Types of Polydactyly in Cats and Is It Normal to Have 6 and More Toes for Cats
What do you call a cat with 6 toes? It can be called polydactyl or Hemingway cats. According to reports from scientists and breeders, this feature has recently ceased to be a rarity in the United States. They were first introduced to the territory of countries in the 20th century. Surely you have hundreds of questions about the characteristics of cats with this mutation. Below you will find answers to most or possibly all of them.
What Is a Polydactyl Cat, and What Does It Mean?
In general, this term means many toes. As you can already understand, such a genetic feature can be not only in humans but also in cats. Usually, we are talking about 6 toes, but there have been cases when cats were born with 7 toes on their front paws. The Maine Coon breed has the most predisposition to the polydactyly gene than others. How is Hemingway related to these cats? In 1930, he was presented with a representative of this unique genetic mutation, and his estate is still considered the home for the descendants of his cat. What does polydactyl mean in cats? Despite the fact that this is a genetic mutation, many breeders try to breed cats with this inheritance. However, opinions on the correctness of such breeding were divided due to medical nuances in polydactyl cats, but we would discuss health issues a little later. Boston is considered the city with the largest population of such cats in the United States, and is considered the descendants of the sailors.
Interesting fact! Sailors still believe that polydactyl cats and their behavior bring good luck, and 6 or more toes help to catch mice on ships more efficiently.
Why Do Cats Have Extra Toes?
Polydactyly in cats is an autosomal dominant inheritance process, which means that if one parent has this trait, then at least half of the offspring would inherit this dominant gene at birth. This abnormality can sometimes be confused with a symptom of other genetic diseases that lead to curvature of the limbs.
Interesting fact! The ginger cat Jack from Canada was included in the Guinness Book of Records as the representative of the feline with the largest number of toes (28 – 7 on each paw). Each of its toes has a bone structure, pads, and claws. However, according to the surviving records, it is known that in the 70s of the last century there lived a cat with 32 fingers with fused claws.
Types of Polydactyl Cats
Six-toed cat breeds are divided into two types:
- Preaxial – the extra digit grows before the dewclaw;
- Postaxial – extra digit grows after the fourth toes.
Additional toes are always different in structure and can only consist of soft ones, which can cause frequent injuries. Also, the nail bed can grow together at birth and bring pain to the animal due to uneven growth. The two existing types have the same symptoms:
- Uneven growth and proliferation of nails;
- Painful sensations;
- Frequent injuries;
- Predisposition to infections.
Are Polydactyl Cats Rare?
According to a study last year, this gene mutation is most common in the United States and the United Kingdom due to transatlantic ports and the predominance of such cats on cargo ships. This mutation also affects other animals – dogs, guinea pigs, chickens, etc. It is also one of the most common congenital deformities in humans and is usually treated by removing extra fingers or toes in early childhood, but if it does not cause any harm, deletion is optional.
What Other Facts Should I Know If My Cat Has Extra Toes?
Aside from the unique qualities of extra toes, these special cats have other notable traits that many people like.
- The toes make them the best athletes. From catching to climbing and hunting, some of these cats benefit from their extra toes. In some cases, they maintain their balance better on certain surfaces and use their wide claws to roll in the snow.
- In many parts of the world, they are considered lucky. Since they are considered better mousetraps than non-idyllic cats, they are considered a boon to many families and farms. This kind of thinking is still widespread in the UK, Wales, Canada, and the US East Coast.
- Maine Coon fans love them very much. Over the course of several generations, 40% of this breed of cats have had these extra toes. Since then, this percentage has given way to the genetic characteristics of the wider paws, without additional numbers. However, lovers of this breed began to seek and cherish this special multi-finger quality in their beloved pets.
- They have many Facebook fan pages dedicated to them.
Do Polydactyl Cats Have Health Problems?
Polydactyl cats usually do not have health problems, and their genetic mutations do not affect lifespan. However, don’t forget the claws should be regularly trimmed and problems may arise with this. You must be as careful as possible to avoid ingrown nails. This genetic trait is diagnosed by a veterinarian on examination and would also determine whether your pet needs treatment or not. If a breeder independently selects males and females for mating and obtaining offspring with favorable characteristics, then the mutation in the offspring usually does not need treatment. However, it can also cause lameness, infection, and spread to other parts of the body, leading to heart complications requiring euthanasia. In small cases, the extra fingers are usually surgically removed to avoid injury and future health problems. So, how many toes does a normal cat have? It usually has 5 toes.
Do not panic if you find 6 toes on your cat’s paws, and consult your veterinarian. A specialist would be able to determine if this is really the problem in your case. However, most owners of cats with such a feature do not complain in any way and, on the contrary, they want just such a pet!
- If you would be a cat you would say Meow* (happy sound)
- If you would be a cat you would say HRR* (angry sound)