Cats often tuck their paws into their belly when they are anxious, cold, or uncomfortable. This cute behavior is an evolutionary adaptation that helps cats conserve heat and stay warm in the wintertime. As a pet parent to a cat, it can be frustrating to see them do this when you’re trying to pet them. It’s also hard on your furniture because they tend to leave claw marks as they fling themselves out of the way of your hands and arms. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this tucking behavior, and what you can do if you’d like to help curb it.
Main Reasons Cats Tuck Their Paws
1. To Conserve Heat – When a house cat grows cold, they tuck their paws underneath them to keep their body warm. The fluffier the coat, the more heat they can keep. As noted by The Pawz Lab, This takes place especially during the winter months, when cats are trying to stay warm when they’re outside.
2. To Use Them as Shields – If a cat feels threatened, their first reaction is to tuck their paws under them to protect their belly. This can be from a physical threat like a dog or other animals, but it can also be from someone approaching them too quickly or abruptly. Once again, this is a self-preservation instinct that helps keep them safe and prevents them from being injured by another animal or human.
3. For Comfort – As noted by Pet Helpful, cats have an amazing ability to sleep just about anywhere, and often find little cubbyholes or hidden spots to curl up in. This could be on a chair in your home, a high shelf or even underneath your bed. Tucking their paws into their belly is part of the comfy behavior that helps them get more comfortable and fall asleep.
4. To Hide Pain – If a cat is in pain, they will pull their paws underneath them to prevent the person holding them or petting them from seeing any signs of stress. This is especially common for cats who are fighting illness or something of this nature and want to hide it from you. They don’t want you to be aware that they’re suffering and the only way they can do that is by tucking their paws into their ribs.
How To Stop Your Cat From Tucking Their Paws
1. Give Them Blankets For Warmth – A cat who feels the cold will use their instinct to tuck their paws in to keep themselves warm. If you want to prevent this, it’s a good idea to give them something comfortable and warm for them to snuggle up with. Blankets or a soft bed within easy reach can help them stay comfortable in cold rooms in your home.
2. Don’t Approach Them Too Fast or Aggressively – When a cat is in the middle of one of their favorite activities, don’t try to bother them. Human beings often need to touch or pet cats when they’re sleeping, and want to pet them when they’re eating. When you do this, it can generally spook a cat who is enjoying themselves, and they’ll tuck their paws underneath them as a self-preservation behavior.
3. Keep Them Comfortable – Cats who are uncomfortable can sometimes be very difficult to work with, so it’s a good idea to address any discomfort they might have. If they’re in pain, make sure they’re being treated and try to avoid anything that could be causing them to feel ill or tired. Likewise, if they aren’t feeling well for other reasons, you need to keep them feeling comfortable and healthy.
4. Check To See If They Are In Pain – Sometimes, cat’s who tuck their paws in to hide their discomfort are actually in pain. If a cat is not feeling well and has a hard time moving around for whatever reason, it could be that they are in pain. It’s a good idea to check with your vet to see if they might have an underlying medical problem which is causing them to hide their pain.
Other Odd Cat Behaviors
1. Avoiding Toy Dogs – If you have a toy dog, it can be cute to see your cat playing with them. But for some cats, their natural instinct is to try and avoid or attack small dogs. This is mostly because they are smaller and feel like a kitten (which they could view as competition). It’s important to keep in mind that this behavior doesn’t mean that the cat has aggressive tendencies. They simply want to avoid an uncomfortable situation whenever possible.
2. Hiding Under The Bed – If you have a cat that often hides under the bed, it could be either because they like to be alone for some peace and quiet, or they are trying to hide from something. Some cats feel more secure when they are tucked away in a dark space in the home. This is especially true if you always seem to be on guard when guests come over.
3. Slow Blinking – According to Animal Path, sometimes, cats blink slowly when they are trying to convey they are not feeling well. This is especially common in indoor cats who have developed a slower blink as a result of being around humans all the time. If your cat does this and it is paired with a lethargic demeanor, take a moment to examine them for signs of illness. They could be trying to tell you something without making too much noise, or the blinking could be an indication that they don’t feel well.
There are certain cat behaviors which can be extremely aggravating when you’re trying to enjoy time with them. Tucking their paws is definitely one of these behaviors, but it’s not all bad. After all, they do this to keep themselves warm during the wintertime or when they feel threatened. If you want to prevent them from tucking their paws under them in an aggressive manner, you need to get a better sense of why they are doing it.