Many think that the famous writer, Ernest Hemingway, began the polydactyl breed of cats. This proved to be untrue in my research of this strange mutation of cat limbs. The interesting breed actually begun in England. Interestingly enough, polydactyl actually means many digits in Latin.
The Hemingway legend goes like this. Hemingway was busy writing “A Fairwell to Arms,” and many more, in Key West, Florida, in a vacation home, when he stumbled upon a ship sailing the wide sea. He met the captain of the ship, who introduced him to his six-toed cat. Now, Hemingway was already a cat lover, but had never seen this endearing mutation before. He decided he wanted to own this newly discovered breed of cat as soon as possible. Throughout his time in Key West, he put together a mini island of about 100 or more polydactly cats, in all shapes and forms. There are still approximately fifty living there today that have descended from this cat island of sorts in Key West at the same location.
This location was turned into a museum called the Hemingway Museum in Key West. The cats there are taken care of by the staff and not up for sale. Even if you don’t enjoy Hemingway’s writings, he did have a talent for naming cats. He knighted them with names like Audrey Hepburn, Emily Dickinson, and Sofia Loren.
You might have many questions about Hemingway cats, as they are affectionately called. Some questions I have gotten are whether these extra toes hurt them, or can cause any serious injury in the future of the cat’s lives. Having up to to three extra toes on each foot has actually been proven to improve dexterity in cats. Although they might be a little clumsier than normal as kittens, these cats get used to their extra toe(s) rather quickly. No major injuries or illnesses have been shown to be prevalent in polydactyl cats, either.