Polydactyl cats are truly one-of-a-kind, with extra toes on each paw they’re sure to bring a smile to anyone’s face. Whether you think they’re cute or just plain strange, we’ve set out all the facts you need to know about this quirky type of cat below…
What is a polydactyl cat?
Cats generally have 18 toes (or beans as we like to call them), with five on each front paw and four on each of the rear paws. Polydactyl cats differ in the sense that they have extra toes, some cats may have one extra toe on the front paws which sometimes resemble thumbs and make it seem like a feline is wearing small mittens. Other polydactyl cats can have up to eight toes on any given paw, which can look rather bizarre! The term polydactyl is of Greek origin, with ‘poly’ meaning many and ‘daktylo’ meaning digits.
Polydactyl cats have a genetic deformity
This genetic abnormality is inherited and is more commonly found in cats along the East coast of North America. Polydactyl cats are in no way hindered by this deformity, in fact Jake, a cat from Canada made it into the Guinness Records for having 28 toes, perhaps making him one of the most unusual cats in the world.
Polydactyl cats are also known as Hemingway cats, due to their association with Ernest Hemingway. Snow White was a polydactyl kitten that was gifted to Hemingway in the 1930s, at the time sailors favoured these cats due to their ability to catch mice on the deck and they were believed to bring good luck on board. Snow White went on to have a litter of kittens and today Hemingway’s home and museum is also home to around 50 polydactyl cats, all of which are descendants of Snow White.
Maine Coon’s have been historically polydactyl, due to the environmental conditions of where they originate – Maine, these cats benefited from natural snow boots. It is believed that at one time, 40% of all Maine Coons were polydactyl.
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