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Why do cats have rabbit feet?

Why do cats have rabbit feet?

September 16, 2023

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Have you ever noticed how some cats seem to have feet that resemble those of rabbits? It’s not just a coincidence or an optical illusion. Certain breeds of cats, such as the Maine Coon, Pixie-Bob, and Manx, are known for their distinctive “rabbit feet.” This unique characteristic is a result of specific genetic traits passed down through generations. But why do cats have rabbit feet? Let’s dive into the fascinating world of feline genetics to find out.

The Genetics Behind Rabbit Feet in Cats

Why do cats have rabbit feet?

First off, it’s important to note that not all cats have “rabbit feet.” This trait is most commonly found in certain breeds due to specific genetic factors. According to the International Cat Association (TICA), these breeds include the Maine Coon, Pixie-Bob, and Manx.

Maine Coon Cats

Known for their large size and tufted ears, Maine Coons are also recognized for their long hind legs and big paws – characteristics that give them a rabbit-like appearance. This breed’s unique physical features are believed to have evolved to help them survive in harsh climates.

Pixie-Bob Cats

The Pixie-Bob cat breed is known for its bobbed tail and large hind feet, which can give them a bunny-like hop when they run. Some Pixie-Bobs even have an extra toe on each foot – a condition known as polydactylism – which further contributes to their distinctive foot shape.

Manx Cats

Manx cats are famous for their tailless or partially tailed appearance due to a dominant genetic mutation. But another less-known trait is their longer hind legs compared to their front legs, giving them a rabbit-like gait.

Behavioral Implications

While the rabbit-like feet of these cat breeds are often seen as an endearing physical trait, they can also influence the cats’ behavior. For instance, Maine Coons and Pixie-Bobs with their long hind legs and large paws are excellent climbers and jumpers. They’re also known to be particularly playful and active. Manx cats, on the other hand, may have a unique running style due to their longer hind legs.

Care Considerations

For cat owners or those considering adopting one of these breeds, it’s important to understand that while their rabbit-like feet are certainly charming, they may also require specific care considerations. Regular nail trims are essential to maintain their foot health, especially for polydactyl cats. Additionally, these active breeds may need more playtime and exercise opportunities to keep them physically and mentally stimulated.


In conclusion, the reason why some cats have rabbit feet is down to their specific breed and genetics. Whether it’s a Maine Coon’s large paws, a Pixie-Bob’s extra toes, or a Manx’s longer hind legs – these unique traits add to the charm and diversity of our feline friends. As cat lovers, understanding these characteristics not only deepens our appreciation for these remarkable creatures but also helps us provide them with the best possible care.

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