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


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.


  1. The pad is far to tiny to act as a “shock absorber” and the dew claw would make contact before the extremely tiny pad at it’s base.
    Also shouldn’t a carpel pad relate to the area where the carpel bones are ie the wrist?
    Your photo clearly shows the extra pad is before the wrist on the actual paw. I would have assumed it is called a metacarpal something by it’s placement.
    Also how can they have them on all 4 paws when they are under a claw specific to the front paws?

    • The “Metacarpal Pad” is the large one, directly next to the toes. The “carpal pad” is further back, where a wrist would be. At the bend where the leg bones meet the beginning of the paw. It functions as a shock absorber to reduce the impact to the legs, and additional traction for rapidly stopping, in both dogs and cats.

    • They said the first ones(carpal pads)are only on the front paws. That’s exactly correct, as I’m looking at both my cats right now. Then they said the metacarpal(the biggest pad) is on all of the all four paws.


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