A polydactyl cat has more toes on each paw than your regular pet kitty. The name is quite literal, as poly means many and dactyl refers to fingers or toes. Most cats have 18 toes total, with 5 on each front paw and 4 on each rear paw. Polydactyl cats often have six toes at the front instead of the usual five, but they can have even more. The record was a cat called Jake who had 28 in total, compared with the usual 18.
This is a harmless genetic abnormality that some cats are born with, although they might be a little more prone to paw injuries. Polydactyly is an inherited trait that can affect all cats, but is more common in some breeds like the Maine Coon. These cute many toed felines are sometimes called mitten cats because of their large paws.
What causes Polydactyly in cats?
Polydactyly is an inherited condition. This means that cats with the polydactyl trait are more likely to produce polydactyl kittens.
A good example of this is the Hemingway Estate in the Florida Keys. Ernest Hemingway, the famous American author, was given a polydactyl cat by a ship captain. He named the cat Snow White.
Polydactyl cats were considered lucky by sailors, and were often found on ships, where they were believed to be superior mousers. Sailors also thought that extra toes gave them better sea legs, though there is no proof to back this up.
Snow White proceeded to have kittens, and now the Hemingway Estate is home to her descendants. There are between 40 to 60 cats who call the Hemingway Estate home. Around half of them are polydactyl, thanks to the autosomal dominant trait.
Are Polydactyl cats rare?
Polydactyly is relatively common in cats. This condition can affect can be any breed, although it is seen more frequently in some breeds than in others. However, these cats are rarer than their eighteen toed relatives, especially in certain parts of the world.
Polydactyl cats are most common on the East coast of the United States, Wales, and Southwest England. It is believed they were brought to the East Coast of the United States from ships sailing from England and Wales. This also explains why the trait is more common in Maine Coon cats.
Polydactyl cat breeds
Polydactyly can occur in any breed of cat regardless of the coloring. Maine Coon cats used to have a large percentage of polydactyl cats in their bloodlines.
Some Maine Coon breed experts think that up to 40 percent of the breed was polydactyl in its early years. These days, polydactyly is still common in Maine Coons, but not quite as prevalent as it used to be.
Currently, only one breed of cats is bred selectively for polydactyly. However, the American Polydactyl cat breed is not recognized by most cat fancier associations. It bears some resemblance to Maine Coon cats in personality, but the defining feature is polydactyly.
Detractors of the breed argue that since polydactyly occurs naturally in all cat breeds, there is no need to select for it. Despite this, the American Polydactyl is not alone. Some breeders of Maine Coons select for Polydactyly, and there are regional names for polydactyl cats around New England, like the Boston thumb cat and the Vermont snow shoe cat.
Do Multiple Toes Cause Health Issues?
Having extra toes may increase your cat’s odds of injury. The more toes, the higher the chance that one gets stepped on or caught in something. In most cases, these injuries are not serious, and can be resolved with veterinary treatment.
Other types of abnormalities in your cat’s paws and limbs, like radial hypoplasia, can be harmful and can mimic polydactyly. Cats that appear to have difficulty walking, have twisted limbs, or shortened limbs in addition to polydactyly could have radial hypoplasia or another condition. These traits may be obvious or may only show up on an x-ray.
Cats with radial hypoplasia, sometimes called ‘squittens,’ ‘patty feet,’ or ‘hamburger feet,’ should not be bred, as the condition is serious.
Besides the obvious difficulty of clipping more nails, polydactyl cats can be prone to a few claw problems. The most common of these is ingrown or embedded nails. Some cats with polydactyly have extra, undeveloped toes that grow between the other toes. These nails can injure the paw pad or foot, and may need to be removed surgically.
Jeri Devlin says
My cat’s front paws look like mittens. His name is “Michigan”.
My cat has six toes. I named her pixie. She’s also has a heart pattern on her back!
Awww a heart pattern? Adorable. Mine is jet black with a total of 30 nails! 🙀
Brenda Ann says
I thought that 28 toes was the record. Maybe you better send your cats info so he can be the new record!!
I have a female polydactyl ,her name is Polyhemi
My polydactyl cats front paws look like mittens, we adopted him for $52.00, being from Michigan we considered it for a name, but decided to stick with the name he was already given, Elliott I added George(curious)for a middle name. We couldn’t be happier he is by far the most social kitten I’ve ever had, he’s 5months and an absolute treat, he literally plays and will crawl up on and go to sleep on top of our boxers.
Littlefoot.. from the kids movie about dinosaurs…
I have 3 polydactyl cats they are the best love them
My little girl has 24 toes, 7 on the front paws and 5 on each back paw. We love it 🙂 definitely mitten paws
I adopted a little girl with 26 toes, 6+7 front and 7+6 back toes. Very cute!
Greetings from New Zealand
7 fingers on each front foot and 5 toes on his back feet.. Jasper has an ‘un’ poly name and has some rather distressing (at least for our other 5 cats) habits which I don’t know how he came to have..
He likes to ‘pat’ the other cats and they really don’t like it. He also sleeps flat on his back. I’ve asked our vet and got the response, “Well he is a polydactyl”. My oldest cat (Trinity who is 12) has now got to a stage where he tolerates the ‘patting’, the other 3 however don’t. Being the youngest of our cats by 2 years and being 2yrs old now I’m hoping he’ll start to become less kitten like..
Jasper was the smallest of 12 kittens (11 whom survived!) who’s mother died shortly after giving birth, he was hand raised by a cat rescue organisation before coming to live with us.
I don’t think anything will stop him from his insistence on ‘patting’ the other cats, I’ve tried deterrents such as a water pistol, spray bottle and garden hose but he seems to like water and I believe he even swims (if the state of his coat when he comes inside is anything to go by).. He also likes riding our horses sitting either on their rumps or in the saddle and has had the occasion to ride on our ewe’s neck, he looked quite at home, though she was not so happy.
Thank you for posting.. first time we have heard of mitten kittens and we didn’t know what to expect with ours. You described our kitten..
We have a 24-toe mitten kitten name Buster. He is mischievous, playful, and skittish. I wished he was more affectionate. He no doubt stole our heart the day he wonder on to our property. 🙂
We recently found a kitten roaming the a near by gas station. We decided to take the kitten home. I bathe the kitten, then my husband realized the kitten had extra digits. I researched his condition and history. We decided to keep him. We named him Gypsy. We are so happy with the new kitten edition to our home.
Rikk blade says
We have a male his name swazye I call him seven swazye he’s very playful and takes dumps that will peal the paint off the walls we love him though
I wonder if the poops are a polydactyl trait…it just great metabolism? Haha
Have a stray poly I named Sparkle. She was born here on our farm in ND. Beautiful calico/tiger, shades of brown and orange. The orange in her coat appears to sparkle when light hits her at night, thus her name. Very skittish, but I talk to her a lot and she pays attention when I use her name.
My little polydactyl girl is named Stella and was found as a baby with her 5 siblings in a dump last June. She came to live with us in November through a local rescue group. She is the most cuddly kitty I have ever seen. Love her to death.
Kathy peterson says
I’m looking for a poly now. I lost mine 4 months ago and he was my world. My everything. He had 28 toes. I don’t know where to find one. I found him as a kitten in the bushes. They are special cats. I loved him so much and miss him so bad.
I have 5 poly cats. 1 is a kitten about 5 weeks old. There Moma is calco but the kitten is yellow. He’s got more than 28 toes
Bruce Radzwion says
Hi Kathy, if your still looking, I have 5 Maine Coon Polydactyl cats, ranging from 4 years old to 6 months old. All litter box trained except for one hasn’t got it right yet. I am in lower michigan, and would gladly give any of them up to a forever home. Only three of the five show extra didgets, even though they are all related.
Barb Broskey ara says
Hi Bruce. I’m super late to the party, but if you have or hear of polydactyl Maine Coons, could you please let me know? I really want a Maine Coon and my sons are begging for a poly!
Kevin Paksi says
I adopted my poly from an animal shelter.. I named him Logan because he is a mutant (Wolverine) He actually acts like a dog..lol. He liked his belly rubbed and comes to me when I whistle for him
Tammy Walker says
My boy’s full name is Rum Tum Tugger, but he answers to Tuggs, Tugger & Tug-a-Bug. You described him to a “T” describing your boy Logan! Tugger has 15 toes on his front paws with double thumbs & 14 on his back paws plus a “bonus” claw halfway up his back feet! He acts like a dog too, sleeping on his back, elly rubs, ect… We got him & his “twin” sister from a lady that has a huge cat rescue. Tuggs sister has 13 toes in the front &12 on the back paws. She is a skittish cat. They’re only 14 months old and have a LOT of Maine Coon characteristics, she should grow out of the skittishness. They were so scrawny & ill when we got them , now they’re so pretty Tuggs looks like he has a lion’s mane now. Polydactyls are amazing!
Amy M says
Too funny my Lucie plays fetch and brings it back. She likes to sleep on her nack all sprawled out when she’s not sleeping on me. I got her grom s rescue that rescued her grom s kill shelter in another state. She’s definitely got a lot of personality especially for being so young. (They’re guessing she’s about a year old-i have only had her about 2 weeks tho). Wish I could’ve posted a picture of her laying here like she owns me… We know she does.. LOL
Our poly kitty just had a litter of 5, 1 has 7 on each front and 6 on 1 hind and 5 on the other. They are beautiful and the mama named Ava will hold onto the runt. That is the special one i was talking about!
I have a poly. Cat with long gray hair she also has a bobtail the people I got her from said her mother was a poly. With a normal tail and they saw and heard a commotion outside late at night and a bobcat was having his way with Their Polly. … Now her kittens are Paul Lee’s with Bob details I am considering meeting them with American bobtail cats but I am wondering how to find people who are interested in purchasing and indeed how much I should even ask for these kittens, if indeed I do take the sun as a breeder could anybody help me please text me at **phone number removed** if you have any insight
Jennifer Morgan says
My domestic cat had a liter of 5 and all of them have 6 toes on the front and 5 on the back except for 1 she has 7 on both front paws and 5 on both back paws and it’s very rare where I live so I didn’t know what was going on with them good thing for Google. I love all of the kittens but I can’t keep them
Donna Yates says
My daughter and I took in kittens siblings both are mitten paws, mine is black and we call him King Cobra, and my daughter is a Calico named Snickers. They are so lovable, love to be held to sleep. So fun to watch them play with something small and hold it in their front paws. Just like holding a ball for us. They love following me around the house.
Lori L Campbell says
I have a ginger Male polydactyl cat… need to find a home for the 3 of my furbabies when I die I would like to have something set up for the care of them…any ideas???? They MUST BE PUT TOGETHER…NO SEPARATING THEM… I have a cancerous leision on my skull and don’t have much time left
I have a black and white polydactyl his name is puss in boots. Boots for short. He meows like a Siamese. His fur is so thick and shiny. He has mittens and boots. His mother was an outside cat my son found and brought her home she had kittens and left. I gave the kittens away she came back pregnant again so we kept her till the kittens were big enough and took them all to the Spca. They were all adopted in 2 days. My son misses the mother cat cause she would run behind him when he was on skate board follow him to the corner store and lay there waiting for him. This 1 would follow but I don’t leave him outside if no 1 is going to be home. And he is fixed.
I recently rescued a little gray kitten. She is so sweet and so smart I’m just stunned. We named her Spooky. Super skidish to the point of being ‘spooky’. Her coat is so shiny and it’s a very short hair that often gleams a silvery color. There’s one other characteristic that’s different from my past cats. She has almost like a row of stand up hair on each side of her neck from behind the ears down the just above the top of shoulder. It’s almost like a cowlick. She’s approx 6 most. old and still small bodied. We just love her. At first tho I thought she might have been a twin that the body absorbed because she’s got 8 toes on the back foot and 7 on the other back foot, then 6 on each front foot. All this time I thought she was disabled! If anyone knows anything about these characteristics please comment back. Thanks for all this info on these cats.
Our Brandy was a 16 year old polydactyl. She was all black beautiful green eyes and shiny soft fur. She passed away from a stoke a few weeks ago. She had thumbs on both feet in the front. She had two beautiful liters of kittens when she was 2 than we spayed her. She was our baby and I miss her like crazy. Vet protective over my kids and motherly to other animals in the house. We are getting a new polydactyl kitten today that is a Manx ragdoll Siamese mix. He is buff colored not sure what color his eyes will be as mom has ice blue but dad has amber eyes. He has thumbs on both front feet like our Brandy has.
Christine Pevovar says
My tuxedo girl has 26 toes!
Melissa Ward says
I have a polydactyl kitten. She’s part British Shorthair and Himalayan. Her name is Jazzy and she is the cutest thing ever.
Ida Moody says
I have a 25 toed Polly and all four feet have extras, she’s great and so adorable. She picks dry food up using het paws as hands. I’m currently looking for a black, white or gray male to breed.
I have a polydactyl little girl, Ginger. She has 28 toes. 7 on each paw. She’s a happy, healthy rescue kitten. I also have her litter mate, a little boy we named Blue and he has the normal amount of little kitty toes on each paw. They’re both precious little messes and if you can’t see Ginger’s paws you would never know there’s a difference.
I just got a solid black kitten that was born with out a tail and has 6 toes on each front paw.
I named him Salem..
He is such a sweet loveable kitten. Such a different personality from any other cat I’ve ever owned.
I have a little girl poly dactyl cat about 1.5 years old. Her given name is Miss Kitty (think Gunsmoke), but her well-earned nickname is Lucyfur. She is not affectionate in the common sense of the word….you’d have to know her to love her, like we do. Her idea of affection is to play combatively with us, and she likes to nip us. Each morning, she gets under my covers to find my hand and nip until I wake up and pet her, at which point she attacks my hand. This is just business as usual for her. Never a dull moment.
I have a Siamese polydactyl cat that has 27 all four of his back and the front about of them got a lot of flaws he is so adorable his name is sad I call him that short for Sasquatch because his feet are so big I really
His name is stash shorts for Sasquatch
Atlanta D. Humble says
I have a polydactyl calico female, 18 yr, gives birth to 2+ litters a yr with 3+ kittens being polydactyl… So far all offspring are front polydactyl only. Her name is Callie, her previous owner called her Toes. This last litter she had 2 long hair black n white polydactyl (m), long hair orange polydactyl (m), short hair black (f), short hair black n white (m), and my little girl Blue Moon Gazer… A long haired front polydactyl with main black coat, a slim white ring around neck and slightly thicker white ring behind her front shoulders. All with blue eyes. Were very fond of them and love watching them go for a swim in the kiddy pool outback. They even lay in the yard while light summer showers fall.
All honesty here.
Yogi Bear Paws because her front feet look like a catcher’s mitt! Like Yogi Berra’s.
Nancy Haryasz says
I have a black medium haired poly that was a stray in my son’s neighborhood. She used to follow the mail carrier up and down the street. I named her Velvet because her fur feels like velvet.
When I brought her home, I kept her in the bathroom until she used the litter box. She adjusted immediately and has been an indoor cat for the past 10 years. She is extremely sociable and acts like dog, following me around the house. In the morning, she jumps on my lap and waits for me to give her kisses, and she gives me kisses back.
Amy Cox says
I have a male polydactyl, his name is Caption Hook, we call him hooky, she such a great kitty.
We just rescued an orange 7 toed mitten kitten. We named him Sven. Means 7
Erika Pagtalunan says
I just adopted a female orange/cream/tan tabby kitten with extra toes on all four paws! 25 toes total I believe. Two thumbs that she uses well 😉 her name is, Pippen… aka Pipp or Pippy
My ginger tabby Aslan was born with 27 toes. One toe was removed when he was 4 months old. All four paws have extra toes. Is this very rare? His sweet feet look so large.
My Miss Gracie May is Maine coon Russian blue mix with six toes on each front paw and five on each back. She is absolutely gorgeous! She meows and purrs at the same time and it comes out a throaty song like Macy Gray, hence her name. I have lived with several polydactyl cats and I don’t care what anybody says those toes are extra love.
Susan baxter says
Interested in a polydactly cat. Lost mine due to old age. I love them. Free or a small price.
Our boy is names Toest he looks like buttered toast but has extra toes lol
Lyn Marzano says
I am searching for a poly boy or girl.
I lost my boy, Jax, in October.
I miss him terribly. I am now ready to give a new poly a great and loving home.
We adopted Dougie (when he’s a good boy) and (Douglas when he’s a bad boy).
5 perfect toes on each front foot and 1 danglie declaws on each back foot. Total 20 nails to cut.
All black, DSH, beautuful eyes what are amber/mustard colour. One white patch on his chest. That looks like a patch sometimes and other times it looks like a heart shape. Very interesting how it changes.
We adopted Dougie from a rescue called Paws and Tails Adoptions in Mississauga Ontario Canada, in September 2020.
Love at first sight, even with his under bit, determined ways and his big personality. When this wee guy wants loves and kisses, he can be persuasive and creature to let you know much he needs a cuddle and right now. LOVE IT ALL.
He is very precious to our family and JUST THE BEST new famiky member.