Pawmistry: What Your Cat’s Paw Pad Can Tell You About Who They Are · The Wildest

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Is Cat Paw Reading Real? The Internet Thinks Your Kitty's “Toe Beans” Can Reveal Their Personality

Could the secret to understanding your cat be right under their paws?

by Charles Manning
April 16, 2024
Young girl cuddling and holding her cute cat.
MSTORY / iStock

Your cat is a mystery. A puzzle. A spicy little enigma wrapped in fur. It’s part of their appeal. Part of what makes them so amusing. And yet, wouldn’t it be nice to have a few more insights into who they are and why they do the things they do? Even if those insights weren’t exactly scientific?

Enter pawmistry: the divine art of cat paw reading. You’ve heard of palmistry, right? Where a skilled practitioner (or a swindler, depending on how you look at things) reads the lines on the palm of your hand to determine your future? It’s an ancient art designed to separate gullible people from their money. And if you believe in that, then you might as well believe in this. And if you don’t believe in any of it, well, keep reading anyway, because it’s fun. 

What to understand about cat paws

But first, a little about the paw itself. Cats (like dogs, kangaroos, and rodents) are digitigrade animals, which means they walk on their toes, with their heels raised off the ground. Like humans, cats often have a dominant paw: a front paw they favor when reaching for things or covering their business in the litter box. This is the paw you “read” when practicing pawmistry. Don’t try reading the other paw, because that paw lies. And you don’t want that. Because you value the truth. No matter how made up it is.

A typical front paw has seven soft, fleshy, hairless pads, which we will heretofore call “beans.” There is the metacarpal bean, that’s the big one in the middle (so squishy!); the four digital beans, which are equivalent to human fingers; the dewclaw bean, only present on the front paws and similar to the human thumb; and, finally, the carpal bean, a clawless bean located a little further up the leg that provides traction when coming to a stop or descending a slope. 

Cat-paw readers (yes, it’s a thing)

A lot of the information on pawmistry circling on the internet right now concerns itself specifically with the reading of the metacarpal bean. Many of these articles reference, or presume to reference, a book by a Japanese fortune teller who goes by the name of Mr. Akatsuki.

According to this fortune teller, there are five main personality types as determined/reflected by the shape of the metacarpal bean. Cats with heart-shaped metacarpal beans are cuddlebugs. Cats with rounded beans are adventurous and social. Flat-topped beans mean a cat is more demure and solitary, while a slight divot in the metacarpal bean means they are downright aloof. And, finally, a pointy bean means your cat is a little, uh, whacky.

Of course, other “resources” break down metacarpal bean shape/meaning differently. This guide , for instance, which claims (with zero evidence) to be 99 percent accurate, has six categories, as opposed to five, and this TikTok explaining the guide has over four million views.

The TikToker in the video, @mikiraiofficial, claims the guide is based on the findings of Japanese researchers who examined over 2,000 cats. Of course, she doesn’t include the names of these researchers or any sort of citation of their work and we also could not find it, but that’s probably just because they don’t actually exist and no real scientific research was ever done. But that’s OK, because we are living in a post-truth world, and this is all just for funsies anyway. 

Another cat-palm guru, Megan Lynn Kott, actually wrote an entire book on the mystical art of cat decoding. It’s called Pawmistry: Unlocking the Secrets of the Universe with Cats, and it’s pretty fun, even if it is complete and utter bollox. In it, she devotes an entire chapter to reading your cat’s paws that goes far beyond mere metacarpal-bean analysis.

According to Kott, left-paw-dominant cats tend to be more emotional and are easily distressed, while right-paw-dominant cats are more relaxed and affectionate. Cats with freckled toe beans are supposedly more creative, while black-toe-bean cats are more mystical and were probably a witch’s familiar in a past life. Pink toe beans mean your cat is an egotistical hedonist, and brown toe beans mean your cat is down to earth, you know, because dirt is brown. And gray toe beans signify wisdom, which is a nicer way of saying your cat is old.

Even claw shape has its own special significance, per Kott. Long-claw cats are lazy, while short claw cats are fastidious, and cats without claws are “unlucky in love and friendship” (you can say that again).

Links between cat anatomy and personality (is it a thing)?

Of course, none of these analyses are based on any sort of scientific research, but, hey, even a stopped clock is right twice a day, right? Maybe these preachers of the paw actually stumbled across some real truths purely by accident? “I don’t think so,” says Marci Kosk i, certified feline behavior and training consultant at Feline Behavior Solutions. “The purpose of the pads on a cat’s paw is to provide traction and protection while they walk around. They also contain scent glands for marking their territory. The idea that they have anything to do with their personalities is pretty out there.”

Well that’s no fun! What about other physical traits? “I don’t think there are any links whatsoever between anatomy and personality,” Koski adds. “A lot of people think a cat’s fur color has something to do with their personality — like that tortoiseshell cats have ‘tortitude’ or that all orange cats share one common brain cell — but I think it really just comes down to each individual cat.”

Still, if you want to believe in pawmistry, go right ahead. Sure, history is full of pseudosciences, like phrenology, that erroneously link anatomical and behavioral differences, often in an attempt to justify racism and other pre-existing prejudices, but this is just for fun. You won’t love your cat any less if you find out they have the pointy pink metacarpal toe beans of a clinically diagnosed narcissist.

References:

Charles Manning

Charles Manning is an actor, writer, and fashion/media consultant living in New York City with his two cats, Pumpkin and Bear. Follow him on Instagram @charlesemanning.

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