On the front paws, which have 5 fingers in the cat, there are 5 digital pads, one of which corresponds to the rudiment of the thumb, on the inner side of the paw. There is also the main pad in the middle, which is called the palmar pad, and another higher up, which is not in contact with the ground and which is called the carpal pad.
On the hind legs, it’s simpler: there are only 4 fingers, so 4 digital pads and a main in the middle, the foot pad. Depending on the cat, and the color of his dress, they will be all pink, all black, pink, with small black spots, and that sometimes makes his cat special!
The pads are fatty and fibrous clusters within which there are also nerve endings. And it is this “composition” that allows the pads to perform all their functions.
Cushions with multiple functions
The pads come to protect the internal structures, during the walk, but also for the reception during the jumps (the cats are digitigrade). The balls are non-slip and the one that does not touch the ground, on the front paw, acts as a kind of braking system when the cat descends along a tree trunk for example. They are also sensitive tools, as they are innervated, particularly receptive to vibrations.
Thanks to them, the cat can detect the presence of prey (or a predator!) and approach, silently.
The pads are also surrounded by sweat glands, the origin of perspiration, and it is only from here that cats “sweat”. Finally, between the pads, sebaceous glands also make it possible to leave an olfactory message that accompanies scratching.