As human beings, we all love animals with unique appearances, from hairless Sphynx cats to Scottish Fold cats with folded ears or long-haired American Maine Coon cats with extra toes, especially the 7-toed Maine Coon cats. In today’s article, let’s find out about the phenomenon of 7-toed Maine Coon cats and the truth behind it!
What is Polydactyl Maine Coon?
When thinking about Maine Coon cats, you might assume that they all have 18 toes, similar to other cat breeds. In most cases, you may even be right, as most Maine Coon cats you encounter today will have five toes on each front paw and four toes on each hind paw. But have you noticed that this is not always the case?
The Polydactyl Maine Coon cat, also known as the “Hemingway cat,” is born with extra toes on their paws. Yes, you read that right, some Maine Coons actually have a sixth or seventh toe, or even a ninth toe! The number of extra toes on each paw is determined by the genetics of each individual cat and the degree of their fur.
So, what causes cats to have extra toes? It’s due to a dominant genetic trait called polydactyl. If one of the parents has extra toes, then the kitten has a 40% to 50% chance of inheriting polydactylism. The exact origin of this trait is unknown, but it is believed that these cats developed it while working as ship cats.
Now, you might be wondering if there are any differences between a regular Maine Coon and a Polydactyl Maine Coon. The answer is no, they are essentially the same breed, except for the noticeable feature of extra toes on the latter. Their personalities and physical appearance are generally the same, aside from the doubled size of their paws. Rest assured that having extra toes does not affect the loyal and affectionate nature of these rare and wonderful cats.
The Maine Coon breed of cats can have more than just the typical 7 toes.
Polydactyl Maine Coons usually have 6-7 toes on each paw, and any additional toes will always appear in pairs on both sides. Regular Maine Coons have 5 toes on their front paws and 4 toes on their hind paws.
Personality-wise, all Maine Coons, whether polydactyl or not, share some common personality traits such as being friendly, well-behaved, gentle, good with children, intelligent, and affectionate.
Interestingly, Polydactyl Maine Coons are sometimes called “Hemingway cats” because Ernest Hemingway, an American author, was fascinated by this unique breed and was gifted a white polydactyl Maine Coon by a ship captain. Hemingway’s love for these cats grew over time, and he owned several of them. After his death in 1961, his home in Key West, Florida, was turned into a cat museum that still houses around 50 cats, some of which are believed to be direct descendants of Hemingway’s polydactyl Maine Coons.
In terms of rarity, Polydactyl Maine Coons are not necessarily rare, but they are less common than regular Maine Coons.
At Tung Loc Pet, there is a beautiful 7-toed yellow Maine Coon cat. Back in the 1950s, polydactyl Maine Coons made up about 40% of this breed. However, over the years, many breeders have actively worked to eliminate this genetic anomaly from their cats. As a result, the number of polydactyl Maine Coons today is much less than before.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no medical evidence suggesting that polydactyl Maine Coons are more prone to health issues than those with the standard 18 toes. In fact, they are often better hunters, and their extra toes make them even more agile.
Polydactyl Maine Coons are visually striking and stand out from the crowd. They are beloved for their gentle, friendly, and obedient nature. Potential owners should not worry that a polydactyl Maine Coon will differ in personality or characteristics from other Maine Coons. The only thing that sets them apart is their unique genetic anomaly.