Polydactyl cats have one problem which is untypical of domestic cats with the normal amount of toes. A polydactyl cat’s extra toes can cause a problem because the claws on those toes do not get any wear (or less wear) which might cause them to grow into the paw pads. Regularly checking and trimming the claws will prevent this problem.
Claws curl down and inwards if left to grow without natural wear through the claw impacting the ground or other objects. Older cats can suffer from the same problem because they are less active.
It can be tricky to trim a cat’s claws. Ideally all cat guardians should trim the claws of their cat when they are kittens (if they adopt a kitten) as this gets them used to it.
If the claw has grown into the paw pad it’ll be painful for the cat to have her claws trimmed but it has to be done.
Other than the genetic abnormality that causes polydactylism, polydactyl cats are like any other. They do not have any special health problems other than the relatively minor one mentioned.
To add a bit of cat trivia, Slippers, the famous White House cat belonging to President Roosevelt was polydactyl having six toes on each foot. I presume this was forepaws only. Polydactylism normally only affects the forepaws.
Boston was the center for the spread of many-toed cats in North America. When a study was conducted they discovered that 39 cats out of 311 were polydactyl.
The word ‘poldactyl’ is contructed from ‘poly’ meaning many and ‘dactyl’ a variant of -dactylous meaning toed or possessing fingers.
The drawing on this page comes from messybeast.com, a website owned and managed by Sarah Hartwell. She explains polydactylism in fine detail and with authority.
SOME MORE ON POLY CATS:
I’m getting a polydactyl kitten this week. Aside from extra toes, are there any other things I need to worry about?