Cat paws = teddy bears

May 7, 2015 • 4:30 pm

This picture from imageshack is surely a Photoshop job, but it’s still clever. Maybe an industrious reader would want to try it on their own cat and send me the results (no prize here; just my undying appreciation).

I am not responsible for the missing apostrophe.


h/t: Diane G.

28 thoughts on “Cat paws = teddy bears

    1. I know that I can get (quite coarse) white pens from the welder’s shack, but I’d be a bit dubious about the cat (or other animal) licking the ink off and ingesting it. So I’d hie me down to a place where they sell toddlers toys (toddlers because they allegedly eat anything not nailed down, and rip up anything nailed down) and find white pens there.
      Plus catnip-asthesia, if it works for Orson.
      Do you have a cart to go before Orson?

        1. Not my friend – though I do have a friend known as iSteve because he’ll buy iAnything even if it’s not iWhite.
          I can use the Gimp if need be, but I prefer to spend my time trying to get the photo right, rather than fixing it afterwards.
          My draughtsmanship is workable, but take away the straight edge and compasses and I’m pretty stuffed.

      1. He’s unimpressed by catnip, and due to his size and dislike of having his paws messed with I’m going to forgo drawing on his pads. It’s at least a two person operation, and would require a can of apology food.

  1. Obviously, the grocer’s stole the apostrophe!

    I’d pretend to attempt to take a pen to Baihu’s paws…but his are all black and I have no white pens.


        1. Both, plus The Man Booker Prize…He’s a beautiful big tuxedo kitty of a lug. He’s already got a little black freckle on one pink pad, so I’m going to try to add another eye and a mouth, and Bob’s your uncle!

              1. Now you know🐾🐾
                Booker’s been avoiding me since I inspected his pink pads. Cats sense when weird stuff’s going on.

  2. Okay…here’s an evolutionary biology question.

    It’s been an hundred million years since cats and humans last shared a common ancestor, and polydactyly is not unheard of in either species. Yet we both overwhelmingly share the same number of digits, with the feline equivalent of the thumb moving towards becoming vestigial.

    Why should there be such a strong preservation of the number of digits over such a long period of time?


    1. I think it’s pretty clear that 5 is plenty of digits for most purposes, many animals have fewer (birds, sheep, horses etc), but the only one I can think of with more is the panda which grew another thumb, because reasons. It didn’t actually need more digits, it just needed a thumb and this was they way it got one. Growing more digits is a waste of resources so it doesn’t stick. Fewer digits is a good idea if you can do without them.

      Cats, if you think about it, appear to be on the way to only four fingers in front, the thumb has moved way up the leg to where it serves only to slash away at a rival during a fight, and probably isn’t much good for that I suspect. It certainly is no use for walking. So give it a few more million years and cats may only have four digits on the front legs. Patience is the key!

    2. The biology of developing feet and hands is moderately complex. More complex than I can remember in any detail, but I do recall that one of S.J.Gould’s essays covered it in some detail. [Googling to get the essay’s title]
      As I recall, there is a gradient of [geneticly-controlled, some signalling molecule] that originates at the end of one forearm/ foreleg bone but not the other, and in response the [ridge of cells that defines the growing axis of the limb] apical crest (?). At intervals along that gradient, a digit develops, with it’s characteristic set of phalanges, tarsals, meta-piggies and unguals, as appropriate. The general gradient is controlled by genetics, but like so many biological systems, there is a fair degree of “slop” in the system. If there is then a selective drive (e.g. fast running, making a more cursorial gait advantageous) then the sharpness and frequency of the response to the gradient is altered leading to digit reduction. (Horses, theropods.) But for many animals the cost in fitness of having an excess of digits is not that high, and so variation about the norm for that response is broader than for more critical developmental gradients. Hence a degree of polydactyly is not too surprising. Hemmingway’s polydactyl cats seem pretty capable of living as cats ; polydactyl humans don’t seem to suffer severely excessive mortality. Polydactyl horses (was it Caligula or Julius Caesar who had a polydactyl horse?) are by no means unknown.
      The surprising thing, and the subject of the polydactyly Gould essay I’m recalling is that one of the earliest (semi-)terrestrial vertebrates known, Acanthostega, had IIRC eight digits on the foot and 6 or 7 on the front, and another near-contemporary, Ichthyostega, had IIRC 6 and 7 respectively. So ancestrally, land-dwelling vertebrates didn’t necessarily have pentadactyl limbs, probably.
      Much the same process, developmentally, goes on to develop the fin-rays of the teleost fishes, and it appears to be a basal character of vertebrates – present in all vertebrates. If you think about it, it seems very similar to the serial development of segmentation along a body axis as seen in the 30-odd (and itself slightly variable) vertebrae of humans compared to the 200-odd of snakes.
      I think the essay is “Eight Little Piggies“, but I’m straining the rig’s internet connection to read anything.
      I’m trying to remember the digit counts on Tiktaalik. And I’m failing. But it’s lunch time.

      1. Thanks — and to Marella, too. Not many places can I ask an evolutionary biology question on a post about the resemblance between cat paws and teddy bears and expect and receive solid answers!


        1. The answer might have sounded solid to you, but I could feel the sands of evo-devo sliding under my feet!

  3. I attempted, with black ballpoint, to draw another black spot on Booker T’s pink pad, but he was having none of it. Ya gotta pick your battles…

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