🐶 Find out your dog's personality


Staff at shelter are stunned to see how many toes newborn kittens have

Tabby and white kitten cat-wow
© CatsProtectionGosport - Facebook

When a stray cat gives birth to a litter of four kittens at an animal shelter, no one could have predicted just how special these tiny felines would be.

By Zoë Monk

Published on the 30/05/2021, 18:00, Updated on the 03/06/2021, 16:07

A one-year-old cat called Martha had become a regular visitor at Victory Court in Bridgemary Hampshire where she was often spotted wandering around the grounds. 

No one knew where Martha had come from and all attempts to find her owner came to nothing. So the cat was taken to Cats Protection animal shelter in Gosport. And it was a good job too as soon after she arrived, she gave birth to a litter of four kittens.


Paws for thought

Once all four of Martha’s kittens had been safely delivered, the staff gave the tiny felines a good check over. It was then they discovered something rather unique about Martha’s litter.

Three of the four kittens are polydactyl, meaning they have extra toes.

Check out these 20 fun facts about cats.

While cats tend to have 18 digits, including their dew claws, Martha and her four kittens have 102 digits between them rather than the usual 90.

It’s not unheard of for a cat to have extra toes. But what is unusual is to have three polydactyl kittens from one litter. Their extra toes don’t seem to be holding the kittens back. In fact, they seem to enjoy taking advantage of their extra digits by clambering over each other.

Polydactyl pussy cats

Little Ernest who has a black and white coat has five toes on each paw and elongated dew claw thumbs. Meanwhile, his tabby and white brother Hemingway boasts six toes on each paw. The boys’ tabby and white sister Havana has five toes on each of her back paws and six toes on each of her front paws.

As you may have guessed, the kittens were named in honour of Ernest Hemingway. The American novelist was thought to have been gifted a six-toed cat named Snow White by a sailor. More than 60 polydactyl cats, of whom many are thought to descend from Snow White, live at the writer’s former home which is now a museum.

Martha and her unique litter can start looking for a family to adopt them once the kittens are nine weeks old.