When my American Short Hair (7 years old, slightly underweight if anything) jumps up into her cage (about 70 cm or so off the floor, or leaping over a metre from the adjacent cat tree) when she knows it's time for food, after turning round to look for the food almost every time she'll shake a front paw (always, I think, the right) for just a second or less.

There's no extra actions like licking the paw or looking at it or looking sorry (although impending meals probably override that reaction!), but I just worry she might have rheumatism or some other age-related disorder. She's never been very active, and in normal activity I don't notice anything. Or am I just worrying too much as it's just a habit she's got into?

  • Have you examined her paw? Try manipulating both paws, and see if she reacts more strongly to having one paw touched.
    – mhwombat
    Apr 30, 2014 at 0:37
  • The below answers cover most physiological and psychological causes, but if they are all ruled out I wouldn't rule out the possibility that this is just a mental "tick" your cat has.
    – Stig Tore
    May 22, 2017 at 12:04

3 Answers 3


Usually paw shaking is either a sign of pain or disgust.

I'm not really sure from your description, is she looking at the bowl (when it's food time) but it's empty and then shaking her paw? If that's the case my guess is that she's annoyed that her food bowl is empty.

7 is pretty young to develop a joint condition (especially since she isn't overweight), but to be sure you could take her to the vet.


Paws are very sensitive... more sensitive than your hands. Landing on them can cause pain and/or that "ringing" you might experience if you hit your elbow ("hit ones funny bone").

This can be exacerbated by age, arthritis, or other conditions.

If you want to diminish this you can provide a soft thing to land on. I often find that my "grrls" will preferentially jump onto soft surfaces.

Your cat could have arthritis, rheumatism (as you suggest). As Beo suggests being overweight could contribute.

Even in the absence of any conditions cats deal with this differently, some may experience more pain than others.

If you're concerned you could take her to the vet, but, unless it is something odd the vet can't do much. Still it might be better to rule out anything else bad....

There are medicines for arthritis / rheumatism. There are lickable oils with glucosamine that could help your cat. With the cat I had who go to 22, she seemed to show some slight improvement from glucosamine (she didn't shake her paws but did have decreased mobility, probably from pain).


Bigger cats as well as cats getting a little older (like 7) can experience a bit of joint pain when stressing their joints by jumping. The same applies to people and any other animal. This could also just be a bit of stiffness, a cramp, or what people describe as a "crick." This is normal and will not show up on a visit to the vet unless there is significant inflammation or joint damage. Since your cat is just shaking its foot a bit it does not sound like anything significant.

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