Cat's paw (knot)

Last updated
Cat's paw
Category Hitch
Origin Ancient
Related girth hitch, lark's foot, cow hitch
Releasing Non-jamming
Typical useAttaching a rope to a hook or ring
ABoK #1891

The Cat's paw is a knot used for connecting a rope to an object. It is very similar to the cow hitch except there is an additional twist on each side of the bight, making it less prone to slipping.


The cat's-paw is the common hook hitch for slings. It is the same basic form as the bale sling hitch but has additional twists. Brady says "two or three altogether," and Steel, who mentioned the name in 1794, says "three twists." It is the best of all sling hitches and is often recommended for a slippery rope. But no hitch can slip when tied in a slings since it has no ends. All that is needed is a hitch that cannot jam, and this requirement the cat's-paw fills admirably. The knot spills instantly when removed from the hook. It is the hitch always used for heavy lifts.



In one method of tying, it can be pre-formed in the middle of the rope, then slid over the end of a post or rail.

In an alternative method, a line with an accessible end and an eye can be attached to another eye, ring or rail with inaccessible ends.

The knot balances the load between the two hitches, and is used in wharfs and docks. If one hitch fails, the other hitch should hold until the load can be safely and swiftly lowered to the ground[ citation needed ].


Formed from a bight turned up over itself (like a girth hitch) but with an extra twist on each side. In variations, there may be multiple extra twists.


Method 1

Form a bight in the middle of the line, and pull it back over itself like a girth hitch. This forms two loops, turned in opposite directions. Convert each loop into an elbow by adding a twist in the direction that will tend to tighten them (the wrong direction will undo the loop completely). Pass both elbow over the hook, rail or post and pull tight, taking care to push the bight up snugly against the turns.

Method 2

If working end of the line has an eye in it, and the standing end is accessible, the knot can be tied to a closed ring, another eye, or a rail with inaccessible ends, as follows. Pass the eye around the ring or rail, then pass the standing end through its own eye (this effectively forms a girth hitch). Then pass the standing end through the eye again, and pull up tight, taking care to push the bight up snugly against the turns.

When using the cat's paw to join two eyes, this process may be repeated several times to give several turns - as many as five in a fine fishing monofilament. Then when tightened, instead of pulling the bight up against the turns, both eyes are pulled equally, to make neat coils of turns in both eyes, meeting halfway between them.

See also

Related Research Articles

Knot Method of fastening or securing linear material

A knot is an intentional complication in cordage which may be useful or decorative. Practical knots may be classified as hitches, bends, splices, or knots. A hitch fastens a rope to another object; a bend unites two rope ends; a splice is a multi-strand bend or loop. A knot in the strictest sense serves as a stopper or knob at the end of a rope to keep that end from slipping through a grommet or eye. Knots have excited interest since ancient times for their practical uses, as well as their topological intricacy, studied in the area of mathematics known as knot theory.

Millers knot

A miller's knot is a binding knot used to secure the opening of a sack or bag. Historically, large sacks often contained grains; thus the association of these knots with the miller's trade. Several knots are known interchangeably by these three names.

Constrictor knot type of binding knot

The constrictor knot is one of the most effective binding knots. Simple and secure, it is a harsh knot that can be difficult or impossible to untie once tightened. It is made similarly to a clove hitch but with one end passed under the other, forming an overhand knot under a riding turn. The double constrictor knot is an even more robust variation that features two riding turns.

Sheepshank knot

A shank is a type of knot that is used to shorten a rope or take up slack, such as the sheepshank. The sheepshank knot is not stable. It will fall apart under too much load or too little load.

Clove hitch type of knot

The clove hitch is a type of knot. Along with the bowline and the sheet bend, it is often considered one of the most important knots and is commonly referred to as a Double Hitch. A clove hitch is two successive half-hitches around an object. It is most effectively used as a crossing knot. It can be used as a binding knot, but is not particularly secure in that role. A clove hitch made around the rope's own standing part is known as either two half-hitches or buntline hitch, depending on whether the turns of the clove hitch progress away from or towards the hitched object.

Although the name clove hitch is given by Falconer in his Dictionary of 1769, the knot is much older, having been tied in ratlines at least as early as the first quarter of the sixteenth century. This is shown in early sculpture and paintings. A round turn is taken with the ratline and then a hitch is added below. The forward end is always the first to be made fast.

The difference between two half hitches and the clove hitch is that the former, after a single turn around a spar, is made fast around its own standing part, while the latter is tied directly around the spar.

Truckers hitch hitch knot

The trucker's hitch is a compound knot commonly used for securing loads on trucks or trailers. This general arrangement, using loops and turns in the rope itself to form a crude block and tackle, has long been used to tension lines and is known by multiple names. Knot author Geoffrey Budworth claims the knot can be traced back to the days when carters and hawkers used horse-drawn conveyances to move their wares from place to place.

Marlinespike hitch

The marlinespike hitch is a temporary knot used to attach a rod to a rope in order to form a handle. This allows more tension than could be produced comfortably by gripping the rope with the hands alone. It is useful when tightening knots and for other purposes in ropework.

Farmers loop

The farmer's loop is a knot which forms a fixed loop. As a midline loop knot made with a bight, it is related to several other similar knots, including the alpine butterfly knot and artillery loop.

Zeppelin bend bend knot

A Zeppelin bend is an end-to-end joining knot formed by two symmetrically interlinked overhand knots. It is stable, secure, and highly resistant to jamming. It is also resistant to the effects of slack shaking and cyclic loading.

Overhand knot with draw-loop

A slipped half hitch or Noose is a knot in which the weight of the load the rope carries depresses the loop sufficiently to keep it in place until the load item is placed in its location. When no longer required the free end may be pulled and draw the loop through and so release the load.

Cow hitch type of knot

The cow hitch, also called the lark's head, is a hitch knot used to attach a rope to an object. The cow hitch comprises a pair of half-hitches tied in opposing directions, as compared to the clove hitch in which the half-hitches are tied in the same direction. It has several variations and is known under a variety of names. It can be tied either with the end of the rope or with a bight.

Rolling hitch

The rolling hitch is a knot used to attach a rope to a rod, pole, or another rope. A simple friction hitch, it is used for lengthwise pull along an object rather than at right angles. The rolling hitch is designed to resist lengthwise movement for only a single direction of pull.

Halter hitch

The halter hitch is a type of knot used to connect a rope to an object. As the name implies, an animal's lead rope, attached to its halter, may be tied to a post or hitching rail with this knot. The benefit of the halter hitch is that it can be easily released by pulling on one end of the rope, even if it is under tension. Some sources show the knot being finished with the free end running through the slipped loop to prevent it from working loose or being untied by a clever animal, still allowing easy but not instant untying.

Bottle sling

The bottle sling is a knot which can be used to create a handle for a glass or ceramic container with a slippery narrow neck, as long as the neck widens slightly near the top.

Chain sinnet

A chain sinnet is a method of shortening a rope or other cable while in use or for storage. It is formed by making a series of simple crochet-like stitches in the line. It can also reduce tangling while a rope is being washed in a washing machine.

Bight (knot) curved section or slack part between the two ends of a rope

In knot tying, a bight is a curved section or slack part between the two ends of a rope, string, or yarn. A knot that can be tied using only the bight of a rope, without access to the ends, is described as in the bight. The term "bight" is also used in a more specific way when describing Turk's head knots, indicating how many repetitions of braiding are made in the circuit of a given knot.

Highpoint hitch

The highpoint hitch is a type of knot used to attach a rope to an object. The main feature of the hitch is that it is very secure, yet if tied as a slipped knot it can be released quickly and easily with one pull, even after heavy loading. The highpoint hitch is a buntline hitch with an extra half turn, making it more secure.

Coiling A method for storing rope or cable in compact yet easily attainable form

A coiling or coil is a curve, helix, or spiral used for storing rope or cable in compact and reliable yet easily attainable form. They are often discussed with knots.

Rope are often coiled and hung up in lofts for storage. They are also hung over stakes in farm wagons and on hooks in moving vans, fire apparatus and linesmen's repair trucks. For such active storage coils must be well made.


  1. Ashley, Clifford W. (1944). The Ashley Book of Knots, p.546. Doubleday. ISBN   0-385-04025-3.