Polydactyl cats


CATS have five toes on their front paws and four on their back, unless they are polydactyl, which means having extra toes. 

Although these cats initially tend to have more difficulty learning to walk, once they’ve got the hang-of-it the extra toes seem to give them greater manual dexterity than non-polydactyl cats, including catching objects with a single paw.


In Boston (USA) there is such a high incidence of polydactyl cats that the term ‘Boston Thumb Cats’ was coined for eight toed cats.

Tiger the polydactyl cat with a total of 27 toes – normal cats have 18 – is officially the cat with the most toes according to the Guinness World Record.

One of the more famous fans of polydactyl cats was Nobel Prize winning author Ernest Hemingway.

His former home in Key West, Florida became a museum and home for his cats – there are currently 50 descendants – after his death in 1961.

Polydactyl cats are also known as ‘Hemmingway cat’, although these cats have a host of other affectionate nick-names too.

Including ‘Boxing cats’, ‘Mitten cats’, Mitten foot cats’, ‘Thumb cats’, ‘six-finger cats’ and ‘double-pawed cats’.

They are also known as ‘Cardi-cats’ in Wales as they are very common in the Cardigan area.

Photo credits: Rudy Suarez



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