Cat Trails Are Unique

Last Updated on April 13, 2020

Most people don’t really notice something special about cats. This is for cats in the wild as well as house cats. When they leave their paw markings behind in snow, sand, or dirt, something is different from other mammals. What is it?

A Cat’s Walking Pattern

Have you ever noticed how your cat walks? Cats all have the same walk when not hunting or jumping. They will move like this: Back right, Front right, Back left, Front left. What this means is that they walk in-sync with each side of their body. As the back foot on the right closes into the front, the paw is swapped out in the same location.

This will always leave behind what seems to appear as two paws in a perfect line. It is one of the easiest ways to tell the difference between feline and canine tracks.

Paw Prints in the Snow

Since cats move from one side to the other in perfect sync, they only leave one set of paws in the snow! The back paw and front paw are elevated on one side, soon as the back paw touches down, it is going in the exact same spot as the front paw was.

Here is a cat walking from a side view (slow down the speed to 0.25)

The Difference with Canines

With wolves and canine species, the paws will sync in opposites. The front right paw will move forward and the back left will follow. This is why they leave 2 sets of paws in the snow and cats do not. If you are ever out and spot a trail with bigger paws, this is one way that will help you determine the difference between wolf paw marks and bobcat/mountain lion paw marks.

But of course, in play… this rule goes out the window!
Now that you know how a cat walks, maybe you can perfect your own little turn on the catwalk, yeah on the catwalk!

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