What Are Toe Beans?

What are toe beans?

Toe beans are the soft paw pads located on the underside of the cat’s paws. The name toe beans relates to the similarity between the cat’s paws and jelly beans. The origins of the phrase toe beans is unknown, but cat lovers and internet users have been using this endearing term for several years now.

What is the actual term for toe beans?

The small toe beans we all know and love are called digital pads, the large pad is known as the metacarpal pad on the front feet and the metatarsal pad on the hind feet. The pads names correspond with the anatomy they lie beneath; carpal > wrist, tarsal > ankle and digits > toes.

What are toe beans called?

What is the function of toe beans?

Toe beans (digital pads),  metacarpal and metatarsal pads are collectively referred to as paw pads and are made of hairless skin, adipose (fat), collagen and sweat and scent glands.

  • Cats are digitigrade, which means they walk on their toes, humans are plantigrade, as the whole of the foot touches the ground when we walk. The paw pads act as a cushion when the cat walks and runs and a shock absorber when the cat jumps down from a height, protecting the underlying bone, tendons and ligaments.
  • The toe beans enable the cat to walk and run silently which enables them to hunt down their prey.
  • Sweating helps to cool the body as it evaporates from the skin. Humans have sweat glands throughout the skin, but cats only sweat through their paw pads. You may notice little wet footprints on the floor on hot days or when the cat is nervous.
  • The carpal pad is the toe bean located on the back of the cat’s wrist. Its purpose is to provide traction when the cat comes to a sudden stop or descends a steep slope such as a tree or a fence.
  • The interdigital glands are scent glands located on the footpads which release the feline interdigital pheromone (FIS). When the cat extends the claws and scratches an object, the footpads release FIS which helps the cat to feel secure in his or her environment and marks their territory.

Fun facts about toe beans

The toe beans resemble a teddy bear

Cat toe beans look like a teddy bear

Toe beans come in many flavours

The colour of toe beans is linked to coat colour. White cats have pink toe beans due to a lack of melanin (pigment) in the skin and black cats have black toe beans, multi-coloured cats can have more than one colour on the paw pads. Internet users have had fun giving names to the different coloured toe beans.

Cat toe bean flavours

Some cats have more toe beans than normal

Ginger polydactyl cat

Cats usually have five toes on the front feet and four on the hind feet. Polydactyl cats have extra toes and toe beans.

Cat peets

Peets is an affectionate term also coined by the internet which means paws + feet.

Claw extension

If you gently press the toe beans between your thumb and fingers, the claws will extend. This is useful when trimming the claws.

Retracted and protracted cat claws

Toe beans questions and answers

How many toe beans does a cat have?

A cat has five toe beans on each front foot and four on each hindfoot. The fifth digit on the front foot is known as the dewclaw and is located on the inside of the wrist. The dewclaw does not make contact with the ground.

Do cats like it when you touch their toe beans?

Some cats don’t mind having their toe beans touched, others dislike it. It is always a good idea to get kittens used to having their feet handled to make claw trimming easier.

Do dogs have toe beans?

Yes, dogs have toe beans too.


  • Julia Wilson, 'Cat World' Founder

    Julia Wilson is the founder of Cat-World, and has researched and written over 1,000 articles about cats. She is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care. Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. Full author bio