Cats can be quirky little creatures. They can be as lovable and snuggly as can be one minute, then as fierce as a tiger on the prowl the next.
A cat’s personality is multifaceted, and its behavior can be challenging to figure out sometimes.
Over the years, I have owned several cats, and while each one was uniquely different, they all had many of the same behaviors.
For the remainder of this post, we will look at one distinctive trait that all cats share.
Why Do Cats Fold Their Paws?
The first and most common reasons why cats fold their paws is relaxation and napping. Since they’re in an alert state, they could and often do pounce at any moment. Second, they are crepuscular and born with the instinct to hunt and even fight. The third reason is that your feline feels cold. This position is a common one during the winter months as it helps your cat stay warm.
Signs Your Cat is Ready to Relax
If your feline has just finished a meal or playing, and they climb up and lay down with their paws folded under them in a favorite spot.
They want to relax, and they find this position comfortable.
Awake & Aware!
Beware, even though your cats’ eyes may be closed, and they appear to be relaxing or even sleeping. They are on high alert and ready to take you by surprise.
Sitting with their paws folded under them, they can use their upper body strength to push themselves easily and quickly up onto all four paws.
I have found with my cats. This action is also a defense mechanism against other family pets who may try to sneak up on the cat.
Many dogs are afraid of cats. The dog sees this as an opportunity to get closer to the cat and investigate without getting swatted.
Younger or smaller cats who feel ignored or dominated by another cat in the home try to take advantage or even avenge the relaxing cat.
Only to find that, once again, the superior cat is still in control.
Even if the cat is friendly and gentle, disturbing the cat is not a good idea during their relaxation time.
The cat is more likely to bite, scratch or even lunge at the animal or person disturbing them, including small children.
A good rule of thumb I learned with my cats is to leave them alone. Then, when the cat wants to play or snuggle, they will let you know.
Perhaps they have that sleepy look in their eyes, then your cat is ready for a little nap.
Many people do not realize that cats have three types of sleep: a cat nap, light sleep, and deep sleep. The typical cat sleeps 16-20 hours daily.
The remaining time is spent eating, playing, relaxing, hunting, and grooming.
During a cat nap, the cat is alert, as explained above. Therefore, the cat is still alert with everything that’s happening in the area.
So, while they may rest and even doze a little, they are still technically awake.
During the second and third sleep stages, the cat is alternating between a light and a deep sleep. During this stage, the cat is sleeping and unaware of its surroundings.
Therefore, they will not bother anyone or any other pets in the home if left alone.
Let Sleeping Cats Sleep
Most cat owners know it is never a good idea to disturb a sleeping cat. Cats are very particular, at least mine are, and get upset when woken up.
If you gently wake your cat when they are in a light sleep cycle (you can recognize this sleep cycle by their movements, move more often and may even peek at you through squinted eyelids), they will most likely look at you and return to sleep.
Waking a cat during its deep sleep cycle can cause your cat to swat, bite, scratch, or outright attack you.
Therefore, deep sleep is essential for their health and overall wellbeing.
Cats are crepuscular sleepers.
They sleep during the day and at night. Their instincts are to sleep more during the day and to hunt under the cover of darkness.
Cats can see well at night, but they do need a minimal amount of light. Moonlight or a streetlight shining through the window works perfectly.
While domestic cats do not need to hunt, they still have a slight urge, which is why if they see a bug flying around or crawling across the floor or a piece of furniture, they get into a crouching position and then pounce.
This behavior is practiced mainly at night in pet cats while their wild relatives hunt day or night – whenever the opportunity arises.
Pet cats rarely enter the light/deep sleep phase at night. If they do, they are usually young kittens. Older cats, or not feeling well.
Cats often fold their paws underneath them to help them warm up, especially in the colder months. It helps them get warm and preserve body heat so they can stay warm.
With all its fur, you think a cat would automatically be warm all the time. That is not true.
A cat has a body temperature averaging at 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a comfortable temperature for cats.
If I keep my thermostat set at 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the cold winter and hot summer months, I notice my cats still sit folding their paws underneath them.
I’m comfortable at that temperature, but my cats are clearly demonstrating that they are not comfortable, and this position helps them to regulate their body temperature.
Frequently Asked Questions About Why Cats Fold Their Paws
Do cats like their paws to be touched?
Felines don’t like someone touching their paws. However, my cats don’t mind if I pet the top of their paw, just not the underside, because it is extremely sensitive.
Does it hurt a cat’s paws when they jump from high distances?
A cat’s paw pads soften the landing, so it doesn’t hurt them. The paw pads also quiet the landing impact.
Cats fold their paws for several reasons, including all the ones listed above. They also fold their paws when they have an injury or do not feel well.
With injuries and illnesses, there are other signs that are recognizable, so I know when to bring them to the vet for further care.