Polydactyl Cats: Exploring the Marvel of Extra Toes

Have you ever seen a cat with more toes than usual? If so, you've encountered a member of an exceptional club in the feline world. Welcome to the fascinating realm of polydactyl cats, where extra digits are the norm, and every paw tells a unique story.

Polydactyl cats, affectionately known as "Hemingway cats," are captivating creatures that boast more than the standard number of toes on one or more paws.

A sleeping cat with a polydactyl hand

This intriguing trait sets them apart, adding charm to their already endearing feline personas. But what causes this unusual trait? How does it affect the lives of these cats?

And why are they often associated with the famous writer Ernest Hemingway?

Join us on this journey as we unravel the mysteries of polydactyl cats, shedding light on their unique traits and the captivating lives they lead.

What Causes Polydactyly in Cats?

Polydactyly in cats is a fascinating genetic phenomenon. It occurs due to a genetic mutation affecting limb development.

A maine coon cat with a Polydactyl hand

This mutation leads to the appearance of extra toes on one or more of their paws. But why does it happen, and how is it inherited?

1. The Genetic Culprit Behind Polydactyly

The culprit behind polydactyly is a dominant gene that influences the formation of limbs in cats.

This gene has a specific regulatory sequence called the ZRS (zone of polarizing activity), which is crucial for the proper development of limbs.

2. The Formation of Extra Digits

When a genetic abnormality occurs in the ZRS, it can cause the formation of extra digits.

This abnormality can arise spontaneously or be passed down from parent to offspring.

3. The Inheritance of Polydactyly

Since polydactyly is an autosomal dominant trait, it means that a cat only needs to inherit one copy of the mutated gene from either parent to exhibit the condition.

How Common Are Polydactyl Cats?

Polydactyl cats, unique felines with extra toes, can be found worldwide, though their prevalence varies geographically.

They're notably common in North America's New England and Eastern Canada, particularly among Maine Coon cats.

A chubby tabby cat showing his polydactyl legs

This breed has a 30-40% likelihood of polydactyly, possibly aiding grip in snowy conditions.

However, polydactylism isn't exclusive to Maine Coons and can occur in various breeds and regions, often influenced by specific genetic lineages.

What Are the Different Types of Polydactyl Cats?

Polydactyl cats are unique felines known for their extra toes. These adorable kitties can have different patterns of extra digits.

Let's explore some common types of polydactyl cats:

1. American Polydactyl

This breed is not specific to a particular genetic background.

Instead, it's a term to describe any cat with extra digits that originates from North America.

You can find American Polydactyl cats in various sizes, colors, and fur patterns.

2. Polydactyl Maine Coon

Maine Coons are a popular large cat breed, and some of them are polydactyl as well.

A polydactyl Maine Coon cat on a black background

Polydactyl Maine Coons have the same endearing qualities as regular Maine Coons, like their friendly temperament and striking appearance – with the addition of those fascinating extra toes.

3. American Shorthair with Polydactyly

The American Shorthair is a classic breed loved for their sweet nature and good looks.

American Shorthair with polydactyl arms

Some American Shorthairs happen to have the polydactyl gene, making them extra special and even more adorable.

When it comes to the arrangement of their additional toes, polydactyl cats can have various patterns:

  • Some cats have just one extra toe on each foot, giving them a six-toed foot.
  • Other cats might have multiple extra toes on one or more feet, making each foot look more like a mitten or a snowshoe.

Are There Any Health Issues Associated with Polydactyly in Cats?

Polydactyl cats are not only cute, but they are also generally healthy.

However, certain aspects of their condition, like nail overgrowth, can lead to complications that might indirectly affect their well-being. In other words, keep an eye on Kitty's nails.

A resting polydactyl maine coon cat

One condition often mistaken for polydactyly is feline radial hypoplasia, a rare congenital disorder causing underdeveloped or twisted front limbs, often with extra toes.

This condition can lead to walking difficulties and increased injury risk.

In polydactyl cats, the extra toes, mainly if not fully formed, can also increase susceptibility to injuries like sprains, fractures, and abrasions.

How Does Polydactyly Affect a Cat's Behavior and Abilities?

Polydactyl cats, with their unique feature of extra toes, may exhibit some differences in behavior and abilities compared to their regular-toed counterparts.

A small polydactyl cat sitting on the floor

1. Enhanced Balance and Climbing Abilities

Polydactyl cats often have a better balance due to their larger front paws, which may give them an advantage when climbing or jumping.

The extra toes can provide a better grip while scaling walls or trees.

2. Improved Grooming Capabilities

The additional toes might make it easier for your cat to groom those hard-to-reach spots, enhancing their grooming capabilities.

3. Impact on Sleeping Positions

If your cat has extra toes on their hind feet, it may affect their sleeping positions. Cats with extra hind toes might find a few more comfortable sleeping positions.

4. Boxing Behavior

In terms of behavior, polydactyl cats are often observed "boxing" with other cats.

Their extended front paw reach, aided by the extra toes, may give them a slight advantage in playful scuffles.

Remember, every cat is different, and having extra toes doesn't guarantee any specific behavior or ability.

How to Care for a Polydactyl Cat?

Polydactyl cats are unique felines with extra toes on their paws, making them quite unique.

A cute poly ginger cat with polydactyl abnormalities

Caring for these cats is similar overall to any other cat, but there are a few additional considerations to remember.

Health Check-ups

Regular visits to the vet are essential for all cats, including polydactyl cats.

Your vet can monitor your cat's overall health and address any issues related to their extra toes.

Polydactyl paws of a cat

Establishing a good relationship with your vet is essential to ensure they are familiar with your cat's unique needs.

Claw Maintenance

Nail trimming is a crucial aspect of polydactyl cat care. Extra toes mean extra claws, which can sometimes grow abnormally or become ingrown.

Click here to see this nail clippers on Amazon.

To prevent this, monitor and trim your cat's nails regularly, paying close attention to those on the additional toes.


Polydactyl cats don't require special grooming.

However, giving them a gentle brush regularly not only helps keep their coat clean but also strengthens your bond.

Click here to see this brush on Amazon.

Use a good quality brush that is gentle on your cat's skin.

Scratching Posts and Exercise

Provide a sturdy scratching post or pad for your polydactyl cat. These extra-toed felines enjoy stretching and scratching just as much as any other cat.

Click here to see this scratching post on Amazon.

Encourage playtime with various toys to keep them active and happy.

Living Environment

Polydactyl cats can adapt well to various living environments.

Ensure your cat's living area is safe, clean, and free from hazards that could harm their paws.

Where Can You Adopt a Polydactyl Cat?

A cute tabby cat showing his polydactyl arms

Polydactyl cats, known for their extra toes, can make a unique and interesting feline companion. If you're eager to adopt one, you have a few options.

1. Shelters and Rescue Groups

  • Some shelters and rescue groups have polydactyls available for adoption. To find Paw Prints Animal Rescue or other similar organizations in your area, try searching online or using social media.
  • Contacting local shelters and asking about polydactyl cats could increase your chances of finding one.

2. Breeders

Occasionally, polydactyl kittens can be born in a litter of regular-toed kittens. Some breeders may specialize in polydactyl cats.

  • Inquire with reputable local breeders about the availability of polydactyl kittens.
  • Online forums and Facebook groups dedicated to certain cat breeds often have information about breeders who have polydactyl kittens.

3. Networking

Sometimes, word of mouth can go a long way in finding your new feline companion.

  • Let your friends, family, and coworkers know you're interested in adopting a polydactyl cat.
  • It's possible someone in your social circle might encounter a polydactyl in need of a forever home.

Take note that adoption processes can vary depending on where you find your polydactyl cat.

Remember to prepare your home and be prepared for the responsibilities of welcoming a new furry friend into your family.

In the Paws of Polydactyl Cats

Embarking on the journey of understanding polydactyl cats, we've discovered their unique charm and the genetic marvel behind their extra toes.

With their distinctive trait, these felines captivate their owners and cat lovers alike.

Remember, polydactylism is typically harmless, making these cats as lovable as any other.

Embrace the uniqueness of polydactyl cats, and let their intriguing nature add a touch of wonder to your feline appreciation.

Discover more kinds of cats by reading the articles below.

Ragdoll Cats vs. Persians – Which Breed Is Right For You?

9 Cat Breeds with Stunning Blue Eyes! Do you know them all?

Some elements on this page may have been created by our team using advanced AI to provide you with top-notch cat inspired ideas. Read more about our AI Content Policy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *