Thursday, July 3, 2008

American Polydactyl

PolydactylAmerican Polydactyls are cats with extra toes on their feet. The additional toes can either be on only the front or the hind paws or on all four paws. They are more common on front paws though and may range anywhere between four to seven in their number. This condition is owing to a genetic mutation and is seen more as a trait than a distinct breed. Indeed many cat fanciers are reluctant to grant them registration and individual status. Nevertheless many breeders continue to develop these cats for their appearance and attributes. It is said that they were brought to United States couple of centuries ago on ships from Europe, with sailors treasuring them for their extraordinary mousing skills and supposed good luck affiliation.

Polydactyly may be seen in any cat breed and is perhaps commonest in Maine Coons. The cats with extra toes are called mitten cats, thumb cats or at times Hemingway cats - owing to the great love and passion that the famous writer had for these felines. The polydactyl cats that are specifically bred for this trait have medium sized muscular bodies. Head is broad with wide set pointed ears and slightly slanted round eyes. They may occur in any color as does the close-lying fur. At times the tail may be short and resemble that of a Bobtail cat.

Though American Polydactyls are generally healthy and perfectly normal, there are some health concerns, with some polydactyl variants having bony anomalies that may lead to degrees of disablement. Sometimes the cats have difficulty in learning how to walk and move about early on though they are able to adapt with age. The additional toes may be fused with the remaining ones or may appear as a separate offshoot of a couple of toes.

PolydactylThe added toes may be advantageous too. They enable the cat to grasp and manoeuvre objects better and may be the reason behind the felid's good hunting ability. Some people report the American Polydactyls to be gentler and possessive of a sweeter personality than normal cats. They are also known to be very adaptable and capable of adjusting to a variety of environments and habitats. Outgoing and active, the cute cats are also quite accommodating and tolerate other pets and children well. Though they require some extra care for their toes, these adorable cats are much loved by their owners who fancy their unique appearance.

Images © Warren Photographic -


Anonymous said...

My polydactyl cat, Memnoch the Devil, couldn't be further from the truth about being gentler, sweeter or accommodating. He doesn't have extra toes, well, maybe the ones on the hind feet but in the front, he actually has an entire extra paw on each paw. We call him the six-footed cat. He is totally black with slanted yellow eyes and his coat is short. He is an incredible mouse catcher, proving it one night by catching 3 mice within the hour from my kitchen. He has tried many times to bring in mice, gophers, lizards, birds, whatever he's caught into the house. He weighs in at 20 lbs. When he turned 10 yrs. of age, he developed diabetes and now tolerates 2 injections daily. All the vet techs where he goes for his diabetic curve once a month are terrified of him. He can be quite mean, he yowls and snarls and tries to attack them. There are 14 claws to contend with. Memmie is very devoted to our pit bull/boxer mix, Mary, as she breastfed him to adulthood. I've never had a cat quite like him in my lifetime. He's my baby and I love him very much.

Anonymous said...

I have a young "mitten" cat and she is absolutely the sweetest most gentle cat I have every had. Her front paws look just like white mittens and she can grab anything.

Anonymous said...

My poly Six is sweet to people but will simply not tolerate other animals, feline or canine. Good at opening doors though and can catch grasshoppers on the fly with one paw!

Dreaming Banshee said...

I just got a thumb cat. He is still new and I am visiting him in my bedroom. He likes to be petted but he hisses and wants to be rubbed at the same time. He's coming around. He is my second thumb cat. My first one, Kitty was the softest sweetest cat ever. She didn't look anything like the boy cat I have now. He's grey and white short haired with a big pink nose. She was beige and looked like a ragdoll.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love my Hemingway or Hemi as we lovingly call him. He has seven toes on the front and five on the back. I rescued him from the Irvine animal shelter. Gorgeous cat very patient and just a total sweetheart

kareemfrancis said...

Lol...sounds like my Mitts...she's all black, slanted yellow eyes with 3 extra claws on both her fronts...real Freddy Kruger like..and she's mean as the devil...we get along great....she dieseem to like anyone else lol

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