On quiet paws: Why cats can sneak so well

Cats can cuddle with their paws so silently that no one hears them coming. In the hunt this is a great advantage, as they stalk unnoticed in this way very close to their prey and surprise with a decisive jump, hold on and can kill. How do you do that?

As so-called toes, cats only sneak on the front part of their feet. Since their paws are also softly padded and they can retract their claws, they manage to move almost silently when needed.

Cats are on their toes

In the animal world a distinction is made between sole-runners, toe-walkers and top runners. Top runners are mostly ungulates, such as horses, cows, sheep, goats and pigs, but also elephants. They walk on tiptoe like a ballet dancer in the top dance. For this to be possible, her toes are reinforced, in the hoofed animals by the hooves, the elephant through a thick layer of fat and connective tissue. Man, like monkeys, bears, rabbits, hedgehogs and kangaroos, is a sole-runner; that is, he puts his whole foot from heel to toe to go. Sole runners have a particularly stable footing, the foot, which rests completely, gives them grip. Hares and kangaroos also have extra long, narrow hind feet and curved hind legs, so they can move quickly and agile through jumps.

The human being has the opportunity to stand firmly on his feet and do something else with his "forepaws", that is, his hands. In contrast to toe walkers like the cat or the dog we humans are rather clumsy, cumbersome and comparatively tapsig while running. Unless people crawl "on tiptoe" around, then they manage to move reasonably quietly. However, this is a shaky affair, as we are not used to tiptoeing and still keeping our balance. In cats, it allows their flexibility and elasticity, the special structure of their skeleton, the joints and muscle connections that they can run safely and smoothly on the front part of their feet. At the same time they are fast and quiet. The tiger tigers are also able to freeze in the middle of the movement suddenly and remain completely still until they feel unobserved again and can approach silently. The cheeky velvet paw in the following video shows how it works:

And that even small kittens can sneak as well as their adult counterparts, the mini-fur nose shows in the next movie:

Paws are softly padded

It's not just because cats are literally tiptoeing, that they can sneak so silently. Their soft padding on the paws also contributes to this. These are like small cushions that not only serve as shock absorbers on impact, but also dampen noise. But that's not all. If you compare dogs and cats with each other, you notice that the wolf descendants do not sneak as quietly as the tomb tigers and salon lions.

Cats have five toes on their front paws and four toes on their hind paws. In between there are skin bags in which hide the claws of the fur noses. On the front paws, your house puma can move the claws in and out completely, on the hind paws at least partially. When running, the cat claws are retracted, so they can make no scratching noise on the ground. Dogs are unable to retract their claws, they are always visible - and audible when walking.

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