cat with wet paw

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

You may notice that your cat sometimes shakes her paws as if she’s just stepped into a puddle of water. The sight of shaking cat paws can be amusing, and it’s a behavior that often puzzles owners. Why does a cat twitch her paws when there’s nothing visibly wrong?

Cats use a unique language to communicate, and paw shaking is a part of it. From playful tendencies to health concerns, cats may be shaking their paws to communicate or alleviate discomfort. Here, we dive into a few common reasons.

Key Points

  • Cats may shake their paws for various reasons, including play and hunting, grooming, sensory responses, or to dry their paws.
  • While occasional paw shaking might not be a cause for concern, more serious issues such as allergies, skin infections, chronic conditions, or pain can also cause your cat to shake its paws.
  • Always consult a vet if you’re unsure why your cat is shaking its paws, or if the behavior is new, frequent, or accompanied by other signs of distress.

Reasons Why Cats Shake Their Paws

Play and Hunting

Cats like to engage in play and often shake their toys around. This behavior extends to their paws. A feline may shake its paws as a way of engaging with toys or during hunting simulations.

So, if you see your cat vigorously shake its paws while playing, it’s probably just having a good time!

Drying Her Paws

Sometimes, a cat may also shake her wet paws simply to dry them. If your cat’s paws are wet after a dip in a water bowl or a stroll in the rain, a good shake can help get them dry.


Grooming is an integral part of a cat’s routine, and shaking their paws can be a part of it.

After visiting the litter box, for instance, your cat may shake its paws to get rid of any clumps of cat litter stuck to its paw. Likewise, if a cat goes outside and steps in the dirt, shaking helps to clean its paw pads.

Sensory Response

Cats sometimes shake their paws when they come across a new or unexpected sensory experience. If a cat steps onto a new texture or gets their paws wet, she may shake her paws to get rid of the unfamiliar sensation.

Health Concerns

On a more serious note, health concerns can also cause a cat to shake its paws. On a more serious note, health concerns can also cause a cat to shake its paws. Allergies or skin infections, for example, can cause discomfort that your cat may try to alleviate by shaking its paws.

Discomfort or Pain

If you notice your cat is shaking its paws frequently, it may indicate discomfort or pain. Conditions like muscle spasms, arthritis, injuries, infections, or neurological issues could cause paw pain and result in your cat shaking their paws.


One particularly impactful health issue related to paw shaking is declawing. Declawing, unfortunately, involves the removal of a portion of your cat’s knuckle, and is one of the most sensitive topics among cat owners.

Complications from declawing can lead to paw pain, and cats may shake their paws after being declawed in an attempt to relieve pain.

cat with dirty paw

Practical Tips for Cat Owners

Understanding why a cat may shake its paws can make all the difference in supporting their well-being. Here are some practical tips to help you decipher your cat’s behavior and act when necessary.


Observation is the first step. Be attentive and notice your cat’s behavior. If your cat shakes its paw occasionally, it may not be a cause for concern. However, if your cat is still shaking its paws frequently or appears in distress, it’s important to take note.

If you see your cat frequently shaking its paws, take a closer look. Are the paw pads clean and free from debris? Are your cat’s front paws and back paws wet, indicating your cat stepped in the water?

Maybe there’s something stuck on the claw causing discomfort. Paying attention to these details can help you understand if there’s a simple explanation or if it’s a cause for concern.


Another helpful tip is to maintain good hygiene for your cat’s paws. If you see your cat shaking its paws after using the litter box or after a trip outside, you may want to assist them in cleaning her paws to make sure no small pieces of litter or debris cause discomfort.

Consult with a Vet

Lastly, it’s always essential to have a trusted vet in your corner. If you notice your cat frequently shaking its paws, especially if this is a new behavior, it may be time to consult a vet.

It’s not always easy to determine the cause of paw shaking at home, and a vet can provide professional advice and a proper diagnosis if necessary. It’s better to be safe and ensure your cat isn’t in any discomfort.

Even if you believe the shaking isn’t related to any serious condition, taking your cat to the vet for a quick check-up can provide peace of mind.


To sum up, there’s a variety of reasons why your cat may shake its paws, ranging from simple grooming routines to more serious health issues. As a responsible cat owner, understanding these reasons is crucial to ensure the health and happiness of your feline friend.

It’s key to remember that every cat is unique. Some cats may also shake their paws more frequently than others. Observing your pet’s habits and knowing when behavior shifts can help you spot any potential issues early.

However, if you’re ever unsure about why your cat is shaking its paws, or if your cat is still shaking its paws more than usual, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Always consult a vet if you’re concerned about your cat’s well-being. After all, there’s no substitute for professional advice.

Keep an eye out for the subtle signs and take care of your cat’s paws, as they are among the most sensitive parts of a cat’s body. And remember, while paw shaking can be common, excessive shaking may be a sign that your cat is trying to relieve pain or discomfort.

Written by Tom Cashman

I have grown up with pets for almost fifty years. My family has strong ties to the animal shelter community in Chicago. Currently I have two cats: an orange tabby named Zelda, and a gray mixed named Zander. Like all of my pets, they were adopted from a local animal shelter. Pet Zone represents my passion for sharing with the pet community.

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