I’ve had many cats over the years—some pure bred, but mostly mixed breeds of unknown backgrounds and I don’t recall any of them crossing their paws when they relaxed.
Olivia, our two-year-old calico crosses her paws almost every time she lies down. Why? Does it matter? Probably not, but it’s an interesting question and it’s so darn cute to see a cat crossing her paws.
I’ve read quite a bit about this trait or habit or whatever it is in cats and here are a few concepts I’ve come across. For one thing, it is thought that this trait is most common among the Maine coon breed. I had Olivia’s DNA chart done and she is, indeed, part Maine coon. I know other calicos that habitually cross their paws when they lie down. Olivia is a calico. But is that the whole story? What is it about the Maine coon and maybe some calicos that cause them to cross their paws?
Some say cats do this when they’re stressed or anxious or maybe cold. Paw-crossing makes them feel safe and warm. Others say they do this for balance—or to relax and feel more at ease. Still others believe the cat is demonstrating friendship-trust.
The theory most realistic to me is anatomy—the bone structure of the cat. I notice that when Olivia crosses her paws, one “elbow” sticks out. Could it be that a cat with a longer frame or a particular body style is simply more comfortable lying down with their paws crossed? It’s just a more comfortable position for some cats.
There are a lot of online articles discussing this topic and a barrage of cute photos of cats crossing their paws. Here are a few references:
People ask if Olivia has a preference as to which paw she crosses over. Nope–as you can see, she’s an equal opportunity paw-crosser.