American Polydactyl Cat

February 19, 2020
Information Details
Origin United States
Type Mutation
Cost $400 - $900
Life Span 9 - 14 years
Size Medium
Weight 7 - 12 pounds
Temperament Easy going, endearing, intelligent, mellow, outgoing, patient, playful, relax
Known Issues No known issues

American Polydactyl CatUnderstanding the meaning behind the name of this breed would help to reveal a special trait it possesses. The American Polydactyl takes its name from the Greek words “poly”, which means many and “daktulos”, which means fingers. Thus, compared to other cats, the American Polydactyl has extra toe/s. This extra digit is not a result of selective breeding; rather it is of a genetic anomaly. There is no exact evidence or record about the real origin of this breed. In fact, there were debates about whether the American Polydactyl is a cat breed at all.

This breed is recognized by the Rare and Exotic Feline Registry (REFR), a registry that was said to recognize the American Polydactyl as a specific cat breed. However, it was claimed that its procedures run counter to the standard way of establishing a pedigree purebred cat breed. Even though the name of this breed suggests that it was developed in America, there were actually no records stating its formal recognition by other cat registries in America. Arguably so, since the cat’s pedigree usually takes a long period of time to be established. It is possible for breeders to breed cats with the objective of just producing cats with an extra toe, but these cats are not recognized as cat breed for the reasons stated.

The famous author earnest Hemingway, an American who lived in Florida, Cuba and Paris, was most probably the key person through which the American Polydactyl cat has been associated. Hemingway had a love for polydactyl cats and he received one as a gift from a ship’s captain. This gift started the development of about 60 cats, out of which about 30 were considered to by polydactyl. His previous home in Key West, Florida, had been a home for these cats as well as a museum upon his death in 1961.

Due to his great love for the polydactyl cats, American Polydactyl cats are often referred to as Hemingway Cats. The American Polydactyl are often found in the East of America, which gives rise to the suggestion that the cat had actually originated in England before being brought over by early settlers to America.

Physical appearance and attributes
This is a medium to large cat with a strong and muscular body and medium boning. The body takes on a slightly rectangular form with a broad and well rounded chest. The legs of the cat are sturdy and straight, the hind legs being noticeably longer than the forelegs. They lead into large paws with one or more extra toes. Some American Polydactyl cats have bobtails, and usually their bodies will be shorter than those with longer tails.

Head of this cat is broad and medium in size. It tapers into a squarish chin which is part of a medium muzzle with a broad nose. The muzzle smoothes into cheeks that are well-developed. Viewed in profile, a gentle slope from the brow line to the tip of the nose is evident. Eyes of the American Polydactyl are large and rounded, showing a slight slant towards the wide-set ears with pointed tips. The eye can come in any color and this is also true for its coat that varies in length, color and pattern. The hair, however lies close to the body and longhair American Polydactyl should have a silky smooth coat.

Personality and temperament
The American Polydactyl is known to have a more relaxed, patient and mellow personality than most other cat breeds. However, its lovingness is certainly not lacking in any degree. Even though it is laid back in temperament, but when it comes to interacting with other friendly pets and its favorite people, the American Polydactyl can be an outgoing and sociable cat. In fact, it is especially friendly towards children. Possessing extra toe/s certainly makes it more dexterous than other cats. It has also made it an agile and adept climber and hunter. Coupled with its intelligence and playfulness, the American Polydactyl is capable of manipulating household items such as drawers, cupboards, doors and buttons of gadgets. American Polydactyl is also an adaptable breed and not demanding of attention. Such easy-going and endearing nature makes a winsome American Polydactyl.

Care and health issues
A healthy American Polydactyl can expect to live up to an average of 14 years. This is a hardy cat and because of its genetic diversity, there are no known hereditary health issues. It is still advisable to obtain a written health guarantee from qualified breeders when buying the cat. This would also help to ensure that the cat is free from other common feline ailments.

The American Polydactyl needs special attention for its claws. Since there are more toes than other cat breeds, it is important to trim the nails whenever necessary in order to prevent it from growing into neighboring toes. Shorthaired American Polydactyl requires little grooming of the coat; a weekly session will suffice to remove dead hair and to maintain its luster. Longhaired variety would require a little more effort with twice weekly grooming to prevent mats and minimize shedding.

Other basic grooming practices should include frequent teeth brushing with vet-approved toothpaste to help promote optimal oral health and regular ear checks for odors or redness that might be indicate infections.

The ideal home
This is a cat that can be kept either indoor or outdoor. Outdoor spaces need to be safe and escape-proof. Being highly adaptable and friendly towards children, the American Polydactyl proves to be an ideal pet for most types of household. It can tolerate solitude (though not for an extended amount of time). However, any love, care and attention showered on it will be returned manifolds.

Image Credit
Photo by joanna8555 - CC BY 2.0

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More information here. does not intend to provide veterinary advice. We go to great lengths to help cat owners better understand their pet cats. However, the content on this site is not substitute for veterinary guidance.

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