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Are Polydactyl Cats Inbred? Everything You Need to Know!

Patricia Dickson

By Patricia Dickson

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Nia Perkins

DVM (Vet)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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As with humans, cats have traits that make them unique, and being Polydactyl is just one of those things. In fact, sailors once thought that Polydactyl cats had a greater advantage when it came to catching rats on their ships because of the extra toe they had. This occurrence is more common in cats than you might think.

With that said, no, Polydactyl cats are not inbred, and having a Polydactyl cat is no different than having a cat with one blue and one brown eye or a kitten with unusual, patterned colors.

In this article, we’ll tell you a little of what you need to know about Polydactyl cats.

What Is a Polydactyl Cat?

A Polydactyl cat is a cat that happens to be born with six or more extra toes on one or all feet. In fact, many of these cats have at least 18 toes, consisting of five on the front paws and four on the back. However, just as with any other animal, this can vary in each individual Polydactyl cat too.

What Are the Side Effects of Polydactyly in Cats?

There are a few minor side effects of Polydactyly in cats, namely:

  • Irregular nail growth
  • Pain
  • Injury
  • Overgrown nails
  • Infections of the nail bed
tabby cat paws on backrest of couch
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

Types of Polydactylism

There are two types of Polydactylism in cats:

  • Preaxial Polydactyly: Where the extra digit grows in before the dewclaw.
  • Postaxial Polydactyly: When the extra digit grows after the fourth toe or phalange.

Your veterinarian can help you determine which type of Polydactyly your cat has.

What Causes Polydactyly in Cats?

Polydactyly is a genetic condition that cats inherit, a mutation that’s passed down from the parents to the kitten. This gene will override the other normal genes, resulting in the extra toes. This also means that if one parent has the Polydactyly gene and the other parent doesn’t, it’s still highly likely that the offspring of those two parents will develop Polydactyly anyway. It’s interesting to note that Maine Coon cats are the most common cats to see with Polydactyly.

tabby cat licking-her-paw
Image Credit: SJ Duran, Shutterstock

Can Polydactyly in Cats Be Treated?

It’s usually pretty easy to diagnose Polydactyly as the extra digits are easy to see. However, if you’re unsure, your vet will let you know if you have a polydactyl cat, and if they need to be treated for any of the symptoms that may occur. This condition doesn’t typically require surgery, but your veterinarian will discuss this option with you if they feel it is necessary, especially if the extra toes are causing an issue.

Final Thoughts

Polydactyl cats are not inbred, this is simply a genetic condition passed down from one of your kitten’s parents. Though it may not be a big deal for your kitten, it’s best to talk to your vet to see if they think any treatment is needed to keep your cat healthy and happy.


Featured Image Credit: RJ22, Shutterstock

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