Interesting Facts About Polydactyl Cats

Is everyone having a good Sunday Funday?  I hope you are.  Those of you who have been following me for a while know that I’m not just a diabetic cat, but I am also a polydactyl cat.  Yes, I am a mitten kitten, Hemingway cat, or a poly.  And my thumbs are semi-opposable.  I use them more as pincers, but they allow me to pick up things and do things that amuse my human.

Bagheera the Diabetic Cat's right paw with the extra toeWell, except when he has to do what humans who take care of diabetic cats do with the ear sticks for blood testing and shots of insulin.  Then I am not happy with him, and those extra toes come in handy in expressing this.

There are many things that people do not know about polydactyls like me.  Courtesy of Catster, here are some interesting facts about polydactyls:

  • Polydactyly comes from a genetic abnormality.  Most cats have 18 toes, with four regular toes and a dew claw on the front and four toes in the rear.  In my case, I had five full toes with a dew claw on the front, and four regular toes and a dew claw on my rear toes.  My human had the front dew claws removed because they were always becoming ingrown.
  • The term polydactyl comes from Greek.  It’s a combination of the word poly, meaning many, and daktylos, meaning digits.
  • The term Hemingway cat comes from a gift of a white polydactyl cat to the famed writer.  A ship’s captain gave a white polydactyl cat to Ernest Hemingway, wBagheera the Diabetic Cat's fellow polydactyls at the Hemingway homeho may have been the ultimate cat guy.  He had as many as 50 cats, and around half of them were polydactyls.  If you visit the Hemingway home in Key West, you will see some of Snowball’s descendents.
  • The most toes on record for a cat was 28.  He is an orange and white tabby from Canada.  There are rumors of a cat with 32 toes.  However, there are no pictures of this cat, who was called Mickey Mouse.  And it’s possible he had double paws, which is different than polydactyly.
  • Many Maine Coons are polydactyls.  It only makes sense.  Having that extra toe helps get through the snow that is prevalent where Maine Coons originated.  At one point, up to 40 percent of these cats were polydactyls.  Polydactyly is an accepted breed trait for Maine Coons at cat shows.
  • Mariners used to consider polydactyl cats good luck.  Our extra toes helped us balance in rough seas, and they also were rumored to make us better mousers.  Our travels on ships may explain why you can find us in so many places.

My extra toes are why my human has said that I’ve always been a special cat.  Since I was diagnosed as a diabetic cat, he says we just added “needs” into there.

And now you know why polydactyl cats like me are special!

You May Also Like

6 Replies to “Interesting Facts About Polydactyl Cats”

  1. I had a wonderful polydactyl cat, with seven toes on each front foot, named Kingsford. I found him wandering around outside. After making friends, with the help of some barbecued chicken, he let me pick him up. I found one of his extra claws had grown into the pad of his foot! Straight to the vet for him! Then he came inside and lived a happy life with my cat family, especially his best friend Chester. Unfortunately, he also had FIV. He was fine until a very nasty URI swept through my family, and he got too sick too quickly…He is still remembered and loved.

    1. Hi, Mary. You are a very kind person to have taking in a cat off the street. And yes, what happened to Kingsford is a challenge that polydactyls often face. The dew claws on my front feet kept getting ingrown, so my human had them removed. Now, I am just like him, with five toes and five claws on my front paws.

      The dew claws on my hind legs are higher up my lower leg, so they do not get in the way and he left those alone.

Leave a Reply

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.