Polydactyl Cat 101: Ultimate Guide + FAQs

While on a recent visit to a friendโ€™s house, I was really fascinated by one of his cats who had these large, cute paws and extra toes. Such cats are referred to as polydactyl cats.

What exactly is a polydactyl cat? Polydactyl cats are cats born with a congenital physical anomaly that results in these cats having more toes on their paws than normal cats. Whereas ordinary cats are born with 18 toes, polydactyl cats are born with as many as 28 toes.

Are you interested in keeping a polydactyl cat as a pet? In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about polydactyls, including any health problems, life expectancy, how to care for these unique felines, their temperament, how intelligent these cats are, as well as their grooming requirements. Before getting into all that, however, letโ€™s understand whether polydactyl is a birth defect.

Is Polydactyly A Birth Defect?

Polydactyl is a congenital birth defect that is inherited from the parents. This means that if you have a polydactyl cat, there is a very high chance that some of its kittens will be polydactyl.

Image from Instagram:@sansa.thecat

Having seen that it is a genetic condition, is polydactyly recessive or dominant? Polydactyly is caused by an autosomal dominant gene. Therefore, even if only one parent is polydactyl, some of the kittens have a high chance of being polydactyl.

Is A Polydactyl Cat Inbred?

There is a common misconception that polydactyl cats are inbred. However, being a dominant gene, there is no need for inbreeding in order to select for this trait. In addition, polydactyly can appear in any cat breed. This means that it is very unlikely for a polydactyl cat to be inbred.

Is A Polydactyl Cat Rare?

No, Polydactyl cats are very common. The condition can appear in any breed, though it is more common in some breeds, such as the Maine Coon Cat. So, what percentage of cats are polydactyl?

If only one of the parents is polydactyl, about 40% to 50% of their kittens are likely to inherit the condition. If both parents are polydactyl, this number goes even higher.

Since it is caused by an autosomal gene, polydactyly is common in both males and females.

Can Polydactyl Cats Pick Things Up?

Depending on the number of extra toes they have, it is possible for some polydactyl to be better at grabbing and picking up things than other cats, with the help of the extra toes.

How Long Do Polydactyl Cats Live?


Polydactyl cats will have the same life expectancy as any other cats. Since polydactyly can appear in any cat breed, life expectancy will also depend on the breed.

That said, polydactyl cats will live for about 15 years, just like most other cats.

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Do Polydactyl Cats Have Health Problems?

The autosomal dominant gene that is responsible for polydactyly has not been associated with many health problems. This means that, aside from having extra toes, polydactyl cats do not have a higher chance of experiencing any adverse health problems compared to other cats.

Since they have extra toes, however, polydactyl cats are at a higher risk of experiencing claw problems compared to other cats. 

For instance, some of the extra toes can have ingrown or embedded nails. Such ingrown nails can sometimes cause injury to a catโ€™s paw. In such situations, the ingrown nails will need to be removed surgically.

Sometimes, cats with feline radial hypoplasia can be wrongly assumed to be polydactyl. Like polydactyl cats, cats with feline radial hypoplasia also have extra toes. However, feline radial hypoplasia is also associated with other deformities, such as having a missing or incomplete radius bone. Cats with feline radial hypoplasia should not be bred.

Are Polydactyl Cats In Pain?

By itself, having extra toes is not harmful to your cat in any way, and it does not cause any pain. However, if some of the extra toes have ingrown nails, this can be painful for your cat and will require a trip to the vet.

How Do You Care For A Polydactyl Cat?

Are Polydactyl Cats Clumsy?

Despite having extra toes, polydactyl cats are not clumsier than other cats. Actually, depending on the position of the extra toes, polydactyl cats could have an added advantage, such as the ability to grab things better.

Taking care of polydactyl cats is no different from taking care of normal cats. Here are some things you should watch out forโ€ฆ


Like all cats, your polydactyl cat requires high-quality food that contains lots of animal protein. Due to their carnivorous nature, cats derive the majority of their required nutrients from animal proteins.

If youโ€™re wondering what to feed your polydactyl cat, I recommend Nom Nom Cat Food. Made with tasty ingredients, real animal protein, and high moisture content, you can be sure that your polydactyl cat will love Nom Nom Cat Food.

Multivitamin Supplements

While polydactyl cats are generally healthy, it is still a good idea to give your polydactyl cat multivitamin supplements for better health and better immune function. For this, I recommend Vetri Lysine Plus Immune Support Supplement For Cats.

This multivitamin supplement contains Lysine, which is a great immunity booster. The chews are chicken flavored, so you can bet your polydactyl cat will love them.


Keeping your polydactyl cat healthy also means ensuring that they get adequate exercise. The best way to exercise your polydactyl is to get them an enjoyable toy to play with.

We recommend PetDroid Interactive Cat Toy. Powered by a large motor, this toy will give your cat something to chase around for hours.

Are Polydactyl Cats Smarter? Temperaments Of Polydactyl Cats

Are Polydactyl Cats Smarter?

There is a common belief among cat owners and cat fanciers that polydactyl cats are smarter than other cats. However, there is nothing about the genetics of a polydactyl cat that makes them more likely to be smarter than ordinary cats.

Image from Instagram:@sticky_vicky

Due to their extra toes, however, some polydactyl cats are capable of performing some tasks that are difficult for ordinary cats, such as picking things up, or opening windows, doors, and latches. This can make polydactyl cats appear to be smarter than ordinary cats.

This does not necessarily mean that the brains of polydactyl cats are different. It just means that they are more dextrous, because of the advantage of having more toes.

Temperament Of Polydactyl Cats

There is no personality or temperament that is specific to polydactyl cats. The temperament of a polydactyl cat will depend on the catโ€™s breed.

For example, if your polydactyl cat is a Maine Coon, they will have a social, friendly personality like most Maine Coons. On the other hand, if your polydactyl cat is a Siamese, they will have the Siameseโ€™s curious and vocal nature.

If you want a polydactyl with a specific type of personality, you should find a cat breed with the personality you want, then find a polydactyl from that breed.

Are Polydactyl Cats Aggressive?

Just like with temperament, being polydactyl does not make cats more aggressive than ordinary cats. The aggressiveness of a polydactyl cat will be dependent on its breed.

How Often Do You Trim Polydactyl Catsโ€™ Nails? Grooming Tips For Polydactyl Cats

Nail Trimming

Having extra toes means that some of the nails on your polydactyl catโ€™s toes will not get worn down by things like scratching. This means that a polydactyl catโ€™s nails will need to be clipped more often than those of an ordinary cat.

Instead of taking your cat to a pet groomer all the time for nail clipping, I recommend buying pet clippers and doing it yourself. A good choice is the JOFUYU Professional Cat Nail Clippers and Claw Trimmer. These pet clippers are made with high-quality stainless steel blades that will last for years.


How often your need to brush your polydactyl cat will depend on their specific breed and the kind of coat they have.

That said, all cats need to have their coats brushed regularly to reduce shedding. For this, you need to invest in a high-quality brushing tool, such as the Furminator Deshedding Tool.

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This tool comes with an ergonomically designed handle that makes it very easy to brush your feline buddy, plus a money-back guarantee if you donโ€™t find the tool satisfactory.

Having a cat in your home also means youโ€™ll constantly need to clean pet hairs and furs from your floors. You need to invest in a good vacuum to help you with the cleaning. My recommendation for this is the iRobot Roomba i3+.

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Having this vacuum is like having an autonomous helper at home. This vacuum will automatically clean after you, your feline buddy, and itself.

How Much Is A Polydactyl Cat Worth? The price of a polydactyl cat will depend on its breed. Polydactyl cats of high-demand breeds will be more expensive than polydactyl cats from average breeds. Most breeders will not charge a higher price just because a cat is polydactyl. However, breeders who breed selectively for the polydactyl trait will charge higher prices for these cats.

Can Polydactyl Cats Open Doors? Yes, some polydactyl cats have extra toes that look like thumbs, which gives them added dexterity that makes them capable of opening doors, latches, and drawers. Having an extra opposable toe also means that some polydactyl cats are capable of grabbing and picking things up, just like a human.

Are All Maine Coons Polydactyl? No, not all Maine Coon cats have 6 toes or more. However, polydactyly is very common among Maine Coon Cats. At some point, polydactyl cats made up about 40% of the Maine Coon Cat population. With time, however, Maine Coon have been selectively bred to eliminate polydactyly, and fewer Maine Coon are born with extra toes today.

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Pete Decker