Who needs toe beans when you’ve got spatulae?

People are always going on and on about the itsie-bitsie cutesy-wootsy toe beans that cats have. I don’t get it — those are the ends of the limbs a predator uses to kill its prey, and they aren’t particularly interesting structurally.

Far better are the complex sticky hairs spiders use to climb. Not only are they cute, but they’ve been written up in a mechanical engineering journal. Point: spiders.

Don’t believe me? Look at these adorable little tootsies!


See? Cute!


  1. René says

    I’ll click the bait. (Long-time cat’s pet here.) Clearly PZ has never experienced the joy of ‘playing’ (for want of a better word) with a relaxed purring cat‘s claw. Even to the point it will claw its nails in your hand, just not hurting you.

    It’s better than the lucky charm of a rabbit’s foot, that was a fad among youngsters — when I was one.

  2. wzrd1 says

    Those appear to be a touch more durable than the gecko’s system. Makes sense, as the only maintenance possible for the spider is molting.

  3. René says

    Ectopically @myself in #4 for Birger, who I fully expect to be a cats’ person: See what I did there? Separating my paragraphs without the need to squeeze in a rather funny full stop? Just enter shift-return shift-return in between your paragraphs. Cheerio!

  4. Le Chifforobe says

    Whoa whoa whoa!! It’s not really about the relative cuteness, is it?

    Schaber says his lab tested another application. The scientists covered a glove in tiny spider hairs, in different directions. That glove could support the weight of a person. Sticking anywhere. With such a glove, anyone could develop the superpowers of a spider.

  5. birgerjohansson says

    René @ 6
    A good thing about feline toe beans is, when you are asleep and your pet walks across your face, it tends to soften the impact.
    Unless you get a foot in your mouth, shedding a lot of fur in the process. By the time you have spat out the hair, you will be fully awake.

  6. René says

    @8 I never had to spit out out fur. You are into long-haired misbred? My cat heaven was sleeping with my neutered Cyper (european short-hair) under the duvet. He died in the early eighties. I can still feel my toes on his warm furry belly.

  7. davidc1 says

    Another thing ,the cat’s paw is a normal photo ,while them spiders are X plus .
    How about a magnified cat’s paw ,or maybe a cat’s tongue .

  8. cartomancer says

    Point of order – cats use their limbs to hold the prey in place – the mouth is used for the killing.

  9. Rob Grigjanis says

    chigau: Right, but it’s not the only way a big cat can kill.

    This same action [bunny kick] may also be offensively aggressive, as seen when cats capture their prey. It does not always result in the prey being killed but a prelude to the ‘play’ that follows with the cat tossing them around.


    Kauffman was wary of the mountain lion’s hind legs thrashing like a rabbit once the animal was on its back — something he’s seen his house cat do. He knew he had to get the mountain lion’s hind legs pinned to protect his “guts” and groin, so he maneuvered himself on top of the cat to pin its back legs with his leg.

    I can’t find a link, but a BC woman was killed in this manner by a cougar some years ago.

  10. WhiteHatLurker says

    These are vegetarian spiders?

    What is with castigating felines for being obligate carnivores, but the spiders are given a free pass because they don’t eat cute little birds(*) or something? Why not pick on omnivores like wild boars or humans? They at least deserve some bad press.

    (*) Don’t look at this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3g3cbIR_vuA
    (not real spider)

  11. birgerjohansson says

    Capybaras are cute and deserve more attention. There is lots of capybara content on Youtube (posted in Japanese, but it is the footage that is important). Fun fact; capybaras are so gregarious they get along with other species. If you have a traumatised dog or cat, a capybara is great company.

  12. Silentbob says

    I like how everyone’s just ignoring comment #7 as though we haven’t just fallen through a portal into the MCU.

  13. cartomancer says

    My cat only eats dry cat food, cheese and moths. There isn’t a lot of disembowelling needed for those.

  14. davidc1 says

    I saw something about a Chinese trapdoor spider ,it’s rear end that it use to block the entrance to it’s burrow ,looks
    like one of those disgusting Oreo biscuits you Americans are so fond of .

  15. birgerjohansson says

    Silentbob @ 19
    I am thinking about the possibilities for a reboot of the terminator franchise, with cyberdyne systems machines climbing walls.
    GM: Capybaras that climb walls! Cows grazing on rooftop gardens and pooping on the streets below.

  16. birgerjohansson says

    Big effing cats.
    There is a Russian couple who adopted a sick puma from a zoo, and nursed it back to health. Youtube has the video “Messi the puma is a big ol’ house cat”. It even listens to commands, which is unexpected.