Dog and Cat Tracks

January 30th, 2011 • Categories: Uncategorized1 Comment

With the advent of snow, tracks become much more evident. It becomes easier to find out what the animals in the neighborhood–both wild and domestic-have been doing. In the first of several journal entries about tracks, our household friends, dogs and cats, will be the focus.

Dog and cat tracks are quite similar in that both have four toes in each track. The tracks are evenly spaced and alternate left and right. There are several differences, however.

All canines (Domestic Dog, Red or Gray Fox, Coyote and Wolf) have feet that are oval in outline. Their claws don’t retract so they almost always show in each track. The tracks are symmetrical. The center two toes are side-by-side in the front and the side toes are evenly tucked in, beside and behind them.

Feline tracks (Domestic Cat, Bobcat, Lynx and Cougar) are round in outline. Since cats retract their claws except when making a kill or preventing a slip, their claws seldom show in the tracks. Cat tracks aren’t symmetrical. One toe leads, rather like the positioning of our fingers.

If a track is from a cat it was probably either a house cat (1” diameter) or a bobcat (2” diameter). A cougar would have a 4”-diameter track and a spacing of about 4 feet between tracks.

A dog track will either be from a Domestic Dog (varies in size according to the size of the dog. A dog’s trail wanders around exploring with no apparent purpose), a Red or Gray Fox (Tracks about 2” long, in a narrow, delicate trail.) or a Coyote (Tracks about 2 ½“long, in a straight, purposeful trail.)

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