The answer is in the illustration: polydactyl cat. As you see it is quite a popular search term on Google. So what is the origin of the word ‘polydactyl’? Well, you probably know that ‘poly’ means many and ‘dactyl’ means digit or finger, or in the case of cats ‘toes’.
The record-holding cat for the most toes was a cat named Jake and he has (or had) 28 toes, 7 on each paw, a nice simple bit of maths. He lives or lived in Ontario, Canada and is Guinness Book of Records certified. I am not sure if he is still alive, probably not as the record was from about 9 years ago or more.
However, in 2018, it was reported that a cat from Minnesota equalled the world record for the most number of toes on their paws. The cat is named Paws and he had 28 toes, three extra on each paw at the front and an extra on each of the paws at the back. Normally cats have a total of 18 toes with five toes on each forepaw and five toes on each hind paw.
The cat is or was owned by Jeanne Martin of Northfield, Minnesota. When her veterinarian trims the claws they don’t charge extra! She remarks that her cat’s paws look like a baseball’s catcher’s mitt. You know those large gloves that fielders use in American baseball which helps them catch the ball; well, I think you will agree that Paws’ paws looks similar!
You may also remember that polydactyl cats are often called Hemingway cats because there were lots of cats with extra toes living with Hemingway in and around his property on the Florida Keys. It is said that these cats were ships’ cats and they were ships cats because their extra toes made them better sailors! They were better able to keep stable on the deck of a rocking ship! It’s all legend and mystery but it sounds good.
SOME MORE ON POLYDACTYL CATS:
I’m getting a polydactyl kitten this week. Aside from extra toes, are there any other things I need to worry about?