On a cat’s paw we see digits. On a regular paw these digits are: four toes and a dewclaw. On a poly cat we can also see: 1) extra toes 2) extra dewclaws 3) thumbs 4) nubs (less frequently).
1) Toe: These digits point forward and are parallel like the four last fingers on our hands. A toe touches the ground. Any additional/extra toe will have the same structure as the standard toes on a cat’s paw.
2) Dewclaw: This is an underdeveloped digit that doesn't touch the ground. On a non-poly cat you can find this claw on the inner side of the paw. With a poly foot you may also have a (extra) dewclaw between two other digits or the dewclaw may even be absent.
3) Thumb: This digit is comparable to our own thumb. It's opposable, placed (grows from) higher on the paw and sticks out at a different angle. A thumb touches the ground when the cat stands on four paws. With polys you can see different lengths and types of thumbs, which sometimes makes it hard to differentiate a thumb from an additional toe. Viewing the pads on the back of the paws will help (see description below). Thumbs on back paws do not grow from a different angle, therefore, on a back paw the thumb looks much like an extra toe. This digit will be parallel to the rest of the toes and will, like any thumb or toe, also touch the ground.
4) Nub: This is a very underdeveloped digit, which easily can be overlooked. It doesn't have the developed claw of a dewclaw and sometimes the nail has not even broken the skin. And just like the dewclaw this digit doesn’t touch the ground. We rarely see nubs.
A. Standard plantar/palmar pad: The large main pad opposite the 4 standard toes, which consists of 3 pads attached/slightly fused to each other.
B. Terminal/digital pad: Every digit of a cat has a terminal/digital pad (a nub can be an exception to that). This pad is comparable to our fingertip.
C. Wrist pad/pisiform: The small separate pad placed much higher on the paw at wrist level.
D. Standard toes
E. Standard dewclaw
On a poly paw we will see additional pads. For example:
Additional plantar/palmar pad: Any extra toe on a MC poly foot will also be associated with an additional pad that is connected to the main palmar/plantar pad. Each additional toe will have its extra pad attached to a previous pad so that the main plantar/palmar pad is broadened with an over-all appearance resembling a 'necklace string' of pads.
Separate (‘mouse’) pad: Comparable to the fleshy part of our hand in connection with our thumb, this pad is associated with the thumb on a paw and is not attached to plantar/palmar pads. This pad is also further up on the foot than the standard plantar/palmar pad. Thumbs on the back paws will also have a separate pad.
Mitten paws: 4 toes, 1 dewclaw and 1 thumb, additional pads seperated from the standard plantar pad
Patty paws: 6 toes and additional pads attached to the standard plantar pad
Maine Coon poly mitten pawed kitten
Mitten back paw: 1 dewclaw and 4 standard toes
By ‘Vonne Bode, rev. 2015