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Do Cats Have Dew Claws On Their Back Feet?

With cats being such a popular pet that is commonly kept in the western world, it is easy to see why we get so many different questions from various cat owners each month with various questions or problems relating to their cats.

One thing that does tend to make people new to keeping cats curious is if cats have dew claws on their back feet or not and we have noticed a couple of people asking about this each month.

The vast majority of cats will not have a dew claw on the back feed but most species will have a small pad in the place where the dew claw would have formed in relation to their front feet.

This is totally normal and nothing to worry about although a very small number of cats can sometimes have a dew claw on one of their back feed but this is not normal or to be expected.

Depending on the species of cat that you keep, your cat may not have the pad on its back feed either and it could only have the regular four toes with this also being considered normal in some species of cat too.

The general rule of thumb is that your cat should have a dew claw on its front feet but that it won’t have a dew claw on its back feet but it may have a pad on its back feed instead.

What Is A Cats Dew Claw?

Dew claws are the toes on the inner edge of your cat’s paw with a dew claw being slightly higher than the other four toes making it look like a tiny little thumb.

It is normal for a dew claw on a cat to not touch the floor when walking normally as they are used to provide additional traction for your cat when running at high speeds, especially on slippery surfaces.

Most modern domestic cats have no real use for their dew claw as they are provided with a steady supply of high-quality food meaning that the cat has no need to successfully hunt.

This is why it is common for veterinarians to simply remove dew claws on cats and other animals if they have an injured dew claw as it is a low risk operation and often the quickest and easiest fix for most animals if their dew claw does end up injured.

For the most part though, the majority of domesticated cats will go through life without issue with their dew claw without ever really needing to take advantage of its evolutionary use.

Many cat owners may not even realize that their pet cat has dew claws until they have had the cat for a couple of months or even years and this is why we feel that people often reach out worried due to a lack of dew claws on their cat’s rear feet.

Do Cats Have Dew Claws On Their Back Feet?

The vast majority of cat species will not have dew claws on their back feet and this is totally normal for them due to the way cats run not requiring the evolution of dew claws on their rear legs to help them run and keep traction.

A small number of cat species may grow dew claws on their rear legs but this is a very small amount and even then, not all cats from these species will not grow dew claws.

As we mentioned earlier in the article, even the cat species that can grow dew claws on their back feet may not develop a dew claw on both back feet.

This can also result in cat owners reaching out worries that there may be something wrong with their pet cat due to noticing that one of their cat’s back feet has a dew claw while the other does not. Again, this is considered normal in these species and is nothing to worry about in most cases.

That said though, you should check for signs of injury if you do notice one dew claw on the back foot of your cat and although it is more likely that the other one never developed, it may have been cut off while your cat is out of the home on its adventures.

If you can see signs of a removed dew claw on the other back foot then checking for signs of infection is important to prevent any serious health issues developing in your pet cat.

Why Do Cats Not Have A Dew Claw On Their Back Feed?

The angles of a cat’s rear legs negate the need for dew claws on their back feet due to the area where the dew claw would be rarely coming into contact with the ground when running.

The dew claws on the cat’s front feet may not touch the ground when walking but when running, especially at full speeds with a wide gait their front dew claws touch the ground to increase traction allowing the cat to maintain speed.

Over thousands and thousands of years of evolution, the front dew claw has been encoded into the DNA of a cat as a survival trait where as the need for a rear dew claw never really took hold.

You have to keep in mind that the majority of cat species originated in deserts too where they would often have to hunt in sand and not have good footing when running anyway.

This is why some scientists theories that some species of cats can rarely develop a dew claw on their back feet as those species were the last to leave the desert where a rear dew claw may have been beneficial.

The cat species who left the desert earlier have simply evolved to not develop them anymore as they have no need for them when living on firmer ground.


That brings our article going over if cats have dew claws on their back feet or not to an end. The vast majority of cats will not develop rear dew claws and this is totally normal and not a cause for concern with your own cat. A very small number of cats can develop rear dew claws but even in this situation, the cats that can develop dew claws on their back feet will often only develop one on a single rear foot rather than one on each rear foot.