Polydactyl cats-why do they have so many toes

Pictured below is a patient of ours named “Butter.” “Butter” has 26 toes - the most I have ever seen and one off from the world record!  An interesting note here is that I have worked in two Great Lakes 


 coastal communities (Huron and Superior) and have seen a large over-representation of these cats that I never saw in other  veterinary hospitals where I've worked. Seafaring days gone by must have brought some cats ashore that viewed "any port in a storm” more than in the literal sense.....

 A polydactyl cat is a cat with a congenital physical anomaly; a genetic mutation that causes the cat to be born with more than the usual number of toes on one or more of its paws. Cats with this genetically inherited trait are most commonly found along the East Coast of North America (in the United States and Canada) and in South West England and Wales. Polydactyl cats have been extremely popular as ship’s cats.

Normal cats have a total of 18 toes, with five toes on each front paw and four toes on each hind paw; polydactyl cats may have as many as eight digits on their front and/or hind paws. Tiger, a Canadian polydactyl cat with 27 toes, was recognized by Guinness World Records as having the highest number of toes on a cat.

Missed the record by one toe…..