With extra toes on their feet American Polydactyls are unique cats. 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.
The 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.
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The author is a blogger about cats and an expert on American Polydactyl cat.
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