Why do cats shake their paws? This can seem funny to some people. You might imagine two felines doing the paw-shake as if they’re meeting for the first time.
However, this isn’t the same kind of shake people do. It almost looks like there’s something stuck in their paws and they’re trying to get rid of it.
Your cat is sitting still or just chilling on your lap. All of a sudden, you feel something trembling and jerking.
You look down at your cat and you see her stretching out her leg as far as possible and shaking it. This can be a bit of an unsettling scene for first-time cat parents.
It might even look like she’s having a seizure. Thankfully, it’s not that serious. She quickly gets back to her old self afterward so it shouldn’t be a big deal.
But the question is still itching somewhere at the back of your mind. Why do cats shake their paws and is there a hidden meaning behind it?
Perhaps they get a cramp from time to time just like humans do, so they feel the need to jiggle their body parts. Maybe they do this when they feel itchy but can’t reach the spot?
Who knows! The feline world is a place that’s full of untold secrets. Even though there’s been a lot of research regarding cat behavior, they never cease to surprise us with something new.
Why do cats shake their paws?
If we want to find out why cats shake their paws, we must dig a bit deeper. The truth is that felines function a bit differently than humans.
What I mean to say is that they perceive the world in another way. For instance, while humans mostly use their eyesight for awareness of their surroundings, cats have another powerful tool.
Even though their strongest sense is the sense of smell, felines have another trick up their sleeves. They also rely on touch as well in order to feel the world around them.
This takes us to one of their most obvious personality traits: curiosity. Cats are inquisitive creatures who spend most of their time exploring their surroundings.
Therefore, they’re always prodding and poking something with their paws, even if it’s just the ground they’re sitting on. Accordingly, a feline’s sense of touch is always heightened; even if it may not seem so.
So, a cat can shake her paws for numerous reasons due to their sensitivity. The reason behind this strange behavior can be totally innocent or something you should worry about.
1. She’s hurt
You’re walking down the hallway and your cat sprints in front of you. Suddenly, she stops and starts shaking her leg. “What’s wrong with her?“, you think to yourself.
Before you can even get to her, she’s up on her feet and acts all normal. Just when you think it’s nothing and you’re overreacting, she does it again.
“Are you okay? Did you hurt your paw?“, you ask your furry pet as if she can understand you. Perhaps the shaking of the paw is followed by a slight meow from your pet.
“How many times have I told you not to run so fast?” You start scolding your pet but with worry clearly written all over your face.
You reach down to inspect her paw but she retreats or even hisses. These are the signs of your cat being hurt or having something stuck in her paw pads.
Why do cats shake their paws and entire legs if the problem is in their pads? Well, they’re probably trying to get rid of anything that’s been glued to their feet.
You examine her paws but there’s nothing visible there, no foreign object. It’s possible that she stepped on a particle of something while she was sprinting down the hall. Maybe it fell off but it poked her sensitive paw pads.
Other than that, felines are known for being extremely agile and active. Therefore, it’s possible she hurt herself while jumping off the sofa or from one table to another. She’ll stretch out a bit and the pain will probably go away on its own.
However, if she continues cowering away or hissing at you, it might be a serious injury. If you notice your cat not leaning on the leg or holding it up, you might want to talk to your vet about a possible trauma.
2. She’s wet
I think it’s safe to say that cats aren’t fond of water or being wet. It’s never an easy job getting your cat to do something connected to water.
They don’t even like drinking it and I won’t even get started about bath time. It’s a real nightmare trying to keep your pet hydrated or clean when she won’t even get near the shower.
That’s why most cat owners buy those expensive fountains to encourage their pets to guzzle some water down. However, why do cats shake their paws when they have just a few droplets on them?
There are a number of theories that explain why cats hate water so much. Of course, this doesn’t imply to all felines as some of them enjoy taking a dip from time to time in order to cool off.
However, you can’t help but notice your pet’s aversion toward ponds, rivers, or salt water the minute she wets her paws. One of the possible reasons for this strong dislike has to do with what the moisture does to her fur.
Felines are meticulous creatures, which means they pay attention to every detail. Hence, they can sometimes spend even a couple of hours grooming themselves.
They’ll lick their fur to perfection. I won’t lie, if I put in so much effort I’d also hate for a few drops to ruin everything.
Even though a bit of water dribbling down her legs isn’t a big deal, it still makes your cat uncomfortable. So, one of the reasons why cats shake their paws is to get rid of any traces of the splash.
Another theory that explains this behavior states that cats have developed in areas where they didn’t have exposure or access to water, so they’re simply not used to being so carefree around it.
3. She has allergies
Unfortunately, cats don’t dodge allergies. Just like humans, they can have an allergic reaction to all sorts of things, such as food, grass, and other stuff.
For starters, allergies are just a reaction of your immune system to a foreign substance. That’s when the system produces something called antibodies to try and fight off the matter.
This can result in various side effects that are visible on the body surface. It includes skin rashes, swelling, hives, flakes, and skin peeling.
Next to these symptoms, your cat might be sneezing, coughing, wheezing, or generally having a hard time breathing. So, why do cats shake their paws if it has something to do with an allergic response?
Allergies can spread throughout the whole body including her legs and paws as well. If you notice your feline’s paw pads are a bit brighter or red in color, it might be the case.
She might jerk her legs, lick them excessively, or even bite them as if to try and scratch herself or lessen the irritation.
This behavior could happen due to a change in her usual diet or exposure to something new. Perhaps she’s been spending a lot of time outdoors in springtime with all the new grass and plants growing.
The bad news about allergies is that they can come as quickly as they can go. It means that your pet might be born with it and outgrow it in her adult years.
On the other hand, she might never be able to get rid of certain allergies. Moreover, she might be doing just fine and develop this condition out of the blue.
If you notice your pet shaking her legs more than often without any obvious reason, she might be in trouble. Usually, allergies aren’t something too dangerous, but if left untreated, they can lead to a lot of trouble.
4. She’s dreaming of something
Your cat was sound asleep, her paws crossed but suddenly, you notice her shaking her toe beans. Does it instantly mean she’s dreaming of something? I can imagine what her dream would look like…
“That smells delicious! It’s like the meat my human always cooks and tells me not to get close to it. If only she knew that I sneak a bite or two every time she’s not looking…
It looks juicy and I think it tastes heavenly as well. If only I could reach it, I would just have a small piece. I’m almost there… I can taste it!“
Yes, I think their dreams mainly consist of chasing after some yummy meals. Next to shaking their paws, cats might twitch their noses, ears, and eyes.
Some felines will be very vocal while enjoying a deep sleep. This behavior might set off some alarm bells in your head, but don’t worry about it.
You don’t have to wake her up, but if you sense she’s having a nightmare, I believe she’ll appreciate it. When my cat dreams of something bad, I pet her gently enough not to wake her up but enough to chase away the bad dreams.
However, you can start to feel concerned if she does it every time she takes a nap. Twitching and shaking paws in slumber shouldn’t be so erratic and repetitive.
If it continues and intensifies, you might want to record a video of it and send it to your vet. There’s a chance your feline might be experiencing seizures that look like she’s dreaming of something.
5. Why do cats shake their paws after they’re done with the litter box?
Taking care of a cat seems super fun and easy. However, not every cat owner can get the hang of it easily. So, don’t feel foolish if you have trouble understanding some of the feline behavior.
Why do cats shake their paws when they’re using the toilet? Is it just a thing they usually do, like when dogs scratch at the dirt and grass after peeing?
“I don’t want to spy on my cat while she’s doing her business. It’s totally inappropriate! Also, she’d probably feel embarrassed and refuse to go to the bathroom while I’m watching her.“
I know; it can definitely feel weird. Also, some pets have a shy bladder just like humans. That’s why they can sometimes hide away in the corner and do their business or wait until there’s no one around.
However, you notice that there’s something going on when she’s using the bathroom. Moreover, she’s shaking her legs every time she’s done which leaves you confused as to why she’s doing it.
After she’s finished with the litter box, you’re often met with quite a mess. Felines have a natural urge to dig into the litter box sand and cover their business with it once they’re done.
So, it’s very likely that she’ll get some of the sand stuck in between her toes while doing so. The moment she comes out of the litter box, the sand will just start popping out like fireworks!
Perhaps she doesn’t have anything stuck in her paw pads. So what could it be? There’s a chance your pet doesn’t like the type of sand you’re currently using.
Try switching on another one and see if she’ll still shake her legs as much as she does now. I know; talk about being finicky!