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How Many Toes Does A Cat Have – Unravel The Mystery

How Many Toes Does A Cat Have – Unravel The Mystery

As any new cat owner, you want to know everything about your little furry friend you’re now responsible for. One of the first things you notice on your kitten is their cute little paws. But, how many toes does a cat have on each of their cutie paws?

Wonder no more as we prepared all you need to know about your cat’s paws and we’ve made sure to cover the normal number, deviations and other things.

Keep reading to find out! 

How Many Toes Does A Cat Have On Each Paw?

Cute cat in cardboard box

I’m sure that you’ve tried to count toes on your cat’s paw when you’ve played with her, am I right? Cats should have 18 toes, considering 5 on each front paw and 4 on each hind paw.

18 can be a surprising number, but we must take into consideration that cats are not similar to us and they can have different numbers of toes on back and front paws. That’s why their back paws have four toes and front paws have five on each. 

But why are their paws so different and special? It has to do with paw’s functions. Their front paws are like hands to us, they’ll use it to touch something, grab or push the toy, clean themselves, especially when they “wash their face”. 

However, their back paws and toes are there to help them while running around, jumping on high surfaces and other things. Since they have scent glands on their paws, they can sweat on their toes to relieve excess temperature. 

Their toes are really soft which makes them perfect sneaking animals that can jump and jump and we won’t catch a noise. 

Since their toes have a lot of important functions in their everyday lives, it is recommended that you trim your cat’s nails in order to keep them safe and healthy. Be prepared for a challenge since cats hate getting their nails cut.  

How Many Toes Does A Polydactyl Cat Have?

Close up of a polydactyl cat's extra toes

Well not every cat owner will stop counting at 18 toes, some felines might have a bigger number. If that is the case, they’re usually referred to as polydactyl cats.  But, that is not a problem at all, it is not alarming or concerning if your cat has more toes than usual. 

Why? Because there is no problem at all if your cat has more toes. On the contrary you have more toes to admire in your cat’s paws. The only issue that your cat having more toes might cause is trimming their nails. 

We need to mention feline radial hypoplasia, which is a health issue that people often mistake for polydactyly. The thing is, this health issue causes the development of toes right next to the normal ones, which makes a cat’s paws significantly bigger. 

How Does A Cat Become Polydactyl? 

It has to do with genetics, which means that if your cat is polydactyl it probably has a parent with extra toes. 

These types of cats can be seen all over the world, but they’re mostly seen in Canada and the east coast in North America. You can also find them in Wales and South West England. 

Polydactyl Cats Care 

You may think that these cats, being different from other feline counterparts, need different care, but that is not the case. Don’t be fooled, these cats are easy to care for, you care for these cats as similar as you would for a cat with 18 toes. 

This is due to the fact that they don’t develop any health problems because of it. Just make sure to check your cat’s paws, and trim its nails to prevent in-growns and any infections possible. 

RELATED: What Happens If You Don’t Trim Your Cat’s Nails?

Polydactyl Or So-Called Hemingway Cats 

Rare polydactyl orange cat showing large paw with extra toes.

Let’s learn a bit more about these special felines: 

1. Mittens

When they get an extra toe in the middle of their paw, when you look at it it seems like they have a mitten or a thumb. Which, once again, is not a problem at all, but adds more cutennes to their paws and overall look of your furry friend. 

2. Inherited Trait 

The polydactyly is a genetic abnormality that causes cats to have extra toes on their paws. Cat will probably inherit this from one of its parents. 

In most cases, cats will have more toes on their front paws, but there is also a possibility that they have extra toes on their hind paws. Buuuut, if it happens that a cat has extra toes on all four of its paws, you have a truly rare species. 

3. Polydactyl Cats Bring Luck 

These special creatures are considered to be lucky charms to sailors, which is why that sailors always made sure to bring one when they have a long journey trip over the sea. 

But, polydactyl cats were essential to sailors for one more thing, their extraordinary ability to catch mice. Polydactyl cats made sure that all the supplies were safe on the ships from all animals and mice. 

4. Polydactyl Cat May Actually Benefit From This Abnormality

A polydactyl cat sits on a grey chair

This can sound weird but, it is really interesting when you look at it. The polydactyly will cause your cat to develop more and it will be more on the large size which will be easier when they need to balance on any surface. 

Along with that, the hunting, jumping, and running around are all activities that will become much effortless for your cat. If you have a polydactyl cat, you need to provide it with scratching posts, if you want to avoid your furniture being scratched. 

5. Jack, The Famous Polydactyl Cat

Jack is the polydactyl cat that holds the world’s record for having the biggest number of toes. Jack has 28 eight toes with seven on every paw. Could you believe that? 

6. Polydactyl Cats Are Called Hemingway Cats Due To  Are Ernest Hemingway

Polydactyl cats are also known as Hemingway cats because this famous writer adored them.

The captain gifted him a white polydactyl cat called SnowBall and from that moment he became number 1 fan of those felines. 

When Hemingway died, his house was turned into a museum, and also a home for many of his cats. To be precise, a home to 50 cats, and 25 of those cats were actually polydactyl cats. 

Final Thoughts 

So, let’s repeat! How many toes does a cat have? A normal cat is supposed to have 18 toes, four on each back paw and five on each front paw. But, cats with more paws also exist and are called polydactyl or Hemingway cats. Those cats have more than 18 paws. 

No matter the number of toes on each paw, we can all agree that our furry  friends are gorgeous and special creatures that light up our days. 

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