The biomechanical characteristics of a feline distal forelimb: a finite element analysis study

Meizi Wang, Yang Song, Julien S. Baker, Gusztáv Fekete, Ukadike Chris Ugbolue, Shudong Li, Yaodong Gu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
39 Downloads (Pure)


As a typical digitigrade mammal, the uniquely designed small distal limbs of the feline support two to three times of its body weight during daily movements. To understand how force transmission occurs in relation to the distal joint in a feline limb, which transfers bodyweight to the ground, it is necessary to examine the internal stress distribution of the distal joint limb in detail. Therefore, finite element models (FEM) of a healthy feline were established to predict the internal stress distribution of the distal limb. The FEM model included 23 bony components, various cartilaginous ligaments, as well as the encapsulated soft tissue of the paw. The FEM model was validated by comparison of paw pressure distribution, obtained from an experiment for balance standing. The results demonstrated a good agreement between the experimentally measured and numerically predicted pressure distribution in the feline paw. Additionally, higher stress levels were noted in the metacarpal segment, with smaller stresses observed in the phalanges portion including the proximal, middle, and distal segments. The raised metacarpal segment plays an important role in creating a stiff junction between the metacarpophalangeal (MCP) and wrist joint, stabilizing the distal limb. The paw pads help to optimize stress distribution in phalanx region. Findings from this study contribute to our understanding of feline distal forelimb biomechanical behavior. This information can be applied to bionic design of footwear since an optimal stiff junction and pressure distribution can be adapted to enhance injury relief and sports activities. Further developments may include progress, evaluation, and treatment of metatarsophalangeal joint injuries in human populations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104174
Number of pages6
JournalComputers in Biology and Medicine
Early online date11 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2021


  • bionic footwear
  • feline distal joint
  • feline distal limb
  • finite element model
  • inner stress distribution


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