In the pet grooming world, it's a dog-centric world out there. So while it is the norm to trim the hair on the paws of a dog, is it o.k. for cats?
There are a few things to consider; tradition and practicality.
The majority of dog breeds have the hair around their paws trimmed (if there is some) for practical working reasons. They are heavier and larger, the pads are deeper, and produce more sweat, therefore collect more dirt and debris around the feet. Think of the accumulative difference of snow or mud between cat and dog paws and you get the picture.
There are a couple of dog breeds that require hair on the paws NOT to be trimmed. The Pekingese and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are strictly indoor and formerly "palace" breeds whose hair slippers are prized (it's also prized for deadening the sound of nails on hard floors).
Cats, with shallow pads and being generally light of paw, do not accumulate the volume of debris and dirt comparatively unless they are already very dirty. Dirty greasy hair attracts more debris to stick to it. Regular bathing reduces paw debris.
Most people are unaware that cats have tactile hairs (whiskers) along the back ridge of the limbs and between pads. This provides feedback from the vibrations in the ground. If you feel uncomfortable about the notion of cutting the whiskers on a cat, than don't.
Cat breed standards prize the toe tuffs of cat's paws. They are fluffed up and accentuated during cat shows. But is it practical for pet owners? My advise is if it is causing a problem such as spreading letterbox debris (which can be controlled by having clean paws from regular bathing), or lack of traction for the elderly, have it trimmed. Just be aware you are trimming whiskers and creating a sharp blunt ends instead of a natural supple tapered point.
Dog groomers will automatically trim your cat's paws because that's the norm for dogs. A knowledgeable certified cat groomer won't trim toe tuffs unless you ask.
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