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Vets Explain Why a Cat’s Paw Pads (aka Toe Beans) Are As Functional As They Are Cute!

Plus, 14 paw-some photos that'll make you say "Aww!"

It’s almost impossible not to give a little squeal of delight when a cat stretches out her toe beans. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, “toe beans” simply refers to the squishy pads on the underside of a cat’s paws. Take a close look, and you’ll see the resemblance to jelly beans. But those sweet little feet aren’t just cute — vets say they’re impressively multifunctional. Keep reading to learn about the magic behind toe beans, then scroll on for some adorable toe bean photos guaranteed to make you smile!

3 fun facts about cat toe beans

As it turns out, Fluffy’s paw pads are highly specialized and help her do so much as she navigates the world. Here are the surprising powers of toe beans. (Click through to learn about more fun pet slang.)

1. They help regulate temperature

Cats’ paw pads are not only sensitive to heat and cold — they also contain sweat glands. “These sweat glands play a role in leaving scent marks and helping regulate body temperature,” says Katheryn Rosalie Dench, MA VetMB MRCVS, veterinary surgeon, adviser and writer at Gentle Dog Trainers. “That’s why you might see your cat kneading with their paws; it’s a comforting behavior left over from kittenhood.” Cats also secrete these scent marks when scratching in order to claim their territory, adds Joanna Woodnutt, MRCVS, veterinarian at Petlearnia.

2. They keep movements graceful

Cats are known for being nimble on their feet, and they have toe beans to thank. “They act as shock absorbers, cushioning the impact whenever cats jump or land, contributing to their agile and graceful movements,” says Alex Crow, MRCVS, veterinary surgeon and senior editor of Hamster Answers. “The unique structure of a cat’s foot — including those toe beans — also aids in their well-known ‘righting reflex,’ allowing them to land on their feet almost every time they fall.”

Related: Cat With Extra Toes: What Causes Them and Whether to Be Concerned, According to a Vet

Another way toe beans keep cats agile is by better distributing weight when they walk. “Cats are digitigrade animals, which means they walk on their toes, not the soles of their feet like humans or dogs. This unique design provides them with the agility and ability to move silently,” explains Dr. Dench. And their front and back toe beans differ in function, too, she adds. “Cats’ back legs are more muscular, giving them the power to leap great distances, while their front paws are more dexterous for tasks like grabbing and holding objects.”

3. The color typically matches the coat

If your cat has a multicolored coat, her skin has spots of color, while if her coat is solid, her skin usually is, too. Her toes are no different — cats with stripes or lots of colors may have multicolored paws pads. Usually, these colors range anywhere from pink to black. “Some people assume this is just a charming quirk, but there might be a genetic component we’re yet to understand fully,” adds Dr. Crow.

Paw-some photos of toe beans

Now that you know just how interesting and functional toe beans are, it’s time to enjoy our favorite part — how darn cute they are! Keep scrolling for some adorable toe bean photos to make your day.

1. Calico toes

calico cat toe beans
ryoichi/Getty Images

Her toe beans are multicolored — just like her fur!

2. Pink toe beans

close up toe beans
Martin Ruegner/Getty Images

They almost look too perfectly pink to be real.

3. Sleepy kitty toes

Sweet dreams, toe beans!

4. Stretched out paws

cat paw pads
MamiGibbs/Getty Images

The only time we don’t want to squish their little toe beans: when there are claws coming out of them.

5. Persian toe beans

Smooshy face and jelly bean toes — what’s not to love? (Click through to see even more photos of flat-face cats.)

6. Orange kitty paw

cat paw close up
Gary Chalker/Getty Images

How beautiful is the contrast between the deep orange fur and light pink paw pads?

7. Playful kitten toe beans

kitten toe beans
GK Hart/Vikki Hart/Getty Images

Watch out for her little claws!

8. White fluffy cat paw

toe beans
Maliflower73/Getty Images

Such a delicate little paw.

9. Newborn kitten paws

kitten sleeping
Kilito Chan/Getty Images

This newborn kitty is tuckered out. Being that cute can be exhausting!

10. Spotted paws

close up cat paw
SetsukoN/Getty Images

Extra colors = extra cuteness.

11. Curious kitten toe beans

kitten toe beans
Martin Ruegner/Getty Images

Whatever she’s reaching for, we hope she catches it!

12. Close-up kitty paw

closeup cat paw
Priscilla Zambotto/Getty Images

These toes look like actual jelly beans.

13. Toe beans from below

cat feet glass table
1001slide/Getty Images

This gray kitty’s toes match her coat.

14. Smiling kitten toes

This happy kitty makes us happy, too!

Want more adorable kitty content? Check out our stories below:

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