Extraordinary Facts About Polydactyl Cats

Polydactyl cats have more toes than usual. Most cats have five toes in their front and four on their back paws.

However, polydactyl cats may have six toes or more on each foot.
Polydactyly, a genetic disorder that causes extra digits, is more common in some geographic areas than others. It can impact any breed of cat, male or female.
Continue reading to find out more about polydactyly, as well as adorable photos of polydactyl cats pictures.

A Genetic Mutation Causes Polydactyly

A dominant genetic mutation can cause polydactyly, which results in four to seven toes in a cat’s paws. Polydactyly is most common in the front feet but can also affect the hind paws.

It’s rare for a cat with polydactyly to affect all four paws.

Polydactyly is generally harmless for a cat’s well-being and health. This can make trimming your cat’s nails more difficult. If you’ve ever done it, you’ll know how tedious it can be.

But otherwise, happy and healthy cats are possible with just a few extra feet.

Important to remember that feline radial hyperplasia (often confused with polydactyly) can cause severe health problems for cats.

Feline radial hypoplasia can cause extra toes, just like polydactyly. However, the difference is that the additional feet develop right next to the regular cat’s toes.

This results in huge, flat feet. If cats with feline radial hypoplasia are bred, it can lead to severe paw deformities in the next generation.

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Some Polydactyl Cats have “Mittens”

cat on the mattress

“Mitten paws” ensue when a polydactyl cat’s other toes form in the center of the paw, giving it a thumb-like or mitten-like appearance. These different digits look like thumbs but don’t have to be.

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Polydactyly can benefit some cats.

Polydactyl cat’s toes don’t just look cute; they also offer some benefits for kitties.

Polydactyl cats can balance better on different surfaces, climb, hunt and capture prey because they have larger, wider paws.

A scratching board or post is a must for any polydactyl cat. You can damage your furniture with those extra toes.

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Polydactyl Cats are Considered Lucky

black and calico cats

Polydactyl cats, like many other types of cats ( black cat and Calico cat) that were believed to bring good luck to sailors are no exception. Polydactyl cats were common sightings on long voyages by ship back in the day.

Polydactyl cats were excellent mousers because of their wide, stout paws. They could also keep ship supplies clean. Their paws also helped them balance on rough seas.

The most common locations for polydactyl cats in the United States are Western England, Wales, and Canada.

Their presence in these areas is often due to their time on trans-continental ships. 

It is believed that polydactyl cat breeders in England crossed the Atlantic Ocean to cross with non-polydactyl felines and propagated the genetic trait.

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Ernest Hemingway Loved Polydactyl Cats

Ever wonder why polydactyl cats get called Hemingway cats? It’s because Ernest Hemingway loved them

Ernest Hemingway developed an intense love for multi-toed cats after he was given Snow Ball, a white polydactyl cat by a captain of a ship.

His Florida home was converted into a museum and home for his cats after his death in 1961. The kitty colony currently houses about 50 descendants from his original cat pack.

About half of these cats are polydactyl.

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The Situation Was Very Common Among Maine Coon Cats

Maine coon cats were born in Maine’s snowy, harsh conditions. They have large, insulated feet that can be used as trim, waterproof snow boots.

Lucky for Maine coons were polydactyly a prevalent breed. About 40% of Maine coons were once blessed with extra digits. It’s a random thing.

Maine Coon cat picture gallery

Polydactyly gave Maine coons broader, more robust paws and insulation to help them navigate the snowy conditions.

Polydactyly is a breed of Maine coon cats that have been bred today. However, some cat lovers still recognize the breed polydactyl Maine colon.

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One Kitty carries the World Record for Most Toes.

two kitties are playing

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, a polydactyl ginger tabby, Jake, holds a world record for having the most toes. He had seven toes per paw, each with its claw, pad, and bone structure.

Ragdoll Cat Breed Profile


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How rare are polydactyl cats?

Polydactyl cats don’t seem to be rare. They are prevalent.

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How much are polydactyl cats worth?

A polydactyl cat’s price can vary greatly. This breed is usually priced between $600 and $13,00. Price will vary depending on the marking, parents, type, bloodline, and quality.

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Are polydactyl cats inbred?

Polydactyl cats are not inbred. This is simply a genetic condition passed on from one of the kitten’s parents. Although it might not seem like a significant problem for your kitten, you should talk to your veterinarian to decide if any treatment is necessary to keep your cat happy and healthy.

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How long do polydactyl cats live?

Polydactyl cats can live as long as regular cats, around 15 years.

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Do polydactyl cats have health problems?

Are there health concerns with a polydactyl cat? Polydactyl cats are healthy with a long life expectancy. However, extra toes can cause problems for the cat’s skin and claws if they grow at odd angles.

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How common are polydactyl cats?

Att affectionately towards extra-toed felines, polydactyl cats are sometimes called “Hemingway cats” today. There is around 40 to 50 polydactyl cat, some of which is Snow White’s descendants–that live today at the Hemingway Home & Museum. They are considered historical treasures.

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