Polydactyly is the state of having more digits on a respective extremity than is considered typical. In cats, this recessive trait is more common than average and has long been considered a positive trait in cats. Since the condition doesn’t tend to cause cats any pain, it’s hard not to find a cat with extra toes cute. With such a unique-looking cat, it only makes sense to give them an equally unique name!
Drawing From History to Name Your Polydactyl Cat
Polydactyl cats have a vibrant history and have touched the lives of many historical figures. It’s unclear exactly where the first instance of polydactyly in cats was found, but the trait is most common along the East Coast of North America and the South West of England. This unique trait was quickly picked up by cat fanciers who deemed the presence of the quality to be a sign of good luck.
How Many Toes Do Polydactyl Cats Have?
Typical cats have 18 toes, five on each forepaw and four on each hind paw. However, polydactyl cats have been recorded with as many as nine toes on a single paw, fore, or hind. The most toes ever recorded on a cat was 28; Jake, a Canadian polydactyl cat, and Paws, an American polydactyl cat, share this world record.
Polydactyly is most common on the forepaws. Instances of polydactyly in cats affecting only the hind paws are few and far between, but still possible.
Polydactyl Cat Names Based on Numbers
We’ll start with names based on numbers since the number of toes is what makes a polydactyl.
Polydactyl Cats at Sea
The prevalence of polydactyl cats along the East Coast of America and the South West of England is attributed to superstitious sailors. They believed that polydactyl cats were good luck. In addition, sailors thought that the cats’ extra toes made them better mousers and brought good luck to vessels who traveled with them.
It’s believed that polydactyl cats were first introduced to America on British sailing vessels, bringing them along to control the rat populations and ward off storms.
If naming your cat after the number of toes they have is a little bit too on the nose for you, consider calling your cat something seafaring-related. Polydactyl cats were regarded as good luck for sailors, and their extra toes were thought to make them better mousers on ships.
Polydactyl Cats and Witchcraft
Polydactyl cats are much less common in continental Europe than in England. This is thought to be because of their connection to witchcraft. It’s thought that polydactyl cats were hunted in association with witches, which causes their low population in Europe.
If you don’t have much of a wanderlust for the sea, you can consider some witchy names from popular media. Polydactyly was associated with witchcraft, resulting in historically low populations of polydactyl cats throughout continental Europe. So, take control of the narrative and name your cat after a famous witch!
Ernest Hemingway and the Hemingway Cats
Ernest Hemingway was considered to be a connoisseur of polydactyl cats. He was given a polydactyl cat named Snow White and became enamored with the unique trait of polydactyly.
Upon his death in 1961, his house in Key West, Florida, became a museum and a home for his cats. To date, about 50 cats live in the museum, and around half of them are polydactyl cats.
Hemingway loved polydactyl cats so much that they became synonymous with his name and are sometimes referred to as Hemingway cats.
If you’re are a classical book lover, consider a literary name for your cat! Ernest Hemingway is a famous author, and there are plenty of characters in his books that you can draw inspiration from. Heck, why not name your cat after the man himself?
- Harry (main character in Snows of Kilimanjaro)
- Helen (wife of Harry)
- Compton (Harry’s best friend)
- Molo (Helen and Harry’s servant)
- Francis (main character in Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber)
- Margot (wife of Francis)
- Macomber (Francis and Margot’s surname)
- Robert Wilson (side character in Short Happy Life)
- Paco (main character of Capital of the World)
- Enrique (creates mechanical bull in Capital of the World)
- Ignacio (side character in Capital of the World)
- Jig (main characterof Hills Like White Elephants)
- Nick (Hemingway’s semi-autobiographical protagonist)
- Adams (Nick’s surname)
- George (manager of Henry’s lunchroom in The Killers)
- Al (one of the killers)
- Max (one of the killers)
- Ole (side character in The Killers)
- Andreson (Ole’s surname
- Sam (cook at Henry’s lunchroom)
- Maggiore (one of Nick’s friends)
- Major (Maggiore’s title)
- Schatz (The protagonist of A Day’s Wait)
- Tonani (Major’s adjutant)
- Pinin (Major’s orderly)
- Liz (The protagonist of Up in Michigan)
- Coates (Liz’s surname)
- Jim (Up In Michigan character)
- Gilmore (Jim’s surname)
- Charley (Up In Michigan character)
- Wyman (Charley’s surname)
If all of this has been just a little too serious for you, consider these silly and punny names that you can give to your furry friend.
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Featured Image Credit: Meetmow, Shutterstock