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Pawmistry: The Art of Paw Readings

Unlock the mysteries of your pet's personality with Pawmistry: it's like palm reading, but for pets. What can your cat or dog's paw reveal about their inner world? Let's explore together.

Dog giving woman paw

Focus. Let's gaze into the celestial realm. Could readings beyond the Earthly sphere help us better interpret our pets' behaviors? Every athletic leap and garbage-eating attempt: are they written in the stars?

The practice of paw reading is a relatively recent phenomenon that is rapidly growing in popularity. Just like how our palms can provide insights into our own future and well-being, a cat or dog's paw may hold useful information about our soulful sidekicks.

Whether you do it for fun or as an attempt to enhance your understanding of your pet, the insight you gain may be able to help enrich your pet’s life and the bond between the two of you. Let’s get into what a paw reading is, how it works, and what your pet’s paw could reveal.

What is “Pawmistry”?

For many years, palmistry has been used in foretelling the future of people all over the world, with roots in Indian astrology and gypsy fortune-telling. The goal is to evaluate a person's character or future by studying the palm. How can we do this for our pets, though?

Most people have heard of palm reading, but you may not be familiar with the lesser-known and newer practice of paw reading, or “pawmistry.” While palmistry examines the lines, mounts, and shapes of a person's palm to gain insight into their personality traits, health, and emotional life, pawmistry uses the shape, patterns, and other characteristics of your pet’s paw to reveal things about their behavior, personality, and general well-being.

What kind of info can your pet’s paw reveal?

Your pet’s paw is unique, and pawmistry says that that uniqueness can reveal a lot. Let’s break down exactly what your pet’s paw shape, patterns, and characteristics say about them.

Paw lines and features: Just as palm readers examine the lines, mounts, and shapes of the human hand, you might study the patterns of fur, skin, and paw pads on a pet’s foot. These characteristics can be interpreted in specific ways that may give us insights into aspects of our pet’s life, nature, and experiences.

Paw characteristics: Similar to how the shape and size of a human hand may reveal certain personality traits, you could attribute specific qualities of your pet to the size, shape, and appearance of a dog or cat's paw. For example, a larger paw might be linked to strength and confidence, while a smaller one could be associated with agility and curiosity.

Paw orientation: In palm reading, the dominant hand is pretty significant. Think about whether your cat or dog predominantly uses one paw or the other. The non-dominant paw, or “inactive” paw, shows personality, while the dominant, “active” paw shows how it's put into action. Observing which paw they favor could shed light on their unique characteristics and experiences.

Paw history: Typically, palmistry states that a female’s left hand represents their past and where they’ve been; for a male, his right hand. In pawmistry, you might correlate a dog or cat's left paw with their past experiences and their right paw with their current or future trajectory.

Paw symbolism: In the field of pawmistry, variations in a paw's appearance could be linked to changes or shifts in the animal's life. Studying these differences may provide insight into your pet’s well-being.

Next time you look at your pal’s paws, remember what the different lines and features can reveal. Maybe you’ll discover some fascinating insights into their personality and behavior!

Reading your pet’s paw

While there isn't an established practice of pet paw reading like there is for human palmistry, you can still engage in a fun bonding activity by examining your cat or dog's paws in a gentle and respectful manner and seeing what you learn. From puppy paws to toe beans, let’s find out what your pet’s paws are telling you.


Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to read your pup’s paw, and what some characteristics could mean.

1. Choose a paw

Typically, the left paw is used for a female paw reading, and the right paw for males.

To help your dog relax during a reading, try getting them to roll over on their back. This position makes it easier to examine and read their paw. You could also have your dog sit and hold up their paw as though you’d told them to “shake!” and read their paw that way.

On your dog’s paw, you’ll find five pads— one large pad in the center with 4 smaller pads surrounding it. When it comes to paw reading, we specifically focus on these four smaller pads.

They are considered the canine’s four main lines, known as the four major pads. Humans have the heart line, the head line, the fate line, and the life line, while a dog has the behavior pad, the life pad, the play pad, and the health pad.

2. Begin the reading

When reading your dog's pads, the leftmost pad represents their behavior, followed by the life, play, and health pads. To interpret the behavior pad, closely observe its shape. A rounded and smooth pad could mean that training will be relatively effortless, and that your dog is obedient and well-behaved. On the other hand, a rough and elongated pad may indicate that your dog is spirited and independent in nature, and they may be stubborn when it comes to training.

3. Examine the life pad

The life pad can indicate your dog’s general well-being and happiness with life. A pad that is multicolored is said to represent a long healthy life; smooth, long pads indicate vitality; almond-shaped could indicate plenty of energy.

4. Examine the play pad

The play pad is said to indicate your dog’s desire to play and interact with other dogs and people. A rough, apple-shaped pad means you may have a very playful and friendly pup. A small, smooth pad, on the other hand, points to relatively playful behavior but easily tired out.

5. Examine the health pad

Examine your dog’s health pad by looking closely at the color and shape of the pad—a pad that is long and smooth is said to represent vitality. A pear-shaped, rough pad indicates strength and enthusiasm.

Your dog’s paw will change as life goes on. Tune in occasionally to get a read on how your canine companion is feeling, but remember, paw readings are not backed by science and are meant for entertainment purposes only; any information you take away from one should not be considered medical advice. The most important thing you can do for your dog is ensure they stay healthy with a proper diet, regular exercise, and lots of love. Consult your vet if you have any concerns.


Cat paw readings are very similar to dog paw readings, but it can be a bit trickier to do with cats, especially if you’re worried about sharp claws. The first thing to remember is that you should never put your cat in an uncomfortable situation that could end up with one or both of you injured, stressed, and unhappy with one another. Paw readings are meant to bring you closer to your pet and enhance your understanding of them. That said, here’s how to get an easy, gentle, scratch-free reading from your cat’s cute little toe beans:

1. Create a calm environment

Find a quiet and comfortable space where your pet feels relaxed—approach them slowly and calmly. Pet them gently, speak softly, and allow them to become comfortable with your presence. Make sure they are in a calm state, not anxious or stressed.

2. Hold their paw

Once your cat is at ease, gently lift one of their paws. It's essential to do this slowly and softly to avoid causing any discomfort to your cat. If you can get them to lay down on their side, that may help you get a clear reading.

3. Observe paw features

Take a close look at their paw pads, fur patterns, and the shape of their adorable little toe beans. While you won't be interpreting specific lines or mounts as in human palmistry, you can still notice the uniqueness of each paw.

4. Respect your pet

Throughout the process, it's crucial to prioritize your cat's comfort. If they show any signs of discomfort, gently release their paw, and give them space. Let them calm themselves down, and don’t try again until they’re ready. Remember, never force your cat down to read their paws.

Doing a paw reading with your cat can serve as quality bonding time with your feline friend. They'll appreciate the extra attention and care you're providing.

Cat personality types

According to pawmistry, there are five main personalities indicated by the shape of a cat’s paw pads. Does your cat’s pad shape align with their personality type?

Type A cats have a little heart-shaped groove at the top of their center paw pad, which makes a lot of sense considering how sweet and affectionate they are. These friendly cats love cuddling up and have a special penchant for food.

Type B cats have a rounded top to their middle pad. These cats are outgoing and social, with a friendly, amiable demeanor. They do well in a multi-cat household and welcome the companionship of other felines. They aren’t particularly fond of human affection, although they will tolerate it.

Type C cats have a flat-topped middle pad. These cats are the introverts of the cat world. They’re naturally reserved, particularly around unfamiliar people, and prefer to be the sole cat in their household. They love doing their own thing and spending long, lazy afternoons napping in the rays of sun shining through the window.

Type D cats have a bit of a more subtly, less pronounced flat top than Type C. These cats embody the classic image of aloof creatures that we often see in media and encounter in our own lives. Gaining their respect will require dedication and effort. They are independent, aloof, and tolerant only of humans they deem worthy.

Type E cats have triangular paw pads. According to pawmistry, they can be quite eccentric. Type E cats are rare, hyperactive, territorial, and loud. Since they can be aggressive, especially with other cats, it’s smart to provide individual feeding bowls, litter boxes, cat trees, and beds specifically for type E cats.

By reading your cat’s paw, recognizing their traits, and understanding the symbolism, you may be able to better meet your curious copilots' needs and provide them with a home they’ll thrive in.

While the concept of paw readings may captivate our imaginations, it's important to recognize that it lacks a scientific basis or established tradition like human palmistry. Any interpretations of a cat or dog's paw features should be taken with a lighthearted spirit and not mistaken for a definitive method of understanding their behavior or future. But hey, any chance to bond with our pets is never a waste of time.

Interested in understanding more about your pet’s behavior, health, or personality beyond their readings? It's generally recommended to consult with a veterinarian or behaviorist who can provide you with accurate and science-based information so you can give your pet a stellar, healthy life.

Annie Turner is the senior copywriter and editor at ASPCA Pet Health Insurance. Based out of Columbus, Ohio, she loves synonyms, enjoys painting rocks for her kids to hide in their garden of towering sunflowers, and rocks a mean messy bun.

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