About That “Extra” Pad On Each of Your Cat’s Front Paws

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In back of the small pads on the bottoms of your cat’s front toes, and also well behind the larger pad that sits just beyond the toe pads, you’ll find yet another spongy pad. Called the carpal pad, it provides traction if a cat is skidding to a stop, making her way down a hill, or jumping off a counter or other high spot. Like a cat’s other footpads, it also acts as a shock absorber.

As for the large pad directly behind the toe pads (also called digital pads), it’s on all four feet rather than just the front ones. Called the metacarpal pad on a front paw and the metatarsal pad on the back, it helps protect the weight-bearing bones in a leg by acting as a shock absorber, too — and unlike normal skin is tough enough to withstand walking or running.

All of a cat’s footpads have nerve receptors that help them sense vibrations, textures, and pressure. That alerts felines both to possible predators and the movements of potential prey.

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