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Do Cats Need Their Paw Fur Trimmed? Tips, Facts & FAQs

Although cats typically do a very good job of grooming themselves, some do require a little help with trimming fur, and all cats need help with other care and maintenance requirements. One area that causes some debate between owners is the hair on cats’ paws. Every breed of cat is different, and while those with short or medium-length coats rarely need to have their toe tufts trimmed, longer-haired cats like the Maine Coon can benefit from having the occasional trim.

With that said, unless the paw fur is causing a problem, you do not have to trim it. Your cat should be fine even if you leave the fur to grow. 

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To Trim or Not to Trim?

In most cases, there is no need to trim the fur on a cat’s paws. Groomers often trim the fur in this area, however, because it looks neater.

There are some instances where you should cut the fur:

Reasons To Trim

  • If litter and dirt are getting caught in the tufts and then tracking through the house, you should trim the fur.
  • If the tufts are irritating your cat, they will likely scratch or bite at the fur. Getting rid of the tufts will help ease the irritation.
  • If your cat struggles walking on hard, shiny surfaces, it could be that the fur is sitting under the pads and causing them to slip. Trimming will help maintain balance and make it easier to walk comfortably.
  • Any patch of long hair can become matted, and matter hair is uncomfortable. It can also lead to problems walking and even to infection, so trimming is necessary.
pet grooming at home
Image Credit: Akifyeva S, Shutterstock

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The 5 Tips for Cat Paw Care

While it might not be necessary to trim the toe tufts, there are other ways that you can help care for your cat’s paws, ensuring they are comfortable and that there is no risk of infection or other problems.

1. Provide Scratching Opportunities

Cats can do a good job of maintaining their own claws with regular scratching on abrasive surfaces. Cats that go outdoors will often find trees, fences, and other hard surfaces on which to scratch. This not only maintains existing claws, but it helps to remove dead layers of the claw.

Scratching also offers stress relief and is a method of marking territory. If your cat doesn’t go outdoors, ensure that it has scratch posts or scratching pads around the house.

One of our preferred scratchers, the Hepper Hi-Lo Modern Cat Scratcher, is a surefire way to keep your kitty out of trouble (or at least away from scratching the things they should not!). It's not only stylish, but it's functional as well. It's made of sturdy cardboard with a durable plywood and metal frame and can be set up in three different ways – high, low, or lower. The different positions encourage maximum engagement, exercise and stretching, and of course, intense scratching (they can throw their whole body into it). 

cat in living room playing with hepper hi-lo cat scratcher while in highest position

With the Hepper Hi-Lo, your cat gets to have a blast scratching like a maniac, and you don't have to worry about them causing so much chaos or scratching your stuff. There are even replacement cardboard pieces available, so you really can let your cat go to town on this, and know that it will be long lasting. Click here to learn more about this awesome scratcher.

At Excited Cats, we’ve admired Hepper for many years, and decided to take a controlling ownership interest, so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

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2. Trim Claws

While your cat is good at maintaining its claws to some extent, they do need help sometimes, and this means that you will need to trim the claws. Trimming the claws is beneficial for you because it prevents long and painful claws from digging in and it means that your cat is less likely to damage furniture and floors.

Buy good quality clippers and start clipping the claws when your cat is a kitten. This will make it easier to trim when they are older.

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3. Clean the Paws

Things can get stuck in your cat’s paws, between their toes, and in the pads. Generally, your cat will be able to do a good job of removing most dirt and debris, but this does mean chewing and potentially gnawing. If you notice your cat has dirty paws, give them a clean with a damp cloth.

cleaning cat paw
Image Credit: NONGASIMO, Shutterstock
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4. Check for Injuries and Sores

Paw cleaning presents a good opportunity for you to inspect the paws, claws, and the rest of the area for injuries and sores. Cats use their paws a lot, and if they walk on something sharp or something otherwise harmful, it can cause damage that limits mobility and causes pain when your cat tries to get around. Be gentle but look for abrasions, cuts, sores, rashes, and other possible problems.

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5. Protect Against Extreme Temperatures and Harmful Substances

Cat’s paws are sensitive and if they walk on surfaces that are extremely hot or cold. Also, if they walk through substances like bleach or strong cleaning fluids, insecticides, or other chemicals, they can get damaged.

Damaged paws can lead to problems walking and general pain. If such conditions are evident, you can buy and put on protective booties that present a physical barrier between the cat’s paws and whatever you are protecting against. It might take your cat a while to get used to them, but they can help prevent injury and discomfort.

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Cat paws are sensitive, and our feline friends need help protecting them from time to time. However, unless your cat is showing signs of discomfort or pain caused by the hair on its paws, also called toe tufts, there is no reason to trim the fur. If the fur does need trimming, you can do it yourself, or you can have a groomer do it for you. Check the paws regularly, especially after very hot or cold weather, to ensure that they are in good condition.

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Featured Image Credit: Kirsten Kluge, Unsplash