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What kind of footwear would be worn by a race of anthropomorphic cats in a fantasy setting? They live as a roughly medieval society in a temperate climate, and their feet have the same shape as cat paws.

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  • $\begingroup$ Where do these cats live? Climate and terrain make a big difference in the answer. $\endgroup$ Jan 9, 2020 at 14:25
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    $\begingroup$ @MorrisTheCat can't you just say what are you wearing on your feet right now? $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    Jan 9, 2020 at 14:59
  • $\begingroup$ @VLAZ well, if I were somewhere that wasn't going to get my paws wet I'd be wearing something different, wouldn't I?? I also don't think this is the answer OP is looking for: cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/1180/3866/products/… $\endgroup$ Jan 9, 2020 at 15:08

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Cats are digitigrade, they'd be better off without shoes.

Crocs

Claws are important to cats, the holes in crocs would allow them to use their claws even while wearing shoes.

Moccasins

Cats are quiet walkers, moccasins would allow them to keep moving silently. Claw holes can be allowed for.

Clogs or other hard shoes (wood, leather or otherwise)

These are civilised cats, they make a point of being nosy as they walk to distinguish themselves from their wilder cousins who need to stalk their prey silently. Moving noisily is a symbol of status. Claws are not allowed for as again they're a sign of wilder times.

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    $\begingroup$ This makes me think that "gentry" might deliberately wear bells or other noise-making artifacts, besides or in addition to noisy footwear... $\endgroup$
    – Matthew
    Jan 9, 2020 at 16:10
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    $\begingroup$ How does the digitigrade/planitgrade distinction affect suitability for shoes? $\endgroup$ Jan 9, 2020 at 17:46
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    $\begingroup$ @NuclearWang, bipedal walking on toes is likely to be more sensitive to any imbalance, sensitivity of the feet is significantly reduced by shoes put the two together and balance and agility suffers significantly. $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Jan 9, 2020 at 19:01
  • $\begingroup$ For those who don't know, "digitigrade" is just Latin for "walks on toes". $\endgroup$ Feb 18, 2020 at 17:50
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Sandals. Cats back legs claws don't rectract and hide like the front ones. So the footwear would need to allow them moving out when running or climbing. Also having 4 claws in the "foot" would allow to wear Ninja like footwear with a thong in the middle.

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Will they wear shoes at all?

Wild cats don't wear shoes. Not all humans wear shoes. Poorer individuals, and ones living in the country (where they aren't walking on rocks and possibly sharp bits of discarded metal or glass) probably won't wear shoes at all, if indeed anyone does. Shoes will make it harder for your felinoids to use their claws. (OTOH, you can play that up as a social status thing, per Separatrix' answer.)

So... why might they were shoes? Aside from pure ostentation, shoes are useful for protecting paws (which are not as tender as you think if they aren't pampered) if your environment is unnaturally hazardous, which might be the case in cities, especially as industry starts to develop. It might also be occupation specific, e.g. I could see the blacksmith wearing boots (at least while working) even if no one else does. Shoes can also help keep water, or worse, off your paws. Part of the reason humans wear shoes is for "hygienic" purposes (although I wonder about this, at least in cultures that don't tend to take their shoes off indoors), although if your cats are still obligate carnivores, this is probably less of an issue for them.

In your setting, I would consider not just what shoes are worn, but when and by whom, because you will most likely have a mix of shod and unshod cat people.

Okay... so what kind of shoes?

We make shoes for dogs in a wide variety of styles, from very simple to ones that are just as complex as human shoes. (Cat shoes aren't as popular, but probably because a) it would be hard because of cats' smaller size, and b) indoor cats don't need shoes, and outdoor cats don't tend to get the same sort of completely unnecessary attention as dogs. Keep in mind that dog shoes are as much or more for the owners' benefit as for the dog's.)

There's no reason to think that a race of felinoids wouldn't be equally capable. Of course, you specified "a roughly medieval society", so leather moccasins and wooden clogs/sandals are more likely. Deliberately limiting use of their claws as a status symbol seems entirely plausible; this would be seen in more "gentrified" people, while those "closer to the land" (farmers, ranchers, hunters, trappers, etc.) will want to be able to use their claws.

p.s. Yes, you'll have farmers. They grow the stuff that food eats 😉.

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  • $\begingroup$ "Not all humans wear shoes" Depends on a climate. If winter is coming and one doesn't have shoes, it could be the last winter. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Jan 9, 2020 at 17:34
  • $\begingroup$ If a cat HAD a way to keep their paws from getting wet when it's rainy outside, you'd better believe they'd use it. $\endgroup$ Jan 9, 2020 at 17:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Alexander, yes, but wild cats survive the winter without footwear. The difference of course is that they have fur. The OP didn't specify if the cats in question have fur or not, but if they do, they may be okay climate-wise. $\endgroup$
    – Matthew
    Jan 9, 2020 at 18:14
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Depends on the season

In mild or warm weather, cat people would were shoes that expose their claws, or wear no shoes at all (although the latter may be viewed with disdain). Other answers had suggested a number of options for that, like sandals.

In cold weather, or when the roads are particularly dirty, shoes with openings are becoming a trap for water and dirt, making them very impractical. If dirt is the only issue, very open sandals might do, but as the temperature goes below freezing, closed shoes is the only option for a "civilized" individual. Cat people would have to sacrifice their ability to use claws and wear human-like boots with no openings at the bottom.

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Instead of using their own claws, as the other Answers suggest, I would think they would want to protect their claws and project a more pronounced claw.

City dwellers

If these cats are anything like humans, they will have some sort of inferiority complex, which of course extends to every part of them, including their claws. They would wear large faux claws on their shoes to hide their "inferior" claws, just like when a guy crotch stuffs or a woman wears a padded/lifting bra.

Because the claws wouldn't get wore down normally, they would require regular pedicures, which would also go to enhance their claws. This includes male cats, too. They'd have them filed down to sharp points, painted wild colors, and even have fake nail claw extensions.

Want substantial claws, go for the eagle talon. Or for those who want real class, our silver, gold, or platinum line claws are an absolute must!

FYI, gold, silver, and even platinum were used well before medieval times.

https://www.providentmetals.com/knowledge-center/collectible-coins/platinum-history.html

Rural folk

Just like the city people, these cat-folk would have the fancy go-to-meeting shoes that everyone else wears. However, they would generally have more rugged shoes to prevent accidents, for more padding, and for more actual grip.

These shoes would be considered work boots, which would include steel claws, rough leather, straps, water proofing, and hard rubber soles. The steel claws would not only protect against dropping things on their feet. They would also provide better traction, without wearing out or breaking so easily, and with the ability to be resharpened and replaced. The straps would allow for better binding to the leg, so the shoes don't strip off when needing the extra grip of the steel claws. And water proofing, because blech, water.

Our boots offer the latest in grip technology, which reacts to your own claws extending, shooting out an extra inch of claw to give you better traction when you need it. Get them in stainless steel, to prevent corrosion and to make cleaning easier.

Steel was also available before medieval times. Sure, stainless steel wasn't available until 1920's, but this provides a possible bridge to modern times.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferrous_metallurgy

Rubber was first invented in 1600 BCE, in Mexico, but who says the Americas weren't discovered earlier by the cat people? This is a fantasy story.

https://quatr.us/science/rubber-history-rubber.htm

Design

The shoes would be designed to hold each toe independently, so they would maintain the flexibility and balance a cat-person would require. Taller boots would include a cutout/spacing or pouch for their hind claw. Some shoes may include customized faux fur to blend in with the fur of the individual.

Of course there are small cats and large cats, so there would likely be heels and platform shoes, since some cats are just as vain humans and of course could care more about their height than their balance, just like humans.

Our Tigger(R) brand shoes give you the extra bounce and vivid colors you need to bring all the toms to your yard. You meow, girl!

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    $\begingroup$ Cat claws grow in layers; every now and then, the outer layer gets shucked off. Filing is counterproductive. They could easily have scratching boards that they run their toeclaws through every now and then to get rid of the outer layers. $\endgroup$
    – Matthew
    Jan 9, 2020 at 18:21
  • $\begingroup$ While you have some interesting ideas, I am downvoting because much of your answer assumes a technology level that doesn't exist until modern times. The OP specified "a roughly medieval society". There is no rubber, no stainless steel, and dyes are limited. Also, if we're still talking about digitigrade critters, there will be no such thing as high heels; heels are a way of forcing plantigrade feet into a digitigrade posture. $\endgroup$
    – Matthew
    Jan 9, 2020 at 18:22
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    $\begingroup$ @Matthew, from what I see, women don't really care about the position of their feet, they simply want to get taller, and better posture is a side effect. Whether it's because of "digitigrade" or whatever is irrelevant. Also, I've added a few things to address your other concerns. $\endgroup$ Jan 9, 2020 at 18:41
  • $\begingroup$ I'm pretty sure that, for humans, trying to walk on your toes all the time is worse posture, not better. For cats, though, it doesn't matter; they're already standing on their toes; their shoes may not even extend to the heel, much less have devices on the heel intended to make them "taller". (Platform shoes might be plausible, though again, I can't recall those existing in the middle ages. To an extent, that degree of vanity is a product of modern luxury.) $\endgroup$
    – Matthew
    Jan 9, 2020 at 18:47
  • $\begingroup$ @Matthew, you might want to look at image searching for "medieval shoes". There's a lot of even "commoner" footwear that includes extra long or curved toes, as well as lace-up thigh boots. Then there's world4.eu/medieval-shoe-king-john-ii-france, which includes "platform" risers. Since they are anthropomorphic, they'd also walk on only the hind feet, so height between races would be exaggerated even more. Wouldn't a ruling Mau want at least some height gain on a General Lion? $\endgroup$ Jan 9, 2020 at 19:03
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Probably something like ballet shoes, with slits for the claws. As others have said, their back claws don't fully retract and they do use the claws for improved traction etc. If your cats are anything like RL ones though, they will hate wearing them!

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