Cats are considerably different from humans when we talk about toes. Cats do not have the same amount of toes in each paw.
The majority of cats have 18 toes divided between their four paws. This is because the typical allocation of the toes is five on each front paw and four toes on each back paw. However, due to a mutation, some cats can be born with 22 toes.
Do You Know What A Paw Is?
A paw is the same as a hand for humans. The description of a paw is the soft foot-like part of a mammal. In most cases, paws are for animals with four legs.
Some of those four-legged animals with paws that we can mention are dogs, cats, hamsters, and most Felidae.
Do Cats Have 20 Toes?
To answer if cats have 20 toes depends on if you refer to most of the cats. The average cat does not have 20 toes. Of course, we can find cases of cats having 20 toes due to any mutation or particular condition. But the average cat goes from 18 to 22 toes.
Several researchers and experts have shown that cats in specific regions have more toes than others. We refer to countries and cities when we say particular areas across the globe.
The unique condition of having extra toes is called Polydactyly. Polydactyly is when a person/animal is born with more fingers or toes in their feet and hands. Most of the time, another finger or toe will grow next to the fifth finger or fifth toe.
The creation of an extra finger or toe will be based on bones. However, people and animals with this condition do not have joints to move this finger. In some instances, people and animals affected will not have bone either, just creating a soft tissue part.
Another fact about cats is that cats have flexible toes. Just like we can twist and turn our fingers, cats can easily twist and turn their extra flexible paws and, more specifically, their toes.
Flexible paws help them whenever they need to grasp something while climbing, jumping, playing, and hunting. It’s one of the several reasons why kittens are so flexible while climbing high and perpendicular surfaces.
Does Having Extra Toes Affect A Cat’s Health?
The short and simple answer is no. Polydactyl cats can have an average life span length with no issue. Cats with an extra toe usually only suffer from balance problems. However, if the other toes grow in an area with a wrong angle, the toe can create long-term issues for the paw and foot skin.
The average Polydactyl cat lifespan is 15 years. Polydactyl is regardless of the cat’s breed. But outdoor cats have a lower life expectancy than cats who live indoors. In addition, to have more toes, this condition can cause twisted forelimbs and pain. Fortunately, it’s rare.
Why Do Cats Have Five Toes On The Front And Four On The Back?
We can resume the answer into one word, evolution. Evolution is the change in the characteristics of biological populations made over successive generations for those who don’t know. These changes are the expressions of genes that are transforming from parent to their successor.
To get to the bottom of this intriguing question, we need to travel back in time to our ancestors and evolution. Cats have revolutionized their Felidae ancestor by having four toes in the back and 5 in the front paw.
Cats with four toes on the back are proven to run and move faster than cats with more than four toes on the rear paw. With the studies made by the subject matter experts, we have noticed that cats with five toes on the front foot can grab their prey at a successful rate. Most of the cats have five toes on each front paw and four toes on each rear paw.
Have you ever seen cats climbing to almost impossible places? Places like trees, roofs, even walls. Their five toes on the front foot allow them to reach these places; however, their four toes on the rear foot are because of the need to accelerate quickly. Cats rely so much on speed to catch their prey, which is why evolution came to be a significant factor in removing that fifth toe on the back paw.
What Cat Has The Most Toes?
Currently, the polydactyl condition on cats is not related to a specific cat’s gender or race. Instead, the situation is related to a gene that was transferred from one of their ancestors.
Until now, a Canadian cat called Jake, born in the early 2000s with 28 toes, seven on each paw, holds the record for the most toes. At the moment, this was one of the most strange cases for veterinarians around the globe.
There are no records if Jake is still living. However, based on the average life span of 15 years, it is hard to believe that Jake is still alive.
Same as people, polydactyl cats have nicknames. Some of the nicknames we can utilize are the following:
- Hemingway Cats
- Mitten Cats
- Conch Cats
- Boxing Cats
- Mitte-Foot Cats
- Snowshoe Cat
- Thumb Cats
- Six-Fingered Cats
Based on history, polydactyl cats were thought to be a lucky charm by sailors. They found their way onto ships, their extra toes giving them more balance on vessels in bad weather. They were also thought to be better mice catchers.
It has been said that there are fewer polydactyl cats in Europe because many of these cats were considered witches’ familiars and hence destroyed.
Extra Toes won’t cause problems most of the time. Generally, the worst thing about a cat having extra toes is the extra claws to trim. However, occasionally, some of these kittens might have recurring issues with particular nails tending to be ingrown if not managed well. Hence, it’s a good idea to keep track of this if you adopt a furry polydactyl family member.
Some owners of these cats will say that they are more intelligent. Unfortunately, there are no studies to back this up, but in general, cats are brilliant. This common thought may be because these cats can learn how to open doors, latches, windows, or even hold items.
It isn’t something they know how to do because of their extra toes, but the skills they can learn because of them. At the same time, they may not technically be more intelligent than any other cat. They can learn to open doors or windows, and this makes it seem like they’ve got a leg, or a toe, up on other cats.
The paws of polydactyl cats get lots of attention for being especially cute. Some vets even claim that polydactyl cats are remarkably tame and friendly, possibly coming from a lineage of cats that lived in close quarters with people.
Whatever the history, the consensus seems to have agreed that polydactyl kittens are among the most loveable and delightful feline companions—and we can’t say we blame them.
What’s Considered Normal?
To conclude, we can say the average number of toes should be 18 toes. The allocation of the toes should be as five toes for each front paw and four toes for each rear paw. Anything above or below this should be considered abnormal.
Shawn Manaher is a serial entrepreneur but when he isn’t working, he loves dogs. He’s owned different pets over the years, and always gives a part of his heart to each pet.