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What’s up with those kitty toe beans?

What’s up with those kitty toe beans?

Posted by Armarkat on 3rd Jun 2024

Did you know that cats sweat from their toes? There is a lot more to cat “toe beans” than the social media photo craze. Toe beans are vital to a cat’s jumping ability and scent marking. They have also taken on new cultural meaning. Some people believe that the shape of their cat’s paw pad indicates their cat’s personality.

Cat expert Jackson Galaxy defines ‘toe beans’ as “the pink, squishy pads on the underside of an animal’s paws. Particularly, a cat’s. So named for their resemblance to jelly beans.” These beans can actually come in a variety of colors, depending on a cat’s coat color. According to, orange cats have orange toe beans, black cats have black toe beans, white cats have pink toe beans, multi-colored cats have toe beans of multiple colors, tabby cats have gray or dark pink toe beans, and some breeds will have toe beans that match the color of the cat’s nose.

Adding fire to the toe bean obsession of cat lovers, there is even an official nebula named the Cat’s Paw Nebula. Located in the Scorpius Constellation, this astronomical sight takes the form of individual oblong dust clouds, which look like toe beans!

On a veterinary note, the scientific term for a cat’s toe beans is “digital pads,” according to Cats have five toe beans on each front paw and four on each back paw, which means the average cat has 18 toes. However, polydactyl cats (polydactyl meaning “extra digits”), are born with one or more additional toe beans.

Toe beans serve many helpful biological functions. Cats sweat primarily through panting, but some sweat is also secreted through their toe beans. The brightness of your cat’s toe beans can actually show how active or anxious your cat may be. Jackson Galaxy explains that “when you see a toe bean go really pink and really squishy, usually that’s because the cat has been exercising, or because it might be kind of stressed.” Turns out looking at your cat’s paws can be both cute and informative!

Felines don’t just rely on their toe beans for perspiration. The soft texture of your cat’s toe beans and paw pad helps your cat jump without skidding and land without pain, according to Scent glands in between the toe beans allow your cat to ‘scent mark’ (spread their identifying hormones) on objects they touch with their paws, such as surfaces they knead. In recent years, toe beans have taken on new meaning in the art of “pawmistry,” which is analyzing the shape of your cat’s toe beans and paw pad to determine your kitty’s personality type. Originally known as “nekteso'' in Japanese, pawmistry distinguishes among five different kinds of toe and paw pad shapes that may reveal clues about your cat’s personality. According to the Cat Connection, cats with a heart-shaped paw pad are very affectionate, cats with rounded paw pads are sociable among both humans and cats, and cats who have a pad with a straight edge on the top tend to be shy and enjoy solitude. Also, if a cat has a partially curved and partially flat paw pad, they are likely to be difficult to please. Cats with paw pads in a triangular formation are more apt to be strange and perhaps hyperactive.

Whether you’re browsing toe bean photos on social media, checking your cat’s paws for sweat, or examining the shape of your cat’s paw pads, toe beans are a truly amazing part of cat anatomy.

Quote of the day: “Cats never strike a pose that isn’t photogenic.” - Lillian Jackson Braun


“Pawmestry: the art of reading toe beans”, The Cat Connection

“What are cat toe beans?”, Rover

“What are toe beans?”, Jackson Galaxy