We usually talk about weird human medical conditions and anomalies, but how about animals? Did you know there were cats with extra toes, and that Ernest Hemingway owned quite a few of them?
A true cat lover, Ernest Hemingway was unarguably an amazing man, so is it any wonder that he has a cat named for him? Hemingway admired cats because of their independence and spirit. He received his first cat in Key West, Florida where he lived for several years, from a ship’s captain. It is believed that his first cat was a Maine Coon cat, but it had extra toes which technically made it a polydactyl meaning in Latin many digits.
As many as 60 polydactyl cats live in Ernest Hemingway’s former home in Key West, Florida. His will protects them and allows them to live there. Some of those cats are believed to be descendants of the first cat who lived there. They have unusual names, as they are unusual cats and so have been labeled the Hemingway cat. That nickname has been given to all polydactyls.
These extra toes, the polydact trait, are genetic. Only a polydact and breed another polydact. The Maine Coon cat is believed to have been brought to the US on board a ship and is believed to be the first breed to have the polydactl trait. Breeders believe that to be a fault with the Maine Coon breed.
Polydacts have six or more toes on the front and four on the rear. That is two more toes than on other cats. Breed registries do not like polydacts. They like cats with the correct amount of toes.
Not considered purebred, the many toed cat, the Hemingway cat, polydacts or mittens, whatever you choose to call them are much beloved by many. Too many toes don’t bother them.