Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Home > Cats > 9 Fascinating Facts About Cat “Toe Beans” That Will Surprise You

9 Fascinating Facts About Cat “Toe Beans” That Will Surprise You

cat paw

Vet approved

Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg  Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg

Veterinarian, DVM

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

You might find cat toe beans treading lightly through the dirt in your garden, digging up catnip plants and giving your cat some plushy support on their daily adventures. Or maybe you’ll find them first thing in the morning as they gently nudge your face when you open your eyes. Cat toe beans are a popular nickname for paw pads because they’re small, oval shaped appendages that look like jellybeans.

Unless your cat is polydactyl, which means they have more toes than usual, cats have four toe beans on each paw with an additional one or two on their front paws. These extra toe beans are also known as dew claws. Besides appearing cute to us, toe beans serve many practical purposes in your cat’s life. Let’s dig up some more interesting facts about your cat’s feet.

divider-cat

The 9 Most Fascinating Facts About Cat “Toe Beans”

1. “Toe beans” refer to a cat’s digital pads.

cat paws The anatomical name for what many of us call “toe beans” are paw pads, or digital pads. Ironically, many cats have an obsession over laptop keys, much to our utter dismay.


2. The skin on your cat’s pads differs greatly from the skin that’s on the rest of their body.

Skin of the digital pads tends to have a tough texture like the skin on the bottom of your feet. Despite their rough appearance, however, these pads are also a super sensitive part of your cat’s body with many nerves to help them navigate and make decisions about their environment. This is why your cat will sometimes gingerly touch an unfamiliar object with their feet before deciding whether they should engage with it or leave it alone.


3. Not all cats will let you play with their digital pads.

cat licking its paw Since their paw pads are so sensitive, not all cats like being touched there. If they let you, respect their decision by only delicately dealing with their toes as this is a sign of trust.


4. Manipulating the digital pads can assist in nail trims.

Given their retractable claws, sometimes cat claws are hard to find. If you gently press on their pads, their nails will pop out!


5. Cats can sweat through their feet.

cat toe beans Even though they can’t break out into a full sweat all over their body, cats (and dogs) can sweat through their feet. You might even see little puddles or imprints of your cat’s paws on a pliable surface when they’re nervous.


6. Cats may use their paws to claim your blanket.

Scent glands dwell in between their pads, which means that your cat releases their scent as they “make biscuits.”


7. Digital pads can absorb the shock of a daring leap or accidental tumble.

cat jumping outdoor
Image By: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

Cats are excellent acrobats who can dive bomb off a deck, land on their feet, and scamper off before you have time to process their actions. Despite their sensitivity, digital pads have dense fatty tissue that supports them when they land. The rougher texture allows them to grip and climb up trees effortlessly.


8. The color of your cat’s digital pads depends on the color of their coat.

There’s a link between the color of a cat’s toes and the color of their fur. For example, black cats tend to have black pads, orange cats have orange pads, etc. Sometimes the color of the toe bean does not match their skin color, such as pink pads in white cats. Occasionally, they may change colors since the color is linked to melanin absorption. It’s not unusual for the color to gradually change as your cat ages. However, you should take them to the vet if they suddenly change color since that’s may be a sign of an illness or injury, such as scorching their paws on hot concrete or cutting themselves on broken glass.


9. Watch out for Plasma Cell Pododermatitis (pillow foot).

plasma cell pododermatitis in a cat
Image By: sarocha wangdee, Shutterstock

If your cat’s toe beans suddenly swell and turn purple, they could be dealing with an infection that’s commonly called pillow foot. It’s not a life-threatening condition, but it can lead to secondary infection and cause pain to your cat, so you should take them to the vet for treatment as soon as possible.

divider-cat

Conclusion

Cats are amazing creatures with unusual features that set them apart from other species. While other mammals also have paw pads, including canines, a cat’s digital pads allow them to perform all their unique maneuvers, such as jumping from roofs without a scratch. Next time you’re petting your cat, you can admire their toes and appreciate what they actually do (with your cat’s permission, of course).

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets