Polydactyl cats, or cats with extra toes, are a fascinating and unique breed of felines that have captured the attention of cat lovers and researchers alike. With their striking appearance and distinctive characteristics, polydactyl cats have a rich history and have played a significant role in both literature and genetics research. In this article, we will explore the stunning beauty of these extra-toed cats, their origins, characteristics, and health needs, as well as their popularity as pets. So sit back, relax, and prepare to be amazed by the incredible world of polydactyl cats.
Polydactyl cats are a unique and fascinating breed that have captured the hearts of many cat lovers. With their extra toes and charming personalities, these cats are a stunning sight to behold. In this article, we will dive into the world of polydactyl cats, exploring their origins, characteristics, and how they have become a beloved part of pop culture.
What is a Polydactyl Cat?
The polydactyl cat is a domestic cat with a congenital physical anomaly called polydactyly, which causes the cat to have more than the usual number of toes on one or more of its paws. The word “polydactyly” is derived from two Greek words meaning “many fingers”. This type of mammal stands apart from the rest with their fabulous set of paws and the stunning beauty they represent.
The uniqueness of polydactyl cats lies in their special toes. It is typical for cats to have 18 toes spread across four feet whereas they can have as many as 28 toes. This breed of cats is characterized by boldness and agility. Furthermore, according to some sources, these cats also tend to be friendlier and more intelligent than other cats.
Polydactyl cats have a fascinating history. It is believed that Christopher Columbus brought the mutation to North America during his travels. From there, it spread all over the world. Ernest Hemingway is believed to have been the first to coin the term “Hemingway cat” to describe these cats as he was a big fan of this breed.
Different Types of Polydactyl Cats
There are two types of polydactyly: true polydactyly and hemiant Feet with six toes are considered true polydactyls, while those with five toes are hemiant polydactyls. Cats with true polydactyly have an extra toe on each paw, while cats with hemiant polydactyly have an extra toe on only one paw.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Having Extra Toes
Having extra toes, a genetic mutation also known as polydactylism, can have advantages and disadvantages in felines.
Improved Balance and Coordination
Polydactyl cats have a wider base of support, which gives them better balance and coordination. This is especially beneficial for cats who enjoy climbing or jumping.
Greater Dexterity in Hunting and Playing
With their extra toes, polydactyl cats have greater dexterity in their paws, allowing them to better catch prey or play with toys. In fact, they are often sought after for their hunting abilities.
Increased Risk of Joint and Mobility Problems
Having extra toes can sometimes cause joint and mobility problems, especially as a cat ages. This is because the extra toes can cause the foot to twist or turn, leading to discomfort or difficulty in walking.
Difficulty in Finding Proper Fitting Shoes
Finding proper fitting shoes for a polydactyl cat can be a challenge. Most cat shoes are designed for cats with the usual number of toes, so finding shoes that fit it’s unique foot shape can be difficult.
Popular Cat Breeds that can be Polydactyl
Some popular cat breeds that can exhibit polydactyly are
The Maine Coon is one of the most popular cat breeds that can be polydactyl. These cats are known for their large size, long fur, and friendly personalities. Maine Coons were originally bred as working cats in the Northeastern United States, and their extra toes may have helped them hunt and navigate through snowy terrain.
The American Bobtail is another breed that may be polydactyl. These cats have a distinctive short tail and a wild appearance. American Bobtails are known for their intelligence and playfulness, and they make great companions for families.
Norwegian Forest Cat
The Norwegian Forest Cat is a breed that originated in Norway and is known for its thick, fluffy fur and large size. These cats are intelligent and independent, but they also love to cuddle with their owners. Some Norwegian Forest Cats may be polydactyl, which only adds to their unique appearance.
The British Shorthair is a popular breed in the UK known for its round face and plush fur. These cats are gentle and easygoing, and they make great pets for families. While not all British Shorthairs are polydactyl, some may have extra toes, which only adds to their charming personalities.
The Savannah Cat is a hybrid breed that is a cross between a domestic cat and a serval, a wild African cat. These cats are known for their striking appearance and their high energy levels. While not all Savannah Cats are polydactyl, some may have extra toes, which can help them climb and run with even more agility.
Polydactylism is a dominant trait, which is caused by the Pd gene.So, other cat breeds can also be polydactyl.
Health Concerns Associated with Polydactyl Cats
This anatomical difference of having extra toes may seem harmless, it can lead to a number of health concerns for these cats.
Common Health Concerns
Polydactyl cats are generally healthy and do not have any particular health concerns associated with their extra toes. However, they can be prone to certain conditions, such as obesity and arthritis, especially as they age. This is because the extra weight on their paws can put extra strain on their joints.
Inherited Health Issues to Watch Out For
Some breeds that commonly have polydactylism are also prone to inherited health issues, such as hip dysplasia, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and feline distal neuropathy. It is important to research the breed of your polydactyl cat and become aware of any potential health concerns.
The Importance of Early Detection and Treatment
As with any cat, early detection and treatment of health issues is important for maintaining your polydactyl cat’s health. Regular check-ups with your vet can help catch any potential health problems early on and ensure prompt treatment.
Regular check-ups with your vet are crucial for maintaining your polydactyl cat’s health. Your vet can monitor your cat’s weight, check for any potential health issues, and provide vaccinations and preventative care.
Polydactyl cats should receive the same vaccinations and preventative care as any other cat. This includes vaccinations for rabies, feline distemper, and other common feline diseases, as well as regular flea and tick prevention.
Monitoring Weight and Overall Health
It is important to monitor your polydactyl cat’s weight and overall health. As mentioned earlier, they can be prone to obesity and arthritis, so maintaining a healthy weight through proper diet and exercise is important for their overall health and well-being.
Healthy Diet and Exercise
A healthy diet and exercise is essential for maintaining your polydactyl cat’s health. Choose a high-quality cat food that is appropriate for your cat’s age and weight. Avoid overfeeding and provide plenty of fresh water.
Choosing the Right Food
When choosing cat food, look for options that are high in protein and low in carbohydrates. Avoid foods that contain fillers, artificial preservatives, and other unhealthy ingredients. Consider consulting with your vet to determine the best diet for your polydactyl cat.
The Benefits of Regular Exercise
Regular exercise is important for maintaining your polydactyl cat’s health and preventing obesity and arthritis. Provide plenty of opportunities for play and encourage your cat to engage in physical activity, such as climbing or running. A cat tree or scratching post can provide a great workout for your feline friend.
Grooming and Hygiene
Proper grooming and hygiene are critical for the overall health and well-being of polydactyl cats, as they require extra attention due to their unique anatomy.
Polydactyl cats have extra digits which can make grooming more challenging. Regular grooming is essential to prevent matting, hairballs and skin irritations. Brush your polydactyl cat daily to remove tangles, loose hair, and debris. Use a metal comb and a soft-bristled brush to ensure that no tangles or mats are left behind. Be gentle when brushing around your cat’s extra toes.
Oral hygiene is also important for maintaining the health of your polydactyl cat. Dental problems can lead to serious health problems. Brushing your cat’s teeth daily or several times a week can help prevent dental issues. If you can’t brush your cat’s teeth, try using dental chews, dental water additives or dental wipes.
Managing Skin and Coat Issues
Polydactyl cats may have more folds on their feet, which can trap dirt and bacteria. To prevent infection and skin irritations, wash your cat’s feet regularly with warm water and mild soap. Pay attention to any changes in your cat’s skin or coat, such as rashes, bald patches, or excessive itching. These may be signs of allergies, flea infestations, or other health problems.
As with any cat breed, safety precautions must be taken when caring for polydactyl cats. These cats possess extra toes on their paws in comparison to standard felines, and this can lead to complications if not appropriately managed.
Indoor Safety Precautions
Indoor safety is important for your polydactyl cat’s well-being. Be sure to keep dangerous objects and chemicals out of reach, keep electrical cords secured, and ensure that your cat cannot access high areas where they may fall or get stuck. Provide your cat with plenty of toys to keep them active and engaged.
Outdoor Safety Precautions
Outdoor safety is also important for your polydactyl cat. If you allow your cat to go outside, make sure to provide them with a safe and secure outdoor space. Ensure that your cat is wearing a collar with identification tags, and make sure that they are up to date on their vaccinations.
How to Identify and Avoid Common Household Hazards
Some common household hazards for cats include poisonous plants, human medications, and chemicals. Be sure to keep these items out of your cat’s reach, and ensure that any houseplants are safe for pets. Keep human medications in a safe and secure location.
When to Seek Veterinary Care
If your polydactyl cat is exhibiting any of the following symptoms, seek immediate veterinary care:
- Difficulty breathing
- Sudden lethargy or loss of appetite
- Severe vomiting or diarrhea
- Seizures or convulsions
- Excessive thirst or urination
- Bleeding or open wounds
When to Schedule a Vet Appointment
In addition to emergencies, it’s important to schedule regular veterinary check-ups for your polydactyl cat. These check-ups can help identify and prevent health problems before they become serious.
Emergency Care and After-Hours Veterinary Services
It’s important to know where to go in case of an emergency. Keep a list of emergency veterinary clinics and after-hours services in your area on hand, just in case.
The Polydactyl cat is a stunning beauty boasting an extra set of toes on its paws. This genetic mutation is not rare and can occur in any feline breed. While some may view it as a deformity, others see the extra digits as an added feature that enhances the cat’s unique charm. Aside from their physical appearance, polydactyl cats have also been recognized to possess exceptional hunting abilities with their enhanced grip and dexterity.
Furthermore, they make great companions with their playful and friendly demeanor. Despite their popularity, polydactyl cats are not typically allowed to participate in cat shows due to standard regulations requiring them to have only five toes on each paw. In conclusion, these unusual-looking cats are truly remarkable creatures that deserve recognition and admiration for their beauty and usefulness alike.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
If you’re considering adopting a polydactyl cat, you probably have a lot of questions about this unique feline’s care and needs. Exploring the answers to some frequently asked questions about polydactyl cats can help you decide if one of these remarkable cats is right for your household.
What is the average size of a polydactyl cat?
Polydactyl cats usually grow to a standard adult size of around 10-15 pounds when fully grown. There may be variations in size based on breed and genetics.
Can polydactyl cats be found in shelters?
Yes, they can be found in shelters just like any other domestic cat breed. In fact, some shelters may have a higher number of polydactyl cats since they are more common in certain regions of the world.
Is it ethical to breed polydactyl cats?
There is no clear consensus on whether breeding polydactyl cats is ethical or not. Some breeders argue that it is a harmless genetic trait that adds to the uniqueness of the breed, while others argue that it can lead to health problems and should not be encouraged.
Can extra toes on polydactyl cats be removed?
Yes, it is possible to remove the extra toes on polydactyl cats through a surgical procedure. However, it is important to note that this procedure is controversial and should only be done for medical reasons or if it is deemed necessary by a veterinarian.
Are polydactyl cats more expensive than regular cats?
The cost of a polydactyl cat can vary depending on the breed, location, and the number of extra toes they have. However, in general, they are not more expensive than regular cats. In fact, some shelters may even offer them at a lower adoption fee than other breeds.
Are polydactyl cats rare?
Polydactyl cats are relatively rare, making up a small percentage of the overall cat population. However, they are more common in certain regions, such as the East Coast of the United States and England.
Are polydactyl cats prone to health issues?
Polydactyl cats are generally just as healthy as any other breed of cat. However, they may be more prone to certain health issues, such as hip dysplasia and extra claw problems, due to their unique anatomy. It’s important to be aware of these potential health concerns and work closely with your veterinarian to keep your polydactyl cat healthy.
Can polydactyl cats be shown in cat shows?
Yes, they can be shown in cat shows, but it depends on the specific guidelines of each show. Some shows may have restrictions on the number of toes a cat can have, while others may have specific categories for polydactyl cats.
Are polydactyl cats more intelligent than regular cats?
There is no scientific evidence to suggest that polydactyl cats are more intelligent than regular cats. However, they are known for their dexterity and agility, which may make them more adept at certain tasks, such as catching mice or playing with toys.
Is it safe to declaw a polydactyl cat?
Declawing a polydactyl cat is generally not recommended. Because polydactyl cats have extra toes, declawing can be more challenging and painful for them than it would be for a regular cat. Furthermore, declawing can lead to long-term health problems and behavioral issues. Instead of declawing, it’s best to work with your cat to manage unwanted scratching behaviors with training and environmental modifications.
Can I adopt a polydactyl cat if I have other pets?
Yes, you can adopt a polydactyl cat if you have other pets, but it’s important to introduce them slowly and carefully. They are no different than any other cats when it comes to socialization and introductions. You should always supervise initial interactions and provide separate spaces for each of your pets until they have had time to adjust to one another.
Can a polydactyl cat live a long and healthy life?
Yes! With proper care and attention, polydactyl cats can live long and healthy lives. It’s important to work closely with your veterinarian to keep your cat healthy and happy throughout their life. This includes regular check-ups, preventative care, and prompt veterinary attention when necessary.
Is owning a polydactyl cat more challenging than other cats?
No, owning a polydactyl cat is no more difficult than owning any other breed or type of cat. With the right care and attention, polydactyls can live happy, healthy lives.