Monday 14 November 2011

Cats with Extra Toes

Cats with extra toes are called "polydactyl cats". "Poly" means more than one or many. The origin of this prefix is the Ancient Greek word "polus" meaning many. While "daktulos" is the origin of "dactyl", which means a finger or a toe. I guess that is obvious but I think it is worth spelling out. For veterinarians, polydactyl cats are considered as cats with an inherited orthopedic disease. The extra toes are a congenital deformity. This sounds bad but we see polydactylism as something interesting as there are no associated health problems and it is quite common in domestic cats. People occasionally have the same condition.

Polydactyl cat - Photo by panic switch 13

The normal number of toes for a cat is: 5 on the forepaws and 4 on the hind paws. Extra toes normally occur on the front paws but the defect can affect both rear and front paws.

Although a benign condition the extra toes might not get the usual amount of usage and wear leading to the claws growing into the pads. The claws should be checked and trimmed if necessary. Cat breeders consider polydactylism a defect and don't breed from a polydactyl cat unless they are breeding polydactyl cats. Is this sensible?

Associated pages: Tootsie a polydactyl Maine Coon and American Polydactyl Cat (Hemingway cats).

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