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Polydactyly: Cats with Extra Toes
Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith
Muscle & Nervous System Diseases
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Q. How common is it for a cat to have six toes?
 
A. A polydactyl cat footExtra toes on a foot are common in cats, but relatively rare in dogs. This condition is called polydactyly. Cats normally have five toes on each front foot and four toes on each hind foot for a total of 18 toes. If your cat has more than 18 toes, your cat is polydactyl. We have even seen cats with a total of 24 toes. Usually, the extra toes are found on the front feet, and some people refer to these as 'double-pawed' cats.

Having extra toes is known to be a genetic trait, and breeding two polydactyl cats will increase the odds of getting polydactyl kittens. Breeding for these 'double-pawed' cats, however, is not advised. It is a genetic defect and may be associated with other conditions as well. Extra toes pose no medical problem other than the nails do not wear evenly and ingrown nails may result. This can be prevented with frequent nail trimmings.

Some of the famous cats in the world have had six toes. Teddy Roosevelt's extra-toed cat, 'Slippers,' occupied the White House during his presidency. 'Princess Six Toes' was one of the 60 beloved felines kept by Ernest Hemingway and her photo appeared in the New York Times and other national magazines.

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