Have you ever heard of a cat with extra toes? If not, get ready to be amazed! Polydactyl Maine Coon cats are a fascinating breed that has been capturing the hearts of cat lovers for years. These unique felines have an unusual genetic mutation that results in extra digits on their paws, usually affecting the front paws or both front and back paws.

But there's so much more to these cats than just their physical appearance. From their history to their personality traits, there's a lot to know about polydactyl Maine Coon cats. So, if you're curious to learn more about these remarkable cats, keep reading!

The picture above is my cat AlieN. His mom and dad met in my backyard. AlieN was born under the step he is sitting on in this photo. His dad and all his siblings were polydactyls. After we had them fixed, they lived in my backyard and gardens. Now, 18 years later, only AlieN is still here. Recently, he decided to become an indoor cat, so he moved in with me, Chloe and Thor.

What Are Polydactyl Maine Coon Cats?

Polydactyl Maine Coon Cats are a unique breed of feline that possess more than the usual number of toes. These cats have extra toes on either their front or hind paws, sometimes even both. The word polydactyl comes from the Greek words "poly," meaning many, and "daktylos," meaning digits.

This genetic mutation can occur in any cat breed, but it's most commonly seen in Maine Coons. Polydactyly appears to be more common in certain regions where the climate is cold and harsh, such as New England and Canada.

While some people think this anomaly affects a cat's mobility or overall health negatively, there are several benefits associated with having extra toes. For instance, polydactyl cats tend to have better balance than regular cats due to their larger, wider paws. Additionally, they're known for being excellent hunters thanks to their enhanced grip capabilities.

There are a variety of nicknames for cats with extra toes: mitten cats, thumb cats, snowshoe cats, cats with hands, six-toed cat.

Polydactyl Maine Coon Cats are an intriguing aspect of feline genetics that continues to fascinate pet owners worldwide.

The History of Polydactyl Maine Coon Cats

Polydactyl Maine Coon Cats have a fascinating history that goes back to the early days of America. These cats were originally bred in the New England region, where they were prized for their hunting skills and friendly personalities. The polydactyl trait was common among cats in this area, and it is believed that sailors brought over cats with extra toes to help control the rodent population on ships. Over time, these cats interbred with local felines, leading to the development of the Maine Coon breed.

The first written record of a polydactyl cat in America dates back to the 1860s, when a black and white cat named Captain Jenkins was featured in an issue of Harper's Weekly. Captain Jenkins had seven toes on each paw and was said to be an excellent mouser. Today, polydactyl Maine Coon cats are still highly valued for their unique appearance and friendly personalities. They are recognized as a separate breed by some cat associations, while others consider them a variation of the Maine Coon breed.


Polydactyl Maine Coon cats, also known as "Hemingway cats," are a unique breed of cat characterized by having extra toes on their paws. The origin of polydactyl Maine Coons is uncertain, but it is believed that they were brought to America by early European settlers.

 These cats became popular along the east coast of the united states, especially in New England's port towns because their extra toes helped them catch rodents and be better ship companions. They are also more common around the port towns of western England and south west England.

According to scientific research, this condition is caused by a genetic mutation; one or both parents must carry the gene for polydactylism for a kitten to be born with extra toes. The trait has been prevalent among certain breeds such as the Maine Coon, which have an increased chance of producing polydactyl kittens.

Despite some potential health concerns related to the mutation, many people prefer polydactyl cats because they believe it gives them better balance and allows them to hunt more effectively. Some even consider these felines lucky and treat them as rare treasures due to their unique characteristics.

Polydactyl Maine Coons - Cats With Hands

Polydactyl Maine Coons - Cats With Hands

Science of Polydactylism

Polydactylism is not harmful to the cat and can even provide some benefits, such as better balance and hunting abilities.

Contrary to popular belief, having extra toes is not an illness. In fact, the polydactyl gene is an autosomal dominant gene that can be traced back to the feline's ancestral lineage. It occurs in cats due to environmental and genetic factors.

Polydactyly occurs when there's a mutation in one of the genes responsible for digit formation in cats. While it doesn't affect their health negatively, some people still associate it with "good luck." With advancements in science and knowledge about genetics, we now understand that this trait isn't magical or rare.

Characteristics of Polydactyl Maine Coon Cats

Polydactyl Maine Coons usually have an additional digit on their front paws, but can range from one to several extras on each paw. This condition is also known as hyperdactyly and is caused by a genetic mutation. This unique trait doesn't affect their overall health or behavior in any way - they're just as active and playful as regular Maine Coons.

Aside from their extra toes, polydactyl Maine Coon cats have other distinctive features that set them apart from other breeds. They are typically larger than non-polydactyl cats and have a more muscular build. Their paws are also wider and more rounded, giving them better balance and stability.

Benefits of Polydactylism

Polydactylism, the condition of having extra toes, can be found in many cat breeds and is considered a harmless genetic anomaly. While some people view it as a deformity or defect, there are several benefits to polydactylism. Having extra toes often means a larger paw surface area which allows for better grip and balance.

Polydactyl cats are often better climbers and hunters due to this increased dexterity and grip. They also tend to be more agile and have a better sense of balance, making them less prone to accidents or injuries.

Polydactyl Maine Coon Cats also tend to be larger than their non-polydactyl counterparts, making them even more impressive climbers.

Another benefit is that polydactyly can lead to fewer health problems. With additional toes, there is less stress placed on their joints which causes less wear-and-tear over time. This means they may experience fewer hip or joint issues compared to other cats.

In addition, those extra toes add character and uniqueness to each individual cat!

black polydactyl cat

Most Common Polydactyl Breeds

Polydactyl Maine Coon cats are one of the most well-known breeds with this condition, and it is believed that their prevalence in Maine may be due to the fact that sailors brought over cats with extra toes to help control rodent populations on ships. While polydactylism may not affect a cat's health, it is important for owners to keep an eye on their cat's paws and trim their nails regularly to prevent any discomfort or issues with mobility.

Polydactyl Maine Coon cats are not the only ones with extra toes. While this breed is known for its polydactylism, there are several other breeds that can have extra digits, including the American Shorthair, Pixie-Bob, and some Ragdoll lines. So there is no specific breed of polydactyls.

Legends About Polydactyl Cats

The Myth of the "Lucky" Extra Toes: Separating Fact from Fiction

One of the most common legends surrounding polydactyl cats is that they bring good luck. This belief has been around for centuries and is still prevalent in some cultures today. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim. In fact, having extra toes can sometimes cause health problems for cats, such as difficulty walking or grooming. It's important to remember that polydactylism is simply a genetic mutation and does not determine a cat's personality or luck. So while having a polydactyl Maine Coon cat may be unique and interesting, it won't necessarily bring you any extra fortune.

Historical Significance of Polydactyl Cats in Maine Coon Breed

According to legend, Polydactyl Maine Coon cats were preferred among sailors and captains during the early shipping days. It was believed that their extra toes gave them better balance on sea vessels. Some even thought they could bring good luck! In fact, many of these cats could be found on ships in Maine's ports as far back as the 1800s.

The historical significance of Polydactyl cats in Maine Coon breed is evident by their widespread presence in various coastal towns and villages located near harbors used for trade and commerce. Their popularity has since spread beyond shipyards and across the world thanks to famous figures such as Ernest Hemingway who owned over 40 polydactyl felines throughout his life.

Famous Polydactyl Cats

Hemingway Cats

One of the most famous polydactyl cat enthusiasts was the writer Ernest Hemingway, who had a colony of these cats at his home in Key West, Florida. In fact, many people refer to polydactyl cats as "Hemingway cats" in his honor. Hemingway, an avid cat lover, was gifted a white six-toed polydactyl cat named Snowball by a ship captain in the 1930s. Snowball became the progenitor of a unique polydactyl cat colony at Hemingway's home in Key West, Florida.

To this day, approximately fifty descendants of Snowball, often referred to as "Hemingway cats" or "Hemingway's cats," still reside on the property, which has been turned into the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum. Visitors to the museum can observe these delightful polydactyl cats, basking in the sunshine and freely roaming the grounds.

The Hemingway cats have become iconic symbols of Key West, attracting tourists and cat enthusiasts from around the world. These polydactyl felines, with their distinct personalities and charming extra toes, have even been granted special status as an endangered breed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

polydactyl cat

Apart from the Hemingway cats, other famous polydactyl felines have made their mark in history. Paws, a polydactyl cat owned by President Theodore Roosevelt, was a beloved pet in the White House. Paws garnered attention for her extra toes and became a favorite subject of newspaper cartoons during Roosevelt's presidency.

Polydactyl cats were believed to bring good luck to sailors and were often kept on ships. Today, polydactyl cats continue to capture the hearts of cat lovers all over the world, with many internet-famous felines boasting extra toes and unique personalities.

Adopting a Polydactyl Maine Coon Cat: What You Need to Know

Adopting a polydactyl Maine Coon cat is not much different from adopting any other cat breed. However, it is important to note that polydactyl cats may require extra attention when it comes to their paws. Make sure to regularly check their claws and trim them if necessary. Additionally, polydactyl cats may have difficulty using traditional litter boxes, so consider purchasing a larger box or one with lower sides. It's also important to note that some breeders charge more for polydactyl cats due to their rarity. When adopting, make sure to ask about the cat's health history and any potential genetic issues related to polydactylism. With proper care and attention, your polydactyl Maine Coon cat can live a happy and healthy life as a unique and beloved member of your family.

Caring for Your Polydactyl Maine Coon Cat

Polydactyl Maine Coon cats require extra care and attention compared to regular cats. As they have more toes, they are more prone to ingrown nails and infections between the paw pads. It's important to regularly check your cat's nails and paws for any signs of discomfort or infection. Additionally, polydactyl cats may also have difficulty grooming themselves due to their larger size and may require assistance in keeping their fur clean and mat-free.

In terms of exercise, polydactyl Maine Coons love to play and be active. Ensure you provide them with enough opportunities to climb, jump, scratch, and run around.

When it comes to feeding your polydactyl cat, ensure that the food is appropriate for their age, weight, activity level as well as any medical conditions they might have. Regular vet visits are a must for all cats but especially so for polydactyl breeds who are susceptible to certain health issues.

With proper care and attention though, your polydactyl Maine Coon will lead a happy life full of playtime adventures!


How Much Is a Polydactyl Cat Worth?

A polydactyl cat’s worth depends on various factors including the breed, the breeder, and the age of the cat.

Currently, the average cost of adult polydactyl cats is around $300 to $800.

The kittens of some popular breed of polydactyl, like American Polydactyl cats, can cost about $1300. Polydactyl Maine Coon kittens may cost even more.

In general, the polydactyl variant of a particular cat breed is more expensive than the regular variant of the said breed.

Polydactyl Maine Coon cats are a unique and fascinating breed with a rich history and many interesting traits. They have captured the hearts of many cat lovers around the world, thanks to their extra toes and playful personalities.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. What are polydactyl Maine Coon cats?

A. Polydactyl Maine Coon cats have extra toes, often making their paws look like mittens.

Q. Who breeds polydactyl Maine Coon cats?

A. Many breeders intentionally breed polydactyl Maine Coon cats for their unique appearance.

Q. How many toes do polydactyl Maine Coon cats have?

A. Polydactyl Maine Coon cats can have up to seven toes on each paw, instead of the usual five.

Q. What are the benefits of owning a polydactyl Maine Coon cat?

A. Polydactyl Maine Coon cats are known for their friendly and affectionate personalities, making them great pets.

Q. How do I care for a polydactyl Maine Coon cat?

A. Caring for a polydactyl Maine Coon cat is similar to caring for any other cat, including regular grooming and veterinary check-ups.

Q. What if I'm not sure I want a polydactyl Maine Coon cat?

A. While polydactyl Maine Coon cats are unique, their extra toes do not affect their health or behavior in any significant way.

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