Polydactyl Cats: 10 Facts About the Six-Toed Wonders

Posted by Paige Cerulli
6-Toed Cats
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The more toes, the merrier, at least when it comes to polydactyl cats. These fascinating kitties have extra toes on their paws, giving them an unusual and distinctive look. But aside from looking different, these extra toes don't cause the cats any harm.

Chances are you may have already come across a polydactyl cat in your lifetime since they're pretty common. These cats aren't a distinct cat breed, but you can easily spot them thanks to their unusual paws. Interested in these fascinating cats? Here are 10 facts you need to know about these fun felines.

1. Polydactyl cats have been around for more than a century

According to Hills Pet, polydactyl cats were first recorded in 1868. They were very popular in the sea shipping industry and were frequently found in the trades that ran from the United States to Canada. Many sailors brought the cats onto their ships to keep the mice population under control, and their extra toes gave the cats better balance on swaying ships.

2. Polydactyls are thought to be good luck

Sailors had another reason for bringing these cats onto their ships - polydactyls are thought to be good luck. They're still considered good luck today, states Hills Pet.

3. These extra toes are a genetic mutation

Dr. Karen Becker of Mercola states that these cats aren't a distinct breed of cat, but rather their extra toes are the result of a genetic mutation. The Maine Coon breed did have up a high rate of polydactyl production, with up to 40 percent of the population being polydactyls, but at this time, no one breed is more likely to produce polydactyl cats than others.

4. Some polydactyls have "mittens"

A polydactyl cat's extra toes often make it look like the cat has big feet, but sometimes the toes create a different sort of appearance. Dr. Becker explains that thumb cat polydactyls have a large, thumb-like first toe, giving the appearance that the cat is wearing mittens.

5. One cat had 28 toes

Guinness World Records states that Jake, a tabby cat from Canada holds the record for the most amount of toes on a cat. According to Guinness, Jake has seven toes on each of his paws, each with its own pad and bone structure. With 28 toes, Jake far exceeds a cat's average 18 toes.

6. President Theodore Roosevelt had a polydactyl cats

Polydactyl cats even made their way into the White House. According to Vet Street, President Roosevelt had a polydactyl cat named Slippers. Slippers also happened to be one of the first cats to call the White House home.

7. A polydactyl cat may produce polydactyl kittens

According to Dr. Arnold Plotnick of Manhattan Cat Specialists, if you have a polydactyl parent cat, you'll probably have at least some polydactyl kittens, too. If one parent cat is a polydactyl, between 40 and 50 percent of the kittens will also be polydactyl.

8. Extra toes mean extra paw care

Dr. Becker highlights how important it is for your polydactyl cat to receive extra paw care. Because extra digits may be placed unusually, your cat's claws might not be worn down through his typical running and scratching. If those claws get too long, they can grow into the soft foot or pad of your cat's paw, so make sure to keep up with regular nail trims on a polydactyl cat.

9. Ernest Hemmingway loved polydactyl cats

According to Hills Pet, a ship's captain gave writer Ernest Hemingway a polydactyl cat named Snowball when he lived in Key West, Florida. Hemingway adored Snowball, and Snowball's ancestors came to live at Hemingway's estate. Today, the estate is called the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, and close to 50 of these polydactyl "Hemingway Cats" call the place home.

10. Cats aren't the only polydactyls out there

According to Dr. Becker, polydactylism can affect dogs, mice, moles, and humans, too. The extra toe often doesn't contain a joint and is just made up of tissue and bone. Just because your cat has six toes doesn't mean it cannot play with cat toys! Check out this catnip toy as our feline friend has been going crazy with this toy while we wrote this article!

Did you know this about cats? Leave a comment below with your story. 

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Polydactyl Cats: 10 Facts About the Six-Toed Wonders