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Your cat gently taps your face to wake you up. She walks up and down your legs just to show how much she loves you.
She touches the ground silently as she stalks her prey. Ever thought about how she’s able to do all that?
It’s because she is lucky to have special toes called toe beans. These soft and beautiful pads do more for your cat than perhaps any other part of her body.
To help you know more about your cat’s paw anatomy, we will answer a couple of common cat toe beans FAQs. Without further ado, let’s dive right in…
What Are Toe Beans?
Simply put, a cat’s toe beans feature the padded area on the toes where claws are attached.
This is a very important part of a cat’s body as it is where the cat walks on.
We humans walk on our heels and the ball of the feet. Cats, on the other hand, walk on their toes, specifically the bean toes.
The toe beans have a thick pad of fat tissue that resembles rubber covered by tough skin.
It is one of the few parts of the cat with no fur at all. Any fur on the cat’s feet grows between the toes not on the actual toes.
The toe beans come in different colors. Essentially, if the cat has a single coat color, his toe beans will bear the color of his coat or his nose leather.
If he is multi-colored, the toe beans will have a different color from his nose leather or the coat color.
Apart from helping a cat with locomotion, toe beans also act as shock absorbers. As the kitty lands on his feet after a high jump, the toe beans provide a cushioning of sorts so that the cat isn’t hurt in the process.
The toes are packed with millions of nerve endings. This explains why cats don’t like when you touch their paws. This sensitivity enables the cat to feel vibrations and aids with balance.
A cat’s toes also help the cat sense cold or hot conditions as well as sharp surfaces so that he can avoid injury when he’s hunting.
Finally, your cat’s toe beans also house his claws. When you apply some pressure on them, they will reveal the actual length of the claws. This way, you will know whether it needs trimming or not.
Why Are They Called Toe Beans?
As you might have guessed, toe beans got their name from their appearance.
The squishy paw pads certainly resemble jelly beans. If you have ever looked at your cat’s toe beans, you know they sure look like jelly beans.
What Is The Real Name For Cat Toe Beans?
Although the term ‘toe beans’ is common, it is only a nickname.
Whoever came up with it did a good job of creating a name that sticks.
Cat toe beans are actually called digital pads. The name comes from the fact that they are located on a cat’s toes also called digits.
Ideally, when you look at your feline friend’s paw, you will see the digital pads or toe beans, a carpal pad (front paw), a dewclaw (front paw), a metatarsal pad (front paw), and a metacarpal pad (front paw).
Related Post: Cat Carpal Pad 101: Everything You Need To Know
How Many Toe Beans Do Cats Have?
Each of your kitty’s paws has four digital pads. In total, the kitty has 16 toe beans and two dewclaws (one on each front foot).
The front limb has four digital pads, one metatarsal on the hind leg, and a larger metacarpal—all of which support his weight.
At the back of each front leg is a carpal pad whose function is to provide traction when the cat skids to a stop, jumps down, or moves downhill.
Having said that, some cats have more than the standard number of toe beans, also called polydactyl cats.
What Is The Extra Toe Bean On A Cat For?
Also called the dewclaw, the little peculiar toe hanging off your cat’s front legs has a vital function for your furball.
Granted, it doesn’t touch the ground as he walks but it acts as a feline thumb of sorts.
The seemingly displaced toe helps the cat hold on to prey or toys in the case of a domestic cat.
It is a very flexible toe that gives more control as he grasps prey.
Cats have a dewclaw on each of the front feet but none on the hind feet.
Why Are My Cat’s Toe Beans Black?
Different cats have differently-colored digital pads. The most common colors are pink, black, spotted, and lavender.
It’s not uncommon for a cat to have toe beans of different colors besides pink.
As mentioned, the color is dependent on the color or coat pattern of the kitty. For example, if your kitty has a chocolate coat, he will have chocolate-pink pads. If he is fawn-colored, his pads will be pink.
Blue cats tend to have blue-gray pads. If your cat is black, his toe beans should be equally black.
Most of the common breeds with black fur and black toe beans include Domestic shorthair and longhairs as well as Bombay.
If your cat’s paws turned black all of a sudden, it may indicate a medical condition such as immune dysfunctions, puffy-pad disease, and a host of infections.
Some of these conditions can affect the health of your cat. They can render him less active or make it hard for him to walk. A visit to the vet is necessary here.
Why Are My Cat’s Toe Beans Red?
Red toe beans spell trouble.
Often, redness is accompanied by inflammation. It is a symptom that shows that a cat’s immune system is trying to fight infection.
Vets are the best people to determine the cause of such inflammation cases, so get in touch with them.
Do Cat Toe Beans Change Color?
Yes. The color primarily depends on the age of the cat.
As a kitten, your cat may have pink digital pads which later changes to black when she grows up. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
However, you want to pay attention to the changes. If you see any sign of scabbing, redness, or scaling, this indicated a health issue.
In such a case, call the vest to check on your kitty.
Why Are My Cat’s Toe Beans Dry?
It’s all in the heavy usage of cat paws. Think about it… Your kitty uses her paws to walk across all kinds of surfaces to get from one point to another.
If they are outside, their toe beans come across harsh chemicals, rocky ground, and dirty surfaces.
She steps on extremely cold and hot surfaces, sharp items, and other things that can hurt the health of the pads.
During winter, your doggie must navigate snow and harsh salts that wreak havoc on her poor feet.
No matter how well-equipped the toes are, they will dry out at some point.
Sure, your kitty will try and groom herself by licking her paws but she needs your help to manage dry paws.
Dryness causes cracking which may lead to injuries. To help your cat, clean the paws often and apply good moisturizers like coconut oil, petroleum jelly, and olive oil.
There it is; a quick guide that answers most questions surrounding the topic of cat toe beans.
The most important thing is to take care of your cat’s digital pads as much as you can.
Make time to clean, moisturize, and inspect them often. If something is off, err on the side of caution.
Hi! I am Eleanor Price. I started this website after my cat, Louie, almost died from a case of botulism (a type of food poisoning often caused by bacteria that grow on food items). Turned out that my cat’s diet was the problem. I have made it my duty to provide the best information and recommendations about everything cat lovers need to know about their felines’ health and wellbeing. My goal is to find the most informative content on anything feline-related and share it with fellow hardworking kitty lovers.
Disclaimer: While I ensure that the advice and tips given here are in line with the latest evidence-based veterinary information and health guidelines, under no circumstance should you misconstrue my suggestions as medical advice. Please contact your veterinarian in all matters regarding your kitty’s health.