Are Maine Coons more likely to have extra toes?

Do you adore feline companions, especially those with paws that seem to go on forever? If so, you may have heard of Maine Coon cats – a popular breed known for their charmingly oversized feet. But why do some Maine Coons have more toes than other cats?

Maine Coons are famous for their gentle personalities, bushy tails, and impressive size. However, what sets them apart is their potential genetic predisposition to having extra toes. While these cats have captured the hearts of many cat lovers worldwide, not everyone knows that some of them can be born with more than the usual five toes on their front paws and four on their hind paws.

Although it may seem unusual at first glance, having extra toes can actually provide significant benefits for felines. That’s why in this blog post, we will explore the possible reasons why Maine Coons are more likely to have additional digits and investigate the pros and cons of having those extra appendages. Whether you’re a seasoned Maine Coon owner or simply curious about oddities in the animal kingdom, this article promises to offer intriguing and informative insights about Maine Coon cats and their unique paw structure.

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What is Polydactyly?

Have you ever seen a cat with more than the standard five toes on their paws? If you have, chances are you’ve come across a cat with polydactyly, a genetic condition that can affect many breeds of cats, including the Maine Coon. Polydactyly is caused by a dominant gene, meaning that if one parent has the trait, there is a 50% chance that their offspring will also have it.

The extra toes can appear on any paw and range from just one to as many as seven toes per paw. This unique condition has earned cats with polydactyly the nickname “mitten cats” because their paws can resemble mittens. Interestingly, this condition isn’t new and was first documented in cats in the 1860s.

While some may view extra toes as simply a cute quirk, it’s important to note that polydactyly can have health implications for cats. The extra toes can cause problems such as arthritis or difficulty grooming if the claws become too long. However, there are also potential benefits to having extra toes. Cats with polydactyly are often skilled climbers and hunters due to their increased balance and dexterity.

Maine Coons, a breed famous for their size and affectionate nature, were originally bred in Maine for their hunting abilities and adaptability to harsh winters and rugged terrain. Their polydactyl nature was an added benefit for navigating the rocky terrain of the region. Today, many Maine Coon breeders still prefer cats with polydactyly due to this unique trait.

If you’re considering breeding your cat, it’s crucial to speak with a veterinarian or geneticist before doing so. Polydactyly is a genetic condition that can be passed down to offspring. It’s essential to understand the risks involved and take necessary precautions for your cat’s well-being.

History of Maine Coons and Polydactyly

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These felines are known for their impressive size, luxurious fur, and lovable personalities. But did you know that some Maine Coons have extra toes on their paws? This unique trait, called polydactyly, is one of the most fascinating aspects of this beloved breed. As an expert in the history of Maine Coons and polydactyly, let me take you on a journey through the origins of this quirky feature.

Maine Coons are a breed of cats that originated in the United States, specifically in the state of Maine. While they were originally working cats used to hunt rodents on farms and ships, they quickly became popular pets due to their friendly nature and striking appearance. However, it’s their propensity towards having extra toes that sets them apart from other breeds.

Polydactyly isn’t exclusive to Maine Coons. It can occur in other cat breeds, as well as in dogs and humans. However, it’s much more common in Maine Coons than any other feline breed. As many as 40% of all Maine Coons have extra toes on one or more of their paws.

So where did this unique trait come from? The origin of polydactyly in Maine Coons remains somewhat of a mystery. One theory suggests that it was a natural mutation that occurred within the breed due to the harsh living conditions in Maine. The extra toes may have provided these cats with better balance and traction on slippery surfaces, which would have been an advantage in their snowy environment.

Another theory suggests that early settlers intentionally bred polydactyl cats with native cats to create a new breed with this unique trait. It’s thought that these settlers may have brought over cats with extra toes from Europe where polydactyly was more common.

Regardless of how it originated, polydactyly has become one of the defining features of Maine Coons. In fact, some consider it to be a desirable trait in the breed as it adds to their overall charm and uniqueness. The Guinness World Record for the cat with the most toes belongs to a Maine Coon named Jake, who had 28 toes.

How Common is Polydactyly in Maine Coons?

Recent research suggests that up to 40% of Maine Coons have extra toes, making it a relatively common trait in the breed. However, we should keep in mind that not all Maine Coons are polydactyl, and even if both parents carry the gene, their offspring only have a 75% chance of inheriting it.

So why are Maine Coons more likely to have extra toes? Some experts suggest that their history as working cats on farms and ships, where having extra toes provided an advantage for hunting and climbing, may be a contributing factor. Others believe it could be due to genetic drift within the breed.

While having extra toes may seem like a fun and unique quirk, it’s essential to understand the potential health issues associated with this trait. Extra toes can make it challenging for cats to groom themselves correctly, which can lead to mats and skin irritations. Additionally, some cats with extra toes may experience joint pain or mobility issues as they age.

Advantages of Extra Toes for Maine Coons

Maine Coons are already known for their majestic size, tufted ears, and gentle disposition. However, what many people don’t realize is that they possess an incredible genetic trait – extra toes. Unlike most cats with 18 toes (5 on each front paw and 4 on each back paw), Maine Coons can have up to 7 toes per paw, totaling an impressive 28 toes. This unique feature has its advantages and makes these cats even more special.

One significant benefit of having extra toes is increased stability and balance. With more toes to distribute their weight, Maine Coons are less likely to slip or fall, making them excellent climbers and hunters. Whether they’re navigating through trees or rough terrain, their extra toes give them a competitive edge in the wild.

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But the advantages don’t stop there. Extra toes can also provide Maine Coons with an advantage in certain weather conditions. In colder climates, the additional fur on their paws helps to keep them warm and protected from the elements. Additionally, the larger surface area on their paws allows them to distribute their weight more evenly on snow and ice, preventing slips and falls.

Moreover, extra toes can increase a Maine Coon’s dexterity. These cats have been observed using their paws in unique ways, such as picking up objects or holding onto toys with greater precision. This not only makes them more playful but also increases their interaction with owners.

While there are potential drawbacks such as grooming difficulties or joint pain, the benefits of having extra toes far outweigh any negatives. These felines are truly one-of-a-kind and their extra toes only add to their uniqueness.

Health Implications of Extra Toes in Maine Coons

Maine Coons, the gentle giants of the feline world, have a unique genetic trait that sets them apart from other cats – extra toes. This adorable characteristic not only gives them a charming appearance but also provides advantages such as increased stability, balance, dexterity, and protection from the elements. However, as an expert on this topic, I have discovered that having extra toes can also lead to some potential health implications that owners should be aware of.

One of the primary health concerns associated with polydactylism in Maine Coons is an increased risk of developing arthritis. The extra toes can cause a misalignment of the foot, leading to an abnormal gait and increased stress on the joints. Over time, this can result in painful arthritis for the affected cat.

Moreover, with more toes come more nails, which can be difficult to keep clean and trimmed. Neglecting to maintain proper nail hygiene can cause nail bed infections that can lead to severe health issues. Additionally, polydactyl Maine Coons are more prone to ingrown nails, which can also result in painful infections.

Lastly, grooming can become a hassle for cats with extra toes. They may find it challenging to reach their additional digits while grooming themselves, resulting in matted or tangled fur. This can cause discomfort and require professional grooming to resolve.

How to Care for a Maine Coon with Extra Toes

Maine Coons with extra toes, also known as polydactyl Maine Coons, are fascinating felines that require special care to keep them healthy and comfortable. Here are five sub-sections on how to care for your polydactyl Maine Coon:

Keep Their Paws Clean and Groomed

Polydactyl Maine Coons have more toes, which means more claws that can become overgrown or tangled if not regularly trimmed. It’s also essential to keep their paws clean to prevent any dirt or debris from getting caught in between their toes. Regular grooming sessions can help keep your cat’s paws healthy and comfortable.

Provide a Comfortable Living Environment

Because of their wider paws, it’s important to provide plenty of space for your polydactyl Maine Coon to move around comfortably. Soft bedding can help cushion their paws and provide additional comfort. You can even add some soft blankets or pillows in areas where they like to rest.

Consider Litter Box Options

Your polydactyl Maine Coon may not fit comfortably in a traditional litter box due to their wider paws. Consider using a larger or more spacious option, and experiment with different types of litter to find one that is easier for your cat to use. You can also try placing a mat outside the litter box to catch any litter that gets caught in their toes.

Keep Their Nails Trimmed

Long nails can cause discomfort and even pain for your cat, so it’s essential to keep them trimmed to a reasonable length. With extra toes comes more nails, so be sure to trim them regularly. You may want to use a scratching post or pad to help wear down their nails naturally.

Be Mindful of Their Feet Shape

With extra toes, the shape of your cat’s feet may be different than a typical Maine Coon’s paw. This can make it challenging for them to walk or jump, especially if they have arthritis or other joint issues. Provide them with plenty of soft surfaces to land on and avoid making them jump too high. You can also consider adding ramps or steps to help them get up to higher areas.

Breeding Practices and Extra Toes in Maine Coons

The Maine Coon is a beloved breed of cat known for their stunning polydactyl feet, which can have up to seven toes per paw. This unique characteristic is the result of a genetic mutation that occurred naturally in the breed. However, breeders have also played a role in the prevalence of extra toes in Maine Coons through intentional breeding practices.

In the past, some breeders would intentionally mate polydactyl Maine Coons with each other in order to produce litters with a higher frequency of extra toes. However, as breeding practices have evolved, this practice has become less common. This is because breeding two polydactyl Maine Coons together can lead to health issues such as joint problems and arthritis.

Instead, selective breeding has become a more popular method for producing Maine Coons with extra toes. By selecting cats with a history of polydactylism in their lineage, breeders can increase the chances of producing kittens with extra toes. However, it’s important for breeders to prioritize the overall health and well-being of their cats above any particular physical trait.

It’s also important to note that not all Maine Coons have extra toes. The prevalence of polydactylism can vary from one litter to the next, and some cats may not have any extra toes at all. While some breeders may advertise their cats as “polydactyl” or “extra-toed,” it’s important for potential owners to do their own research and ask questions about the cat’s genetic history before making a purchase.


In conclusion, it’s safe to say that Maine Coon cats are more likely to have extra toes due to a genetic condition called polydactyly. This unique and fascinating trait can range from one to seven toes per paw and is caused by a dominant gene that can be passed down to offspring. While having extra toes may seem like a fun and quirky characteristic, it’s important to understand the potential health implications associated with this trait.

Maine Coons were originally bred for their hunting abilities and adaptability to harsh winters and rugged terrain. Their polydactyl nature was an added benefit for navigating the rocky terrain of the region, making them even more efficient hunters. Today, many Maine Coon breeders still prefer cats with polydactyly due to this unique trait, which not only adds to their charm but also reflects their rich history.

Although there are potential drawbacks such as grooming difficulties or joint pain, the benefits of having extra toes far outweigh any negatives. These felines are truly one-of-a-kind, and their extra toes only add to their uniqueness. As responsible owners of polydactyl Maine Coons, it’s crucial to provide them with proper care such as keeping their paws clean and groomed, providing a comfortable living environment, keeping their nails trimmed, being mindful of their feet shape, and considering litter box options.

Moreover, breeding practices have evolved over time as selective breeding has become a more popular method for producing Maine Coons with extra toes while prioritizing overall health and well-being above any particular physical trait. Therefore, if you’re considering adopting or breeding a Maine Coon cat with extra toes, it’s essential to do your research beforehand and understand the risks involved in order to ensure your cat’s well-being.

In short, these extraordinary creatures with their adorable mittens have captured our hearts for centuries. Whether you’re fascinated by their unique appearance or drawn in by their friendly and affectionate personalities, polydactyl Maine Coons are a true treasure.