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Cats With Extra Toes?

Updated on June 18, 2013

Kitten with Extra Toes

Notice how big the paws look with the extra toes.
Notice how big the paws look with the extra toes.

What are Cats with Extra Toes Called?

There are many names for cats with extra toes. These are the most popular:

  • Polydactyl
  • Mittens (or Mitten Cats)
  • Hemingway

Is a Polydactyl a Breed?

No. Polydactyl is a term originating from Latin meaning "extra digits."

Just about any kind of cat cat be born with extra toes, not just certain breeds. If you search the web, you can find photos of Tabby cats, black cats, white cats, mixed color including Calicos. Many of these are domestic cats, not specific breeds, but extra toes can occur on most any cat.

How do They Get Like That?

Polydactylism is genetic. This means that if one of the parent cats has extra toes, there's a good chance that some or all of the kittens will also have extra toes. This phenomena is a genetic mutation, which is passed from parent to offspring.

I have fostered more than one litter of kittens with extra toes. In one litter I fostered, only 2 out of the 4 kittens had extra toes. Another litter, all of the kittens had extra toes.

While it is possible for a kitten to be born with extra toes, when neither parent has this mutation, it is far less likely than the kitten inheriting the mutation from one of the parents.

Extra Toes or Front or Back?

Some cats will have extra toes on just one paw, some on the front paws, and others may extra toes on all four paws. The paws with the extra toes will look much bigger than a normal size paw, especially if the paw has 7 toes instead of the normal 5 on front or 4 on back (which does happen).

Opposable Thumbs?

When cats have extra toes on the front paws, one of the toes on the front paws can include an opposable thumb, which means the cat can actually grab things just like humans do.

But not all cats with extra toes on the front paws have opposable thumbs.

Sought After Cats

For some reason, polydactyl cats are very sought after. Some people are willing to pay higher adoption fees for kittens with extra toes. Why is this? Probably because the big feet are so darned adorable. I've heard some people say that they had a polydactyl cat growing up, and they fell in love with this adorable mutation, so now as an adult, they seek out the same type of cat to adopt.

© 2012 Amber Killinger


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    • profile image

      sandy denham 4 years ago

      i have a mother cat wit thumbs an she just had her offspring an they have them to

    • Amber Killinger profile image

      Amber Killinger 5 years ago

      I hope the kittens made it. Kittens with extra toes seem to be extra adorable!!

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      Kimmy 5 years ago

      My daugther found 2 kittens newborns maybe 1-2days old 1of them had 6toes

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks for sharing. I never owned a polydactyl cat, but they sure sound quite fascinating!