My Cat Has Eight Sets Of Claws!!!
Updated: Jan 26
Some Amazing Facts About Polydactyl Cats:
We all love to play with our kitten and their tiny little paws. Thats how this blog begins, you see our little guy Oliver, (our cat) was a rescue. Not just a rescue but one that would come with alot of new responsibilities. As he began to grow my wife and I began to notice his walking had changed, then he stopped jumping up to see us, and would cry for us to pick him up instead. We would later discover he had a condition called polydactyl. It means those who are born with more than the usual number of toes on their paws, the extra toes just add to their cuteness if you ask me. While most cats have five toes on their front paws and four toes on their back paws, polydactyl cats can have six or more on each paw. Now Oliver had extra claws which wasn't to much of a worry, our concern was due to the position of his second set, they would grow like a crab claws and became painful for him to walk, jump and impossible for the poor guy to climb or defend himself.
We set out to find the best Vet we could in our area, and were lucky enough to come across
Carrington Animal Hospital, and Dr. Grellan O'Reilly.
He treated Oliver like a valued family member not just a cat, Being the owner of five cats himself, and we love him for that, he is truly a great Doctor. and he taught us a lot that helped us cope and care for Oliver. He Explained Polydactyly was a genetic abnormality that results in extra digits, is more common in certain parts of the world, it can affect any breed of cat, male or female, big or small. The front paws are most often affected by polydactyly, but it can also occur on the hind paws; it’s extremely rare for a cat to have it on all four paws. Leave it to Oliver to be a stand out because as Dr. Grellan O'Reilly would share with us, in his thirty years he had seen a few cases but he had never come across a cat like Oliver who has the condition on all four paws.
We hope to share some of what we learned and some cool facts we found with you in this post, after all Oliver is the insperation behind our Website, Blog and YouTube channel, And we would like to help anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation. So here are some crazy Facts About Polydactyl Cats.
What Is a Polydactyl Cat?
Polydactyl cats are not Any specific breed of cat, because any breed of cat and can be born with polydactyly. Polydactyl cats are simply stated, cats who share the physical or genetic trait of having extra toes. The Maine Coon breed is thought to have been the first breed who developed extra toes, and it's often seen in the breed to this day. Polydactyl cats are most commonly found in England, Canada, Wales, and the Eastern United States. and the reason for this is because of their days on trans-continental ships. Like many kinds of cats (black cats and calico cats included) that were believed to bring good luck to sailors, polydactyl cats are no exception. Back in the day, polydactyl cats were a common sight on long journeys by ship. Sailors loved these large cats with extra toes because it make them more sturdy aboard a rocking ship. With the help of their large, wide paws, polydactyl cats made excellent mousers and could keep the ship’s supplies vermin-free.
Did you know Ernest Hemingway had a love for Polydactyl Cats, thats right.
We have all heard of or read at least one of Ernest Hemingway's books, and while he's known as a great writer, What you may you may not remember is he even won a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. Less known His home in Key West, Florida, where he wrote some of his greatest books, is now a museum that houses the descendants of Ernest Hemingway's first polydactyl cat, Snow White, as well as other cats with extra little toes.
Like we said earlier Polydactyl cats were thought of as good luck by sailors, and Snow White was one of those cats. He was given to Hemingway by a ship's captain in the 1930's, reports claim.
Many polydactyl cats today have made a home at the Hemingway House. Since the writer's passing in 1961,the house has been a museum. Now it is left to the staff to continue to care for the cats, the home, and the gardens. Wondering if the cats are related to Snow White well Not all of the cats that live at the Hemingway House are direct descendants of Snow White, but all of them are polydactyl cats. Because of his prevalence of polydactyl cats these extra digit cats are still to this day referred to as Hemingway cats.
Can Extra Toes Cause Problems in Cats?
You may never experience an issue with their extra toes, but occasionally problems can come up due to the location or unknown presence of these extra toes. Some are hidden by fur and the nails and these hidden toes may grow into the paw pads. If the nails aren't in a physical location on the foot to be naturally worn down like other nails, they may become ingrown. Ingrown nails are painful, will cause the paws to become swollen, and will become infected if not addressed and trimmed like the rest of the toenails. But be careful extra toe nails should be trimmed in a certain way to avoid unnesesarry pain to you cat (Talk To Your Vet).
For the most part, polydactyly is harmless to a cat’s health and wellness. It can make trimming your cat’s nails a bit more labor-intensive—and if you’ve ever trimmed your cat’s nails, you should know how difficult that can be to begin with—but otherwise, there are plenty of happy, healthy beautiful kitties with this condition.
Occasionally polydactyl cats will get the extra digits stuck in blankets or caught in carpet, but really being a polydactyly does not cause to many issues for cats. Although If you are looking to show a polydactyl cat in a conformation competition, it may not place well. According to The International Cat Association, extra toes are not considered to be part of an acceptable breed with exception for the Pixie Bob.
What do they know Oliver is one of the smartest breeds I have ever seen, and will get into my reasons for saying that in a future blog post.
The Condition Was Very Common Among Maine Coon Cats, Because Maine coon cats originated in Maine’s cold snowy and harsh conditions, they’ve evolved to have large, insulated paws that serve as little built-in snow shoes. And, lucky for Maine coons Polydactyly gave them larger and wider paws with more insulation to move around easier in the snowy climate.
Now days, polydactyly has been mostly bred out of many Maine coon cats, but the breed polydactyl Maine coon is still sought after by some cat lovers.
So to all of our readers if you find yourself in a similar situation, don't worry there are a lot of resources out there to help, and veternarians know a great deal more than they used to. Even if your cat has a severe case and requires surgery which is rare, you can rest asured your pet is in good hands.
After all he/she has you in their corner to protect, love and care for them.