. Please search for them.

Gentle petting and speaking to shelter cats reduces stress, improves their health and adoptability

Mini hand is a standard tool for petting cats in this animal hospital

2 thoughts on “Do cats accept the touching or petting of their paws?”

  1. Just an observation: You’re not actually stroking your cats paws in your video. You’re stroking the top of his foot!

    Original comment made by John Pork. DO NOT COPY !

    Reply
  2. Just an observation: You’re not actually stroking your cats paws in your video. You’re stroking the top of his foot!

    Reply

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