Do Cats Have Thumbs – Uncover the Mystery!


Cats are really flexible creatures famous for their inquisitive nature and knack for getting into trouble. You might be curious about how a four-legged animal can effortlessly jump, crawl, and break into things! Although cats don’t possess hands like humans, their paws are perfectly designed to help them thrive. If you’ve ever taken a close look at a cat’s paws, you may have observed their distinctive structure. So, do cats possess thumbs?

Indeed, cats possess two thumbs. Typically, a regular cat has five toes on its front paws and four toes on its hind legs. Consequently, cats usually have a total of eighteen toes, with a greater number on their front limbs. However, certain cats, known as polydactyl, may possess additional toes that resemble a thumb.

Having thumbs might sound strange for cats, but it’s actually a real phenomenon! Let’s explore further to understand how cats can use their thumbs, how uncommon it is, and some important things to consider.

Do All Cats Have Thumbs

Yes, cats have five toes on their front legs, so just like humans have five fingers, cats have a fifth toe that works like a thumb. However, unlike humans, all of a cat’s toes serve the same purpose.

Cats have five toes in the front which assist them in climbing and being skilled hunters in the wild. Their paws enable cats to maintain balance and evenly distribute their weight while walking.

Are Cat Thumbs Rare

It is not uncommon for a cat to possess five digits on its front paws, but it becomes unique when it has additional toes resembling mittens or thumbs. Certain cats are polydactyl, indicating that they have extra toes on either their front or back legs. The term polydactyl itself signifies “many digits”. If your cat is polydactyl, they may have one or more extra toes on either their front or back paws, although it is more probable for them to have the extra toes on their front paws.

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It’s not that uncommon to have a cat with extra toes. This happens because a special gene is passed from the parent cats to their babies, which is what makes the cat have this condition. To pass on the gene, at least one of the parent cats must have extra toes themselves.

Although it may appear unfavorable for a cat to possess these additional fingers, it does not affect their daily existence. In certain ways, having those additional limbs could potentially enhance their climbing and hunting abilities compared to cats with the usual number of toes.

If you see that your cat has extra toes, it might be a good idea to talk to their vet and get them checked out to make sure there aren’t any other health issues besides having extra toes.

Do Cats Have Fingers and Thumbs

Cats don’t have fingers and thumbs like humans do. The paws on a cat’s foot function differently from human fingers and toes, and they don’t provide the same level of flexibility. Unlike humans, who have separate fingers and an opposable thumb for grasping and holding objects with ease, a cat’s paw doesn’t work in the same way. Instead, the individual digits on a cat’s paw, both on their front and back legs, are commonly referred to as toes.

Only polydactyl cats have a thumb-like digit similar to humans, but they still can’t oppose it like humans. However, having this extra digit makes them more skillful than other cats.

Cats are able to get around using the paws they already have, and some can even open cabinets or doors using their front paws. Cats usually rely on their front paws to investigate their surroundings and may also use them to help with eating.

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How Many Thumbs Do Cats Have

A regular cat has two thumbs on its front legs, just like humans have thumbs. These thumbs are located on the medial side of the foot, where the cat also has five toes.
If you have a cat with extra toes, it’s not uncommon for them to have up to three extra toes on each leg. Although this is rare, it can happen and is generally not harmful for your cat. The cat with the most toes on record is Jake, who had a total of 28 toes.

Are There Cats With Opposable Thumbs 

Most cats do not have thumbs that can be moved opposite their fingers, as their toes are connected in a different way. However, there are a few special cats called polydactyl cats that have extra toes which they can use like thumbs. An opposable thumb is one that can be positioned across from the fingers on the same hand. This ability to grip objects is typically found in primates.

Cats with extra toes, known as polydactyls, may have enhanced dexterity when it comes to maneuvering small objects. A highly intelligent polydactyl cat could potentially develop the skill to use their paws in a way that mimics the functionality of an opposable thumb.

But the truth is, no cats have the same ability to fully use their paws like humans do with opposable thumbs. However, there is a possibility that cats could develop this ability in the future. It’s still amazing to see what cats can accomplish with their paws, even without thumbs!

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Things To Consider 

Having a polydactyl cat can sometimes lead to health issues for your pet. One potential problem is the presence of Radial Hypoplasia, a condition where a cat’s front legs have a shorter radius bone than they should. This can make it challenging for the cat to walk properly and maintain balance. As a result, you may observe the cat hopping instead of walking. Polydactylism is a symptom of radial hypoplasia.

If a cat has incomplete extra toes, it can lead to discomfort and potential risks. This can result in ingrown toenails or bothersome claws for the cat. It is important to regularly check your cat’s paws, regardless of whether they are polydactyl or not, to ensure their well-being. Cats can easily get thorns or burrs stuck on their paw pads, causing pain and difficulty in removing them independently.

You can also check this YouTube video about this topic:

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[Wikipedia] [Encyclopedia Britannica] [National Geographic] [cdc.gov] [Purina]

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