This picture of a paw print in snow from the forepaw of a domestic cat tells a story but what is the story? A picture is worth a thousand words, they say but what are those words? Pictures can mislead and they can tell the truth. They can get at the truth or they can cover it up.
I’m going to see whether I can get to the truth of this cat picture without a cat in it. The person who uploaded it to Reddit.com simply titled it, “A Short Story”. So I think that it’s a very neat title because the word “short” implies the very short journey that this cat made into the snow.
If the picture is genuine then it is saying that a domestic cat peered through the open patio doors at the snow and wanted to investigate because snow is generally quite interesting to domestic cats; placed one forepaw (it looks like the left paw) and then decided against it and retreated back into the warmth of the home.
The first question I had was whether this was a dog or cat paw print. It seems to me that dog paw prints nearly always leave claw marks because their claws are not protrusible (retractable if you like). So the claws always stick out and so they make a mark on the ground whereas a cat’s claws are raised off the ground and therefore don’t leave a mark or they might leave a faint mark. The exception to this is the cheetah whose claws are not protrusible. The reason? So they can get a purchase on the ground because they do all their hunting at high speed and need that purchase and grip.
So we can confirm that this is the left forepaw print of a domestic cat. But how did it get there? It could be as I described above or it might be that the owner (the photographer?) picked up his cat and placed the left paw into the snow. He then lifted up his cat and withdrew into their home after photographing the paw print.
That, I have to say – because I’m cynical and suspicious by nature nowadays – is my assessment of how this neat photograph was made. “Neat” in several ways. The paw print is very neat, as if it’s been placed very carefully, and the concept and title is also very neat. It’s clever. It’s the kind of cleverness you expect from the website Reddit.com. There are many funny men and women on that side which leads me to believe that my assessment is correct.
You can see lots of really happy domestic cats rolling around in the snow. This must be an individual cat characteristic. Some cats will be reticent to go into it while others will dive in with joyous abandonment! What encourages them is the novelty of it although in some countries snow is very commonplace.