Monday, January 23, 2023

Why Do Cats Have Extra Toes

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In Some Countries Maine Coons With Extra Toes Have To Be Neutered So That They Cant Reproduce

Why Do Some Cats Have Extra Toes? | Hemingway Cats

The embracement of the polydactyly Maine Coon is not all over the world. Regulations on breeding and the ability for the said poly cat to show nationally varies by country.

It ranges from regions that outright ban the breeding and showing of cats with extra toes to others who allow them to display right next to their pedigreed siblings.

Some countries or even breeders in the U.S. a few years ago would advise you to neuter their Maine Coon with polydactyl to prevent the mutation from spreading. While the variation itself doesnt affect the cats life, it, in fact, will enhance some of its abilities depending on the mutation type.

They are just looking form the viewpoint of caution. When there is something that is structured out of the ordinary their issues of inflammation and infections if the toes do not sit right.

This is something that could be discussed with your vet to make sure you are accommodating your cat to the best of your abilities. If your vet has come to the conclusion that the extra toes will, in fact, affect the cats life, then the most preferred method is the removal of the toes.

Out of consideration for the animals, some nations have come together as The Counsel of Europe to sign the Pet Protection Treaty that provides restrictions on the countries conduct towards pets, including how those pets will be breed.

Germany, in particular, is incredibly strict with their restrictions. Deeming even Rex breeds un-showable due to their abnormal coat.

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Why Does My Cat Have Two Claws On One Toe

Polydactyly is caused by a genetic mutation in a dominant gene and usually results in the formation of anywhere between four to seven toes on a kittys paws. The front paws are most often affected by polydactyly, but it can also occur on the hind paws its extremely rare for a cat to have polydactyly on all four paws.

Does Your Feline Have Extra Toes The History Behind Polydactyl Cats

Most cats have 18 toes five toes on each of their front feet, and four on the back. My cat, Mandy Pawtinkin, is blessed with 22 toes. She has a congenital physical anomaly called polydactyly . It is a genetic mutation that causes cats to be born with more than the usual number of toes on one or more of its paws.

Having practiced as a veterinarian in Ontario for several years before returning to my native Nova Scotia, I was intrigued by what appeared to be many more polydactyl cats in our region. Doing some research, I found out there is indeed a higher incidence of polydactyl cats in the Northeastern US, Halifax, and a pocket in England and Wales. Being a Lunenburger, I was especially delighted to find that there is a maritime connection involving these fascinating cats.

It is believed that English Puritans might have taken polydactyl cats on their ships to Boston during the mid-1600s. The offspring of these cats are believed to have then travelled on trading ships from Boston to Halifax, which could explain why these areas have higher than normal incidence of polydactyly. Polydactyl cats were thought to be lucky by sailors. They found their way onto boats, their extra toes giving them added balance on ships in stormy weather. They were also thought to be better mousers. It has been said that there are fewer polydactyl cats in Europe because many of these cats were considered witches familiars and hence destroyed.

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Polydactyl Cat Claw Problems

Oh yes, thats an obvious problem in polydactyl cats. Having extra toes means additional problems. The most common problem is ingrown or embedded nails. Some of these sweeties may develop having premature toes to grow between the toes. These nails injure their paw pad or foot and may need surgery to get rid of it.

If you have a polydactyl cat, you need to pay attention to your cats nails by keeping them in shape and inspecting any signs of abnormalities that might appear on their toes. Sometimes the extra toes do not grow in suitably. And that is what leads to difficulty in walking, and again, they might need to undergo surgery.

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One more problem is an injury. The nails that grow outward may catch on things and come off. Although its not really a life-threatening problem, it is awfully painful for the cat.

But its not like each, and every polydactyl cat would face these problems. Its just that they are prone to having these problems because of the extra toes that they are born with.

One Of Hemingways Cats Was Jailed

Cat Facts: Why Do So Many Cats Have Extra Toes?

In 2016, Martha Gellhornnot the war correspondent who was Hemingways third wife, but the gray tabby named after hernipped at a tourist and found herself behind bars at the vets office. It was the first time ever and the woman was aggressive with the cat, the homes manager told the Miami Herald. They are pets. We have 32 employees who consider them five-day-a-week pets. After a 10-day quarantine, Martha was returned to the museum. Her jailers had dubbed her a sweetheart.

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Polydactyl Cats From Our Readers

We asked readers to share their polydactyl love with us.

Heathcliff is a 9-month-old domestic longhair . He loves his teaser wand toy, listening to podcasts with his mama and posting on his Instagram page. He also has the most common form of polydactyl a thumb on both front paws. Elizabeth Ilean

Leo has 28 toes. Hes a big furry ball of love. Diane Crawford Gorton

This is Nacho. We got him from a rescue group in northern Minnesota. Hes about 6 years old. Tammy Earsom

I used to have a cat who had 27 toes. Yep 27! He looked like he had four catchers mitts for paws. Dan Rahenkamp

This is my late cat, Owen. We always used to say he was wearing oven mitts. He once caught a piece of paper between his paws and his thumb! Annie Butler Shirreffs, Catster Senior Editor

Toe fluff for days! This is a close up of a polydactyl cat paw from reader Kate Elizabeth Atkins late cat, Gloie.

Thumbnail: Photography by Andrew Marttila | The Great Went.

Ziggy and Tory work as feline muses for Sandy Robins, an award-winning multimedia pet lifestyle expert, author and pet industry personality. They like to disrupt the workflow by playing fetch with wand toys and directing food operations in the kitchen. Learn more about Sandy at sandyrobinsonline.com.

Editors note: This article appeared in Catster magazine. Have you seen the new Catster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vets office? !

Read more about different types of cats on Catster.com:

How Many Toes Is A Normal Cat Supposed To Have

Cats are normally born with four paws and a total of eighteen toes . Each of the front paws has five toes while each of the hind paws has four toes. The fifth toe of the front paws is known as a dewclaw, and as it is a little bit raised it does not touch the ground but helps to improve balance and climbing abilities.

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Polydactyl Cats: An Amazing Genetic Mutation

Have you ever encountered a cat whose paws look like mittens? If not, you are missing an enchanting experience.

These cats sporting numerous toes are one of the most awesome and fascinating felines albeit their appearance can be somewhat bizarre to folks who have never seen one. In the United States, these supernumerary-toed kitties have often been called mitten cats or Hemingway cats.

Ernest Hemmingway was a passionate cat lover. He was presented with Snowball as a personal gift by a ships captain in 1933. Snowball went on to produce many litters of ploydactyl kittens . As many as 50 of Snowballs ancestors are living the life of luxury today spoiled and pampered by the staff at the Hemingway Home Museum in Key West, Florida.

Polydactyl cats have more than the usual number of toes on one or more of their paws. These kitties are born with an abnormal, dominant genetic mutation called polydactylism. While the polydactyl cats appearance is quite unique, the polydactyl gene is somewhat common.

Normally kittens are born with five toes on their front paws and four in the back. But for the female cat to produce at least one kitten with extra toes, one of the parents must carry the gene that is responsible for polydactylism. However, if both parents carry the gene, this increases the probability that all of their kittens will be polydactyl.

FloridaWild Veterinary Hospital

Polydactyl Cats: The Charm Of Big Feet

SFMS: Cat Toes and Polydactyly

Look at those big feet! This is a polydactyl cat, born with more than the regulation number of toes. Polydactylism can affect any animal with toes, but the genetic anomaly is relatively common in domestic cats, which normally have five toes on the front paws and four toes on their back paws. Photograph by Flickr user Actor212.

Photograph by .

Polydactylism is a genetic mutation that is passed down via a dominant gene. The trait is found most often in western England, Wales, and the eastern parts of the United States and Canada. They are historically sought out as ship’s cats, which explains their prevalence on “both sides of the pond.” We don’t know which side they originated on. However, the mutation can arise spontaneously in any cat population, so all polydactyls are not necessarily related to each other.

Photograph by Flickr user Meredith Leigh Collins.

The condition is usually benign, and cats rarely suffer from having extra toes in and of itself. There is a genetic condition called feline radial hypoplasia in which extra toes are common. Radial hypoplasia causes other birth defects in addition to polydactly, such as underdeveloped or twisted forelegs, which is a genuine disability, and such cats should be neutered to prevent passing on the abnormality. But those cases are in the minority.

Photograph by Flickr user Jessica Feis.

Photograph by Flickr user gillicious.

Liren Chen.

Photograph by Cats Protection.

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Do Maine Coon Cats Have Extra Toes

We as a humans love unique looking animals, from the hairless Sphynx cats to Scottish Folds to the extra-toed Maine Coon.

Do Maine Coons Have Extra Toes? Well, yes and no. It is not a requirement for a cat to have multiple toes to be considered a Maine Coon. Also, extra digits is not a trait solely attributed to just Maine Coon cats, especially if you live in the western hemisphere.

However, it does occurring at a higher percentage in Maine Coons than the general feline population. Read further to understand what it is, why in some countries they are banned from breeding, and how to find one.

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Potential Problems With Polydactyly

For the most part, polydactyly is simply an endearing characteristic. It is considered an anomaly, not a deformity, in cats, and some people feel the extra thumbs are actually opposable, helping their cats to grip their toys. However, there are certain potential issues that may develop with this condition, so toes should be monitored. For this reason, there are ethical questions about intentionally propogating a trait which is rare in nature and may lead to complications without human intervention.

Extra claws are usually situated between and beneath the normal toes, which means the claws are unable to be normally sharpened. This leads to a higher chance of the claws growing into the paw pad and becoming infected. Sometimes the claw can be growing in an outward position, which can lead to snagging and infections. For these reasons, it is critical that the claws be clipped on a regular basis.

If the extra claw is causing repeated problems, it can be surgically removed by your veterinarian.

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The World Record For The Most Toes On A Cat Is 28

The Internet cannot agree on which polydactyl kitty actually has the most toes. According to Guinness Records, the title belongs to Jake, a ginger tabby from Canada. He boasts seven toes on each paw, for a grand total of 28. Each toe has its own claw, pad, and bone structure.

The rumor mill also tells of a 32-toed cat named Mickey Mouse who lived in the 70s. But instead of polydactyly, he might have had a condition known as double paws, in which each paw is actually comprised of two fused mirror-image paws. Having extra toes is complicated!

Maine Coons Were Most Likely To Be Polydactyl Cats

Cat Facts: Why Do So Many Cats Have Extra Toes?

They had huge toes and looked like lions with the most toes, they are none other than Main Coon polydactyl cats. At one point, the polydactyl gene was most common in the Maine Coon breed. In fact, there were over 40% of Maine Coon cats who were polydactyl.

It may sound like a bit unfair that only this beautiful breed had the coolest stuff happen to them. But oh well, they are the largest domesticated cat breed. Eventually, as they were bred with other cat breeds, the polydactyl gene spread over them too. Since then, it has completely changed and not is as common as it used to be Maine Coons.

Maine Coon polydactyl cats are exceptional for feline enthusiasts.

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Polydactyl Cats Are Also Known As Hemingway Cats

When a ship captain gave a white polydactyl cat named Snowball to writer Ernest Hemingway, the captain kicked off a pretty fantastic obsession for one of historys most prolific cat guys. At Hemingways island home off Key West, FL, he collected more than 50 cats, almost half of whom had extra toes. Thanks to his obsession, today polydactyls are frequently called Hemingway cats.

As Catsters Dorian Wagner did, you can visit the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, where the cat colony still thrives and some of the kitties are descendants of Snowball, Hemingways original polydactyl.

Bonus fact: Polydactyl cats are such a big deal that theyve made it all the way to the White House: President Theodore Roosevelt had a six-toed first kitty named Slippers.

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Why So Many Cats With Extra Toes

Polydactyly is a genetic abnormality that causes extra toes to form on one or more paw. Most polydactyl cats have extra toes on their front paws, though some have extras on the back paws, as well.

Its passed down from parent cats through a dominant gene. So even if one cat has a normal amount of toes while the other is polydactyl, 40 to 50 percent of their kittens will have extra toes.

Theres nothing medically wrong with a cat having extra toes, and it doesnt hurt in any way. In fact, they can be quite beneficial.

Some breeds are more likely to have polydactyly the term for this abnormality.

In the past, up to 40 percent of Maine Coons had extra toes a useful trait in the state of Maine, which gets more than 100 inches of snow annually. The extra toes helped Maine Coons paws act like snowshoes so they could walk around outside without falling through the snow as easily.

The reason polydactyl cats are so widespread in certain parts of the world like England, Whales, the eastern United States, and Canada may be because they were prized by sailors as bringers of good luck.

They were often called gypsy cats. Their extra toes made them great mousers and allowed them to stay balanced on rough waters.

Are Polydactyl Cats In Pain

Do You Know These “Extra” Facts About Polydactyl Cats?

While it may seem awkward to have extra toes, they do not harm the cat in any way. That being said, it also doesnt give them any advantages either. In some rare cases, the extra toe and claw may not have formed properly, and due to that, the cat may develop something similar to an ingrown or overgrown claw. If the gene had such negative side effects, it most likely would have died out.

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