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Who Is the World-Record Polydactyl Cat? Meet Paws!

Written by: Ed Malaker

Last Updated on June 3, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

rear feet of a polydactyl cat

Who Is the World-Record Polydactyl Cat? Meet Paws!

Polydactyl cats have always fascinated cat lovers worldwide. These unique felines possess a genetic anomaly that results in the formation of more than the usual number of toes on their paws. While many polydactyl cats have one or two extra toes, there is at least one world record-holder with a total of 28 toes! Keep reading as we reveal the mystery and other interesting facts about polydactyl felines.

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What Is a Polydactyl Cat?

A polydactyl cat possesses more toes on their paws than the typical number seen in most cats. While the average cat has five toes on their front feet and four on their hind feet, polydactyl cats have extra digits, resulting in more toes. This condition is a genetic anomaly and can manifest in different ways.

For example, some polydactyl cats have extra toes on all four paws, while others have extra toes on only their front or hind feet. The term “polydactyl” originates from the Greek words “poly,” meaning “many,” and “daktylos,” meaning “digits” or “toes.” Polydactyly is not limited to cats; it can occur in other animals, including humans, but it is particularly prevalent and well-known in cats.

Excited Cats_Regular cat paws VS polydactyl cat paws
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Are Polydactyl Cats Healthy?

Polydactyl cats are generally healthy and experience no adverse effects due to having extra toes. In fact, some people believe that the additional digits enhance their agility and dexterity, enabling them to perform remarkable feats with their paws.

Due to their unique and captivating appearance, polydactyl cats are celebrated and cherished by cat lovers worldwide. They have become symbols of uniqueness and individuality, representing the diversity within the feline species.

Jake & Paws: Co-Record Holders?

According to the multiple sources, there are a pair of 28-toed cats, Jake (Canada) and Paws (Minnesota, USA) who share the world record. As of this writing, the official Guinness World Record (GWR) is held solely by Jake, who entered the record books on September 24, 2002.

According to this CBS Minnesota news report, Paws became a co-record holder in 2018; however, a records application search on the GWR website does not return any results for Paws’ application.

Not much is know about Jake, but Paws has a heartwarming story that starts in 2015 when Walter Nachtigall found Paws on a maple syrup farm near Cokato, Minnesota, and he noticed that she had three extra toes on her front feet and two extra toes on her back feet—28 toes in total. Walter gave Paws to his partner’s mother, Jeanne Martin, who says that Paws’s paws resemble catcher’s mitts and that she loves belly rubs. Another interesting fact about Paws is that she likes to say “hello,” especially when she goes to the groomer to get her nails trimmed.

Paw’s Influence on Polydactyl Cats

Paws’s fame has raised awareness about polydactyl cats and their uniqueness in the feline world. Many people who were previously unaware of this genetic anomaly have become intrigued and educated about the subject. As a result, Paws has become an ambassador for polydactyl cats, breaking stereotypes and promoting acceptance of their distinctive characteristics.

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How Many Toes Do Normal Cats Have?

Most cats have 18 toes, five on each front foot and four on each back foot. Paws has three extra toes on each foot, so she has 28 toes total. Polydactyl cats can have a wide range of extra toes on their paws. While some may have just one or two extra digits, others can have seven or more. The additional toes’ number, size, and functionality can vary significantly between individual cats.

Are There Other Polydactyl Cats?

Another cat named Tigger had 28 toes but died before Guinness World Records could verify it. Besides these cats, many others possess additional toes.

Author Ernest Hemingway loved polydactyl cats after a ship captain gave him one, and he kept many of them. After he died, the cats continued to live on his property, and today, there are about 50 descendants still living, and nearly half are polydactyl.

cat paw dividerOther Interesting Facts

  • Polydactyl cats have various nicknames, including “Hemingway cats,” “mitten cats,” “thumb cats,” or simply “poly cats.”
  • Polydactyl cats are more common in specific geographic regions, such as coastal areas of North America. This is likely due to them being carried around on ships.
  • Polydactylism is a genetic mutation that cats can inherit, and if one parent is polydactyl, there is a higher chance that their offspring will inherit the trait.
  • The additional toes of polydactyl cats can increase stability and balance, particularly when climbing or walking on uneven surfaces.
  • Polydactyl cats leave distinct paw prints that are easily recognizable. Their footprints are large and intricate, often resembling the impression of a human hand rather than a typical cat’s paw.
  • In some cultures, polydactyl cats symbolize good luck and prosperity.
cute little paws of a polydactyl cat
Image By: Sel_Sanders, Shutterstock

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Summary

Paws is a remarkable polydactyl cat that ties the world record with Jake for the most toes on a cat. With an astonishing 28 toes, Paws has captured the attention and admiration of cat lovers worldwide. She is friendly, loves belly rubs, and can even say “hello.” Most importantly, she has helped raise awareness about polydactyl cats so more people can enjoy their uniqueness.


Featured Image Credit: Constance Mannes, Shutterstock

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