Maine Coon cats have larger paws compared to most other cat breeds, and comes equipped with extra special features to help it thrive in their snowy homeland. They’re more prone to being born polydactyl, or born with extra toes.
Maine Coon cats are fascinating creatures, and their paws are no exception. But it get so much more interesting (and cute!) than that. Let’s take a deeper dive into things you must know about Maine Coon paws.
Maine Coon Paws are Large!
The first and most obvious thing. Maine Coons are one of the most recognized cat breeds with big paws. After all, they are the largest domestic cat breed. It only makes sense they have the biggest paws as well!
The paws of a Maine Coon are super sized, and strong – consistent with their robust and sturdy size. The attached claws are sharp and retractable. These claws are used for climbing, catching prey, and self-defense.
Despite their status as skilled hunters, Maine Coons are known for being gentle around their humans and typically use their claws responsibly.
In our house, my Maine Coon girl, Chelle, goes into turbo mode for bugs, moths, flies, and of course, plenty of toys. And sometimes my hand, if its zoomie time!
Maine Coon Paws are Flat
One of the remarkable features of Maine Coon paws is their unique shape, which serves as a valuable adaptation in their snowy native regions of the Northeastern United States.
Maine Coon paws are characterized by their larger, wider, and flatter structure, offering enhanced weight distribution. It’s akin to having built-in snowshoes, providing more surface area and preventing them from sinking into the snow while walking.
The broader, flatter paws also grant Maine Coons a stronger grip, proving especially advantageous for their natural hunting and climbing abilities.
These majestic felines are skilled climbers and hunters, and their wide, flat paws ensure stability and secure traction, whether they’re scaling trees or capturing their prey.
Maine Coon Cat Paws Have Toe Tufts
Maine Coons are built tough for their environment. And that extends even to the fur around their paws. This long fur, referred to as “tufts,” is a super cute mechanism that sets them apart from other cat breeds.
Toe tufts serve a functional purpose: they act as built-in “snow boots,” providing insulation against cold weather conditions. Adorable feet tufts also create a barrier that provide warmth and protects the pads of the cat’s feet from frostbite.
Polydactylism in Maine Coon Cat Paws
The topic of polydactylism in Maine Coon cats is fascinating! Polydactylism is a genetic mutation that causes an animal to have more than the usual number of toes. Polydactylism is present in all cats, but more prevalent in Maine Coons than other breeds.
(In cats, the normal number is five on the front paws and four on the back paws. Polydactyl cats can have six or more toes on their front and/or hind paws.)
The extra toes of a polydactyl Maine Coon (AKA double paw Maine Coon) can vary in functionality. Some are fully formed and articulate, while others may be smaller or less functional.
Polydactyl Maine Coons hold a special place in feline history. In the past, it’s estimated that 25% of Maine Coons were polydactyl.
Breeders historically viewed polydactylism as unfavorable in Maine Coon cats against cat show standards, and they selectively bred against it to reduce its prevalence in the gene pool.
In the present day, it’s less common to find a polydactyl Maine Coon if you’re acquiring one from a reputable breeder who specializes in purebred cats. However, in mixed breed Maine Coons, six toes may still be more common!
Maine Coon Paws vs Normal Cat
Besides the above-mentioned larger size, flatter paw, and longer toe tufts, below are other things that distinguish a Maine Coon’s paws vs normal cats.
Longer Paw Carpal Whiskers
Also known as vibrissae, the whiskers of Maine Coon cats can be found above the carpal joints, which are essentially the wrists of their front legs.
These whiskers are ultra sensitive and play a crucial role in helping the cats perceive and navigate their surroundings, much like facial whiskers.
Given their larger size, Maine Coon cats boast more prominent and substantial carpal whiskers compared to most cat breeds. This characteristic totally enhances their ability to sense and adapt to complex environments.
Maine Coons have a higher degree of webbing between their toes vs other cat breeds. This webbing provides them with a larger surface area, which can be advantageous in snowy conditions acting like natural snowshoes.
Plus, this webbing can aid in swimming, a task that Maine Coons are more likely to partake in than many other cats due to their semi-waterproof fur and their historical environment.
The paw pads of a Maine Coon are typically larger and more robust than those of other cat breeds. These pads are well suited to their larger body size and weight and provide extra cushioning and insulation.
The sturdy pads can also handle rougher terrains better, providing grip and shock absorption.
Due to their larger paw size, Maine Coons leave a larger paw print than most other domestic cats. Additionally, Maine Coons who are polydactyl (have extra toes) will leave a distinctly different paw print due to the additional toes!
Toe Tuft Grooming and Care
Caring for the toe tufts of a Maine Coon cat is an important part of their overall grooming and care regimen. While these tufts serve a purpose in nature by providing insulation and extra grip on slippery surfaces, they can cause issues in a domestic setting.
Sliding, Tripping and No Traction
If the fur between the toes grows too long, it can protrude beyond the pads of the feet, which can affect the cat’s traction on smooth surfaces, like hardwood or tile floors.
This might cause the cat to slide while running and turning, or needing to put more pressure on joints to safely land while jumping down from high places. All of which can lead to injuries. Trimming can help prevent this.
Dirt and Bacteria Trapping
If you have a Maine Coon that enjoys exploring outdoors, the fur tufts between their toes can trap dirt and bacteria. Over time, buildup can lead to infection or irritation.
It’s important to regularly check your Maine Coon’s paws and clean them gently with a pet-friendly, unscented wet wipe if needed. Trimming the fur in this area can reduce the amount of dirt and debris that gets trapped.
Maine Coon Kitten Paws
Maine Coon kittens, like all kittens, are born with tiny paws. However, even at a young age, you may notice that their paws are larger than those of other kittens of a similar age. This is a hint of the large, majestic cat they will grow into.
The fur between their toes starts to grow out early and you can often see the tufts of fur sticking out from between their toes. This fur will grow longer as the kitten matures.
Maine Coon kittens, like adults, can also be polydactyl, meaning they might have more than the usual number of toes. Polydactyl Maine Coons can have up to seven toes on each paw, but six is more common.
Like with all kittens, regular handling of their paws will help them get used to paw care routines later like claw trimming and toe tuft grooming.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Maine Coon cats have different paws?
Yes, Maine Coon cats have paws that set them apart from other feline breeds. Their paws are noticeably larger and equipped with adaptations for their native snowy homeland, like tufts of fur for insulation and flatter with a broad surface area for easier snow navigation.
Additionally, Maine Coons have an increased likelihood of polydactylism, meaning they might have more than the typical number of toes, an interesting trait in this distinct breed.
Do Maine Coon cats have big paws?
Yes, Maine Coon cats definitely have large paws. This size is not just for show; it’s a result of their anatomy which is adapted to cope with harsh conditions.
Each paw is equipped with thick pads and tufts of fur, aiding in insulation and providing greater surface area for navigating through their snowy native environments. Those large paws serve a function beyond their impressive appearance!
Do Maine Coons have polydactyl paws?
Yes, some Maine Coon cats do have polydactyl paws (or doubled pawed). Polydactylism, or the presence of more than the usual number of toes, was once quite common in Maine Coons.
But, due to specific breeding practices, it’s less common in purebred Maine Coons today. Nevertheless, you can find a Maine Coon with this trait, especially in mixed breeds.
I’m Gary Hu, a proud cat dad to a 15 lb Maine Coon. Have taken care of outdoor and indoor cats for over 10 years, and learned tons on behavior, habits, health, and products. I help new Maine Coon (or any other cat) parents with common questions and issues based on real, practical experience.