Cats with extra toes have a freaky awesomeness that we just love. Thanks, evolution! Some friends of mine have a polydactyl cat named Dougus, whom I affectionately call “The Toes.” He certainly earns the name: With six toes on each foot, he is well above average — and he’s off the charts in good looks and charm as well. Polydactyly is not unusual in cats, so Dougus is hardly alone in his freaky awesomeness. Here are five fascinating facts about six-(or-more)-toed cats.
1. Polydactyly is a genetic abnormality
Count your kitty’s toes. Odds are she has a total of 18, with five toes on each front paw and four on each rear. If your kitty is polydactyl, however, she might have as many as eight toes on any given paw. The word is Greek in origin, with “poly” meaning “many” and “daktylos” meaning “digits.” Most polydactyls have extra toes on their front paws, which sometimes resemble thumbs and make your kitty look as though she’s wearing adorable mittens. These extra digits are not opposable, which means your polydactyl cat will not be able to start feeding herself at 5 a.m.
2. Polydactyls are also known as Hemingway cats
When a ship captain gave a white polydactyl cat named Snowball to writer Ernest Hemingway, the captain kicked off a pretty fantastic obsession for one of history’s most prolific cat guys. At Hemingway’s island home off Key West, FL, he collected more than 50 cats, almost half of whom had extra toes. Thanks to his obsession, today polydactyls are frequently called “Hemingway cats.” As Catster’s Dorian Wagner did, you can visit the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, where the cat colony still thrives — and some of the kitties are descendents of Snowball, Hemingway’s original polydactyl.
Bonus fact: Polydactyls are such a big deal that they’ve made it all the way to the White House: President Theodore Roosevelt had a six-toed first kitty named Slippers.
3. The world record for the most toes on a cat is 28
The Internet cannot agree on which polydactyl kitty actually has the most toes. According to Guinness Records, the title belongs to Jake, a ginger tabby from Canada. He boasts seven toes on each paw, for a grand total of 28. Each toe has its own claw, pad, and bone structure. The rumor mill also tells of a 32-toed cat named Mickey Mouse who lived in the ’70s. But instead of polydactyly, he might have had a condition known as “double paws,” in which each paw is actually comprised of two fused mirror-image paws. Having extra toes is complicated!
4. Polydactyly is common in Maine Coons
Historically, polydactyly was a useful trait for Maine Coon cats. For a breed originating in snowy Maine, doublewide paws with extra digits functioned as natural snowshoes. At one time, as many as 40 percent of all Maine Coons had extra toes. Though the trait is no longer as predominant in the breed, Maine Coon polydactyls are still recognized as an official breed by many cat fanciers.
5. Polydactyl cats were once considered good luck at sea
Back in the day, polydactyl cats got their sea legs by accompanying fishermen on many journeys. And they earned their keep — they were rumored to be excellent mouse hunters, and their extra toes gave them better balance on ships that encountered rough waters. The cats’ many travels might explain their widespread presence today, predominantly in the United States, Canada, England, and Wales.
It’s international book day today and my son’s school did a thing where the kids were allowed to go in dressed as characters in books. In reality this turned out to be that in the reception class my son is in (4-5-year olds) most girls showed up dressed in Disney princess dresses and most boys in Marvel/DC superhero outfits. In the school yard I overheard one of the boys make a comment to a girl that she couldn’t be a princess since she had short hair. The bell rang that instant and all the kids ran off so I was just left there steaming with a piece on my mind I couldn’t get out there and then. So here’s short haired Disney Princesses.
And this is the most beautiful thing I’ve read/seen today so far
High quality prints available soon, after I add a little jellyfish cat / cat jelly / jellykitty?? into the picture (yes, more opportunities for word games lol). If you’re interested, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to be notified when they’re available!