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What’s the Difference Between a Cat’s Footprint and Dog’s Footprint?

What’s the Difference Between a Cat’s Footprint and Dog’s Footprint? If you’ve ever noticed the difference between a dog’s and cat’s footprints in your yard, you may have wondered why. After all, both cats and dogs have four legs with five toes on each foot. What distinguishes a cat’s footprint from a dog’s, then? Typically, a cat’s footprint is rounder than a dog’s. This is because cats nearly usually walk on their toes, whereas dogs walk on the ball of their paws. Since cats spend most of their time resting or sleeping on the backs of sofas, it makes sense that their footprints would be rounder.

Additionally, given that many dogs are prone to licking themselves clean, as opposed to cats who prefer munching on insects and other small critters for cleaning purposes, the fact that dogs walk with more weight distributed toward the front of their paws is no surprise.

What is the Size Difference Between a Cat’s Footprint and Dog’s Footprint?

When it comes to the size of a dog’s footprint versus a cat’s, there is actually very little difference between the two. A dog’s paw print is typically between 1 and 2 inches long, while a cat tends to be 1 and a half inches long. A dog’s footprint is about as wide as it is long, but cats usually get wider toward the toes. This is because the cat’s paws are designed to help them balance on narrow ledges and other precarious surfaces. While you might think that the larger size of a dog’s paw would leave more of an impression on the ground than a cat’s, their softer pads actually make their print smaller.

Why Are Dog Footprints Shaped Differently Than a Cat’s?

The biggest difference between a dog’s and a cat’s footprint is the weight distribution of each animal’s foot. A cat’s foot can only hold about 30% of its body weight, compared to a dog’s foot which can sustain up to 60% of the weight of the animal. Dogs typically walk with less force and pressure on their toes to make a wider and deeper imprint. A cat, on the other hand, walks more on its toes, leaving a smaller and rounder print.

Cats Have Claw Marks in Their Print While Dogs Don’t

Another significant difference between a dog’s footprint and a cat’s footprint has to do with the claws. While dogs rarely walk around with their claws extended, cats almost always have their claws out. Cats are designed to climb trees in order to hunt birds and rodents. In contrast to dogs, cats nearly always have their claws extended, producing scratch marks on the bottoms of their feet. A cat’s extended claws are located on the outside edge of its paws. Since dogs walk on their toes as well, their claws are therefore inside the edges of their paws.


The claws are another important distinction between the footprints of a dog and a cat. Dogs hardly ever walk around with their claws extended, but cats almost never do. To hunt birds and rodents, cats are built to climb trees. Unlike dogs, cats almost never walk around without their claws extended, leaving scratch marks on the soles of their feet. The outside edges of a cat’s paws are where its extended claws are located. Dogs’ claws are located inside the edges of their paws because they also walk on their toes.


There are many differences between a cat’s footprint and a dog’s footprint. A dog’s paw print is typically wider than it is long while a cat tends to be the opposite. Due to weight distribution, a dog’s footprint is usually deeper than a cat’s, and a cat’s claws are usually visible in their tracks. While you may have many times found a dog’s footprint or a cat’s footprint in your yard, you may not have understood why they looked so different. Knowing the distinction between a dog’s and a cat’s footprints will help you identify the animal that may be visiting your yard.

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