Amazing cat ‘breed’: American Polydactyl

The American Polydactyl is a medium to large sized domestic cat characterized by extra toes on the feet.

The body is strong and powerful with a broad chest.  It has a broad head and ears that are set wide apart.  The muzzle is somewhat square, but not foreshortened.  These are very outgoing cats.

American Polydactyls come in all colors.  They may be tailless, have short tails, or have full-length tails.  They come in both long and short hair.

The polydactyl gene is a dominant gene.  The cats may be polydactyl only in the front feet, only in the hind feet, or on all feet.

Nicknames for polydactyl cats include “boxing cats“, “mitten cats“, “mitten-foot cats“, “snowshoe cats”, “thumb cats“, “six-fingered cats“, “Cardi-cats”, “Hemingway cats“, and “double-pawed cats”.

Normal cats have a total of 18 toes, with five toes on each front paw and four toes on each hind paw; polydactyl cats may have as many as seven digits on their front and/or hind paws. Tiger, a Canadian polydactyl cat with 27 toes, was recognised by Guinness World Records as having the highest number of toes on a cat.

Registration on American Polydactyls is still open at this time.  This means that cats displaying the characteristic extra toes may be registered as American Polydactyls.  In addition, outcrosses are allowable.  Due to the dominant nature of the polydactyl gene, some kittens with “normal” feet may be born in litters.  These kittens are still registered as American Polydactyls.  The “PD” genetic code is used to designate if a cat displays the polydactyl gene.

The true polydactyly is a congenital abnormality, genetically inherited as an autosomal dominant trait of the Pd gene with incomplete penetrance.

Nobel Prize–winning author Ernest Hemingway was one of the more famous lovers of polydactyl cats, after being first given a six-toed cat by a ship’s captain. Upon Hemingway’s death in 1961, his former home in Key West, Florida, became a museum and a home for his cats, and it currently houses approximately fifty descendants of his cats (about half of which are polydactyl). Because of his love for these animals, “Hemingway Kitty Cat“, or simply “Hemingway Cat”, is a term which has come to describe polydactyls.

American Polydactyl 9

39 thoughts on “Amazing cat ‘breed’: American Polydactyl

  1. awwww… makes me miss my “lil’ man” … Had him growing up, he used to play golf with me and my brother…sit by the hole and pull the ball out of the coffee can we buried in the ground and bat the ball back to us…lol …he made the front page of the newspaper in my town also, if I remember correctly… I was young… He was the first cat they saw around there who had 7 toes on each front foot and 5 on each back… LOVED that lil’ guy, and just cats in general though! 🙂

    • You had really smart cat 😀 my kitty doesn’t play golf 😉 Do you have any pictures with your “lil’ man”? I would like to add yours cat photo to this post (if you don’t mind) 😉

  2. I live in Key West.back in 1995,a beautiful totally white Mitten kitty was dropped in front of my home.He adopted me 🙂
    I named him Purrby and he graced my world until he passed in 2003.He was a huge male cat.I loved the hugs he gave with his Mitten paws.
    A original descendant of a Hemingway cat.

    • wow, I’m little bit jealous… you really had Hemingway Cat 😉 I’ve never seen this breed live… I have got the same question for you as for ALW Custom Design :). Do you have any photos with your Purrby? I would like to see him 🙂

  3. We are lucky to have found a poly kitten when he was very young. We named him Ernest Hemingway because of his background but we call him “Hemi”. He is all black with 24 toes extra’s on both back and front. He is larger in size than our other 3 furry kids and does use those extra toes to open doors, climb in odd places but his most outstanding quality is his personality. He is a real lover, sleeps under the covers in bed with or without us (he doesn’t like to be chilly) always wants to be around us….. a real sweetheart!!!! He does have his own Facebook page if anyone has questions or would like to see more of our Hemi. His Facebook
    is Hemingway our Cat

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  5. LOVE THIS! Our normal toed cat has 6 Polydactyl kittens! All of them but one have 22 toes, that one has 23 and a bob tail! So interesting and neat!

    • You have a very prolific Tom cat roaming around! Or, your normal-toed cat carries the gene. Either way, the polys are GREAT kitties! I have had them all my life…I currently have a 2 year old male with 24 toes (7+7+5+5)…he is larger than my other cats. I fostered his litter from when they werer 5 weeks old…5 kittens, 3 polydactyls; 1 normal-toed; and 1 with only and extra claw, no extra pads (odd!). Mama was a poly. Love, love, LOVE my Toe-B!

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  7. We just found a stray kitten that is a polydactyl. I had never heard of them before but have found reading about them very interesting. This kitty has 23 toes. He is very skinny so he has been out on his own for a while but he is the sweetest little boy I have ever seen. He also seems to have narrow long pointy ears.

  8. My kitty, Cat Stephens has 26 toes. 7 on each front paw, and 6 on each back paw. He is a very special guy, fantastic personality and I love him to bits! To the people who say they are ‘weird’ or those who are ‘freaked out’ by them…I feel sorry for you and you don’t know what you are missing! They are wonderful and I wouldn’t trade mine for all the ‘normal’ cats in the world!! 🙂

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  10. We just had a litter of kittens (5) and 4 are polydactyl. I was surprised as I hadn’t heard of it. Don’t know for certain who dad is, but suspect it is our neighbor Tom who had been hanging here and I messaged the neighbor and they said he had regular toes. Some have 6 and 7 in front and 5 in back. Some have 6 and 6 in front. They are all different. We were pleasantly surprised!

  11. Reblogged this on Will's Lounge and commented:
    Very nice post!!!! I have 3 Polydactyls. All are females & calicos.Two are over a year old and are sisters, one of which gave birth to a litter of three recently. Of those three only one is polydactyl. I kept her. Beautiful kittie. The other sister, Puti, is pregnant now. I am wondering if a male polydactyl is in this next litter would it cause problems if I were to breed the two when they are of age?

  12. I just adopted my cat spock and he is a polydactyl. He has 8 toes on his paws, and is the sweetest cat ive ever met. Hes definitely a unique character. However, i was curious to know, is there any behavioral characteristics that can be caused by his genetic abnormality?

  13. I last one of my best friends, Sunshine, my polydactyl cat of 19 years. It was heartbreaking and not a day goes by that I don’t miss her. She was the funniest thing ever. I have been looking for another one to be a part of my family. If you know of one anywhere please let me know.

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