Polydactyl cats are an underappreciated breed, but they’re pretty cool. If you’ve never seen one before, you may wonder what makes polydactyls unique and how they differ from other cats. Let’s get started!

Also Known as Hemingway Cats

Polydactyl cats are also known as Hemingway cats, and their most notable feature is their extra toes. The term “polydactyl” comes from the Greek, meaning “many fingers or toes,” and the name refers to having more than the standard number of toes on a paw. This can range from an extra toe on one foot to seven digits on each paw.

The reason they are also called Hemingway cats is that Ernest Hemingway adored them. He was a cat lover, and his home in Key West, Florida, has become a museum dedicated to the writer and his love of cats. One of his favorite felines was Snow White, whose polydactyl paws inspired the name of Hemingway’s novel, “The Old Man and the Sea.” It’s said that Hemingway was known to have over 20 cats at one time.

Hemingway was given a six-toed polydactyl white cat named Snow White by a ship’s captain. This was when he started generating love for cats. His cat museum, The Hemingway Home, still has some descendants of the original Snow White. You can visit and explore the museum anytime between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM.

The Trait Runs in Families

You may be wondering if polydactyl cats are born with extra toes or if they grow them later in life. They’re born with them. In fact, some breeders consider this trait a plus because it means the cat is already accustomed to having multiple digits on its feet.

The trait runs in families, although it’s not genetic. It’s a mutation in the gene that causes polydactylism to occur. Recent studies have found that there are also genetic instabilities in polydactyl cats.

Moreover, studies have also found three primary genetic mutations in polydactyl cats. A recent study on the SAGE Journals website studied polydactyl cats in the UK and USA and found the three variants.

Polydactyl cats are not just born with extra toes. They also tend to have more extended, thicker claws that can grow quickly and aren’t easily worn down by everyday use like regular cat nails. You’ll need to keep an eye on those deceptively sharp weapons and ensure they’re not getting caught in carpeting or other fabric-type surfaces where they could get hung up and tear apart your furniture.

Having a polydactyl cat also means you must cater to its nail trimming needs more frequently. Taking the cat to professionals all the time for nail trimming can quickly durian your pockets. Hence, it is best to get the right accessories to do everything yourself at home.

You can find accessories like trimmers, scissors, nail clippers, etc., at a nearby local or an online store. Shopping from an online store is recommended as you will get various options and the comfort of shopping from home. You can rely on reputed online retailers like PetCareRx for all your pet accessories and medication needs. These online retailers are licensed and take optimal care of 100% customer satisfaction.

Polydactyl Condition Can Benefit Some Cats

Is it possible that polydactyl cats are better at saving themselves from falling than other types of felines? Yes. They can use their extra toes as a kind of “grabbing claw” to help them keep their balance and grab onto whatever surface is beneath them, meaning fewer falls for polydactyls.

Polydactyl cats also have better balance and agility than other felines, which can be advantageous when navigating tight spaces or climbing upstairs.

Polydactyl Cats Were Present on Ships for Rodent Control

The Polydactyl cat was initially brought on ships in the 18th century to help keep the rat population under control. Sailors believed that additional toes of polydactyl cats could help them catch rats more efficiently. However, as time passed and rats became less of a problem, cats were also used for companionship.

When these cats arrived at their destination, they often had one thing in common; they were killed because people thought they carried diseases.

Polydactyl Cats in Movies

You’ve probably heard of the Musical Cats, based on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot. The show opened in London in 1981 and has since been performed worldwide. It features singing cats who tell stories about their lives as they make their way toward the Jellicle Ball, where one cat will be chosen to ascend to a heaven-like paradise called the Heaviside Layer.

Skimbleshanks, also known as Skimble or simply Tibbs (after his role in the musical), was born with six toes on each front paw and seven on each rear foot, a total of twenty-five. This made him look very different from other cats and helped him land a role in Cats when he was only four years old.

A Cat Named Jake Has 28 Toes

A polydactyl cat is a cat with an extra toe on each of its paws. A polydactyl cat is not a new breed, nor does it have special health needs or talents. It’s simply a cat with more than the usual number of toes.

Jake, the world record holder for most toes on a cat, has 28 toes on all four feet. A veterinarian counted the toes and gave the cat’s parent Paul Contant the Guinness Book of World Record on 24th September 2002.


Polydactyl cats are just like regular cats; only they have extra toes. Polydactylism is a genetic trait that causes cats to be born with extra digits on their front and back paws.

Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed learning about polydactyl cats and their fascinating facts. If you have a polydactyl cat, we know how special they are to you. You may be surprised that many others love these extra-toed felines just as much as you do. If your cat has six toes on each paw, it might be time for them to become part of our club.