Ernest Hemingway Cat

What is a Polydactyl cat? Why Are They So Lucky?

The paws of a kitty are the cutest thing ever, right? The extra toes on polydactyl cats’ paws only enhance their cuteness. A polydactyl cat, on the other hand, has six toes on each of its front paws (or more!) and four on each of its hind paws, whereas most cats have five toes on their front paws.

It is true that polydactyly, a genetic abnormality in which the cat ends up with extra digits, is more common in certain geographic regions of the world, but it can affect any type of cat, large or small, male or female. Please keep reading to find out more about the genetic factors that lead to polydactyl and to see some adorable photos of cats with polydactyly.

What is a Polydactyl cat
What is a Polydactyl cat?

What Caused Polydactyly?  Is it caused by a genetic mutation?

Cats with polydactyly have between four to seven toes on their paws. The condition is caused by a genetic mutation in a dominant gene. It is extremely rare for a cat to have polydactyl on all four paws; it is most often found on the front legs, but it can also occur on the hind legs.

It is unlikely that polydactyly will harm the health or well-being of a cat.  If you have ever trimmed your cat’s nails, you know how difficult it is, but otherwise, there are plenty of healthy, happy kitties out there with a few extra fingers.

What Caused Polydactyly
What Caused Polydactyly

Also Read: Which Foods are dangerous or toxic for cats?

A condition often confused with polydactyly, feline radial Pal hypoplasia can severely harm a cat’s health. Cats with radial hypoplasia develop extra digits, just like those with polydactyly. This leads to extremely large, flat feet because the extra toes develop right alongside the cat’s normal toes. In the future, if cats with feline radial hypoplasia are bred, it will result in severe leg deformities in the offspring they produce.

Some polydactyl cats have “mittens”

 An example of this would be “mitten paws,” where the extra toes of polydactyl cats form in the middle of the paw like a thumb or mitten. It is important to note that these extra digits are not opposable, despite their resemblance to thumbs.

Polydactyl cat
Polydactyl cat

Some cats may benefit from polydactyly

Kittens with polydactyl toes don’t just look cute; they are also helpful. With their wider and longer legs, polydactyl cats are better able to balance on various surfaces, climb, hunt, and capture prey.

You should consider purchasing a scratching post or board for your polydactyl cat if you have one. There is no doubt that those extra toes can have a serious impact on the furniture in your home.

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Polydactyl cats are thought to be lucky

It is believed that polydactyl cats bring good luck to sailors, just like black cats and calico cats. In the past, it was not uncommon to see polydactyl cats on long voyages on ships. It is because of their large, broad paws that polydactyl cats can catch mice excellently,  and have been able to keep the ship’s supplies free of vermin. 

They were also able to maintain their balance on the rocky seas and coasts through the use of their paws. Most polydactyl cats are found in western England, Wales, Canada, and the eastern United States, and their occurrence in those areas is often attributed to their time spent on transcontinental ships during their early years.

It is believed that polydactyl cats from England reached the continent across the Atlantic Ocean where they were bred with non-polydactyl cats in order to propagate the genetic trait.

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Ernest Hemingway was a fan of Polydactyl cats

Do you ever wonder why polydactyl cats are sometimes referred to as Hemingway cats? That’s because Ernest Hemingway loved them. 

Ernest Hemingway developed a strong affection for these multi-toed kittens after he received a gift of a polydactyl white cat named Snow Ball from a ship’s captain.

Ernest Hemingway Cat
Ernest Hemingway Cat

His Key West, Florida home was converted into a museum after he died in 1961. It also served as a home for her cats. The kitten colony now has about 50 offspring from its original pack of cats, and about half of them are polydactyls.

Maine Coon Cats are prone to this Polyductyl condition 

Because they originated in harsh weather conditions in Maine, Maine coon cats have developed large, insulated pads on their paws that resemble snow boots. The Maine coon was also prone to polydactyly; it is estimated that about 40% of all Maine coons had extra digits at one time.

  What makes him so lucky? A Maine raccoon’s large, wide legs were more insulated so that they could survive in snowy conditions. Some cats fans recognize polydactyl Maine coons even if polydactyly is today bred from many Maine coon cats. Continue reading for more information.

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A cat holds the world record for having the Polyductyl toes

According to the Guinness Book of World Record list,  Both Jake, a Canadian polydactyl cat, and Paws, an American polydactyl cat, was recognized by Guinness World Records as having the highest number of toes on a cat, 28. 

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Jake has the most toes in a polydactyl ginger tabby cat. Besides his 28 toes, Jake had seven nails and pads on each of his paws.

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