Polydactyl Cats: Amazing Facts You Dont Want To Miss

Have you ever been captivated by the mystique of polydactyl cats? These aren’t your ordinary felines—oh no, they’re a step above with their unique physical trait: extra toes! Imagine a cat so unique that it looks like it’s wearing fluffy mittens or has been designed for extra cuddles. That’s the magic of polydactyl cats for you.

In this blog, we’ll dive deep into the world of these extraordinary cats, uncovering everything from their genetic secrets to their historical significance and even some care tips.

So stick around, because you’re about to discover amazing facts about these multi-toed marvels that you definitely don’t want to miss.

Polydactyl cat with 7 toes
Polydactyl Cat With 7 Toes

What is a Polydactyl Cat

Starting with the basics, what exactly is a polydactyl cat? Polydactylism is a fascinating genetic mutation resulting in cats with more toes. While most cats strut around with ten toes in front and eight behind, polydactyl cats break the mold with their additional digits.

Polydactyl cats are one-of-a-kind felines with a bit more to love—thanks to their extra toes! This unusual trait makes each polydactyl cat paw look like it’s ready for a high-five. But what causes this adorable abnormality?

It all boils down to polydactylism in cats, a genetic mutation that hands (or paws) down extra digits, making their paws look fuller and, to many, even cuter. These extra toes aren’t just for show; they add to the physical and aesthetic characteristics of polydactyl cats, making each one distinct.

These extra toes can enhance their already adorable paws, making each polydactyl cat paw a unique masterpiece of nature. But it’s not just about the cute factor; these traits play a significant part in the polydactyl cat’s allure, offering insight into their heritage and physical characteristics.

But polydactyl cats are more than just their extra toes. Their traits speak volumes about their adaptability and personality. Often, you’ll find that these multi-toed kitties are as robust and agile as their standard-toed counterparts, if not more so.

Moreover, the physical appearance of polydactyl cats, with their larger-than-life paws, adds an element of novelty and intrigue, making them a popular topic among cat enthusiasts and pet lovers alike.

Polydactyly Is Caused by a Genetic Mutation

Wondering how many toes does a polydactyl cat have? Well, while the normal kitty has 18 toes, polydactyl cats can have anywhere from one to several additional toes per paw. This toe-tastic phenomenon is due to a genetic mutation, which leads to cats having extra toes.

The polydactyl cat toe count can vary, with some kitties having just one extra toe on each foot, while others boast a much higher count, making each of their steps all the more remarkable.

Identifying a polydactyl cat is quite straightforward—if you’re allowed a peek at their paws! These extra digits can range from being fully functional to simply decorative, but they all add to the distinct physical features of polydactyl cats. This genetic trait can occur in any cat breed, which makes it a fascinating study of nature’s unpredictability and the genetic diversity among feline friends.

Purebred American shorthair cat sitting nest to window
Polydactyl American Shorthair

Some Polydactyl Cats Have “Mittens”

Now, let’s talk about a special type of polydactyl cat—the ones with “mitten paws.” These adorable creatures have a condition known as preaxial polydactyly, where the extra toes form in such a way on their paw that it resembles a little thumb, giving the appearance of a mitten or a glove.

While these thumb-like digits aren’t opposable like human thumbs, they certainly add to the cuteness factor, making the paws look even more unique and sometimes helping the cat grasp objects or climb more effectively.

Polydactyl Cats Are Considered Lucky

Across cultures and history, polydactyl cats have been seen as symbols of good luck and prosperity. From sailors believing they bring good fortune at sea to cultures venerating them for their rarity and uniqueness, these cats are more than just pets—they’re lucky charms on four legs!

Whether it’s their charming extra digits or their peculiar appearance that catches the eye, one thing is sure: having a polydactyl cat cross your path is considered a sign of good things to come.

Orange Red Maine Coon fluffy cat playing
Polydactyl Maine Coon

Cat Breeds That Are Polydactyl

Polydactylism can manifest in any cat breed. However, its occurrence is notably more common in specific breeds, and even more so within certain lines of those breeds. Maine Coons and American breeds, for instance, are particularly known for having a higher prevalence of polydactyl individuals. This phenomenon may be attributed to the genetic makeup and breeding histories specific to these lines.

The presence of polydactylism in cat breeds such as Maine Coons and Americans can be traced back to historical and geographical factors. For example, polydactyl Maine Coons were once considered highly advantageous in northeastern America for their superior mousing abilities, possibly enhanced by their extra toes.

This trait was so valued that it became somewhat selectively bred into the population over generations. As a result, these specific breed lines have continued to exhibit a higher frequency of polydactyly.

Polydactyl Cat Health Issues

Owning a polydactyl cat comes with a unique set of health considerations. While these multi-toed kitties are generally healthy, they can sometimes face specific issues related to their extra digits, such as an increased risk of claw and joint problems. However, with proper care, including regular paw inspections and appropriate grooming, polydactyl cats can lead happy, healthy lives. Understanding and addressing the potential health risks of polydactyl cats are paramount for ensuring their well-being.

Typically, these multi-toed felines are as healthy as their standard-toed counterparts. However, the presence of additional toes can predispose them to particular health challenges, most notably in their claws and joints.

Smoke types of Maine Coon cat sitting elegantly

The primary issue stems from the fact that extra toes can sometimes lead to overcrowded and abnormally shaped claws. This can cause the claws to grow in irregular patterns, potentially curving into the paw pads or becoming more susceptible to snagging. Both of which can lead to discomfort or infections.

To ensure the health and comfort of a polydactyl cat, you should commit to a rigorous routine of paw care. This involves regular inspections of the paws and claws to check for any signs of injury or abnormal growth. Maintaining a consistent grooming schedule to keep the claws trimmed to a safe length.

Regular veterinary check-ups are also crucial, as they allow for early detection and treatment of any claw or joint issues before they develop into more serious conditions.

Polydactyl Cat Adoption

Adopting a polydactyl cat can be a rewarding experience, giving one of these special kitties a loving home. From rescue centers specializing in polydactyl cats to breeders who focus on these unique felines, there are many avenues for welcoming an extra-toed friend into your life. Adoption fees can vary, but the joy of having a polydactyl cat join your family is priceless.

Fluffy tabby Maine Coon about to groom its fur

Polydactyl Cat History and Origin

The unique history and origin of polydactyl cats, commonly referred to as “Hemingway cats,” is as intriguing and multifaceted as the animals themselves. These cats are most notable for their polydactylism – a genetic trait resulting in additional toes on their paws. This distinctive feature has woven them into the fabric of maritime history and folklore.

Polydactyl cats are often associated with seafaring lore, primarily due to their perceived utility on ships. Sailors favored these cats because the extra toes were believed to provide superior balance and stability on the rocky seas, which was essential for a creature tasked with catching rodents on a moving vessel.

Furthermore, sailors considered these cats to be good luck charms, which further solidified their presence on ships traversing the world’s oceans.

The maritime connection of polydactyl cats also ties them to notable historical figures and cultural legends, most famously, American author Ernest Hemingway. After receiving a white polydactyl cat named Snow White from a ship’s captain, Hemingway developed a fondness for these animals, which led to the breeding and proliferation of polydactyl cats at his estate in Key West, Florida.

Today, the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is home to approximately 40-50 descendants of his original cats, many of whom are polydactyls, and it remains a popular tourist destination.

These cats have not only left a physical mark with their extra toes but have also made a significant impact on culture and history. They are celebrated in various forms of media and continue to be a subject of interest for cat enthusiasts and historians alike.

The lore surrounding polydactyl cats enhances their mystique, making them legendary in their own right and a fascinating topic for exploration. Their story is a vivid illustration of how animals can intertwine with human history and cultural development, transcending their role in nature to become symbols of superstition, companionship, and curiosity across centuries.

Adorable brown Maine coon lying relaxed

Polydactyl Cat Care Tips

Caring for a polydactyl cat, which is a feline with more than the usual number of toes, involves some unique considerations to ensure their health and happiness. One of the most important aspects of caring for these cats is paying special attention to their paws.

Due to their extra digits, polydactyl cats have more claws than normal, which can sometimes grow quicker or become ingrown if not properly maintained. Regular grooming sessions are essential, and it is particularly crucial to include frequent nail trimming to keep their claws at a comfortable length and to prevent potential complications such as snagging or infections.

In addition to paw care, the overall diet of a polydactyl cat should also be carefully managed. Providing a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients helps support not only their general health but also contributes to the strength of their nails and paws. This is particularly important for polydactyl cats as their extra toes can sometimes carry additional weight and stress.

Engaging your polydactyl cat in regular physical activities is another key aspect of their care. Activities that encourage movement and exercise can help maintain their weight and improve their agility. This not only keeps them physically fit but also mentally stimulated, which is vital for their overall well-being. Interactive toys, climbing structures, and regular playtime are excellent ways to keep them active and entertained.

Also, it’s beneficial to routinely check their extra toes for any signs of discomfort or abnormalities. This includes monitoring for any signs of redness, swelling, or infection around the nail beds. Early detection and treatment of any potential issues are critical in preventing more serious health problems.

By implementing these care strategies, owners of polydactyl cats can help ensure their pets lead a full and vibrant life. Regular veterinary check-ups should also be a part of their care routine to monitor their unique health needs effectively.

With proper attention and care, polydactyl cats can be just as happy and healthy as their standard-toed counterparts, fully enjoying their interactions with their families and their environment.

Adult female blue Maine Coon staring intently at the cameraman

Unique Names for Polydactyl Cats

When it comes to naming your polydactyl cat, it’s important to pick a name that’s as distinctive as their exceptional paws. Known affectionately as “Hemingway cats” due to Ernest Hemingway’s famous love for these many-toed felines, polydactyl cats are uniquely charming pets with a whimsical aura.

Their extra toes may just inspire a sense of creativity and novelty in the names you might consider. To help you curate the perfect moniker, we have compiled a list of 51 unique and interesting names that reflect the endearing and peculiar qualities of your special polydactyl cat.

The names provided below have been carefully selected to encapsulate the delightful and quirky aspects of your polydactyl kitty. Let’s explore these one-of-a-kind names that are sure to set your polydactyl cat apart from the rest!

1. Thumbelina2. Mittens3. Digit
4. Hemingway5. Octopaws6. Captain Hook
7. Sixtoes8. Squid9. Octavius
10. Fingers11. Tippytoes12. HighFive
13. Gatsby14. Pianist15. Multipaw
16. Handshake17. Countess18. Button
19. Glove20. Twinkletoes21. Sneak
22. Hitch23. Moretoes24. Palm
25. Ninja26. Digits27. Fancypaws
28. Juggler29. Digitas30. Maestro
31. Socks32. Picasso33. Tetra
34. Heptacat35. Eleven36. Thimble
37. Houdini38. Toesie39. Dextra
40. Atlas41. Handy42. Quinto
43. Tetris44. Gimli45. Navi
46. Mosaic47. Grabby48. Cezanne
49. Knuckles50. Enigma51. Wolverine
Black Maine Coon with striking green eyes
Did you know that a polydactyl cat holds the world record for the most toes? That's right, a ginger tabby named Jake has made it into the Guinness Book of World Records with an astonishing 28 toes. 

Jake's exceptional toe count showcases the incredible variation that can occur due to polydactylism, making him a fascinating example of this genetic marvel.


Polydactyl cats are truly extraordinary creatures, not just for their additional toes, but also for their rich history, cultural significance, and the joy they bring into the lives of those who love them.

From their quirky “mitten paws” to their considered status as bearers of good luck, these multi-toed marvels have captured hearts around the world.

Whether you’re a potential pet parent considering adoption or simply a cat enthusiast fascinated by their uniqueness, there’s no denying the special place polydactyl cats hold in the animal kingdom.

With the right care, understanding, and appreciation, these exceptional felines will continue to intrigue and delight us for generations to come.