Category Archives: polydactyl cats

If Cats Had Thumbs, Would They Conquer the World?

By Rocky Williams, feline guest blogger

Yesterday I was awakened from a catnap by a loud sound. Naturally curious about this cacophony that had so rudely interrupted my peaceful slumber – I went in search of it. I found the Warden sitting at her computer, cackling loud enough to wake the dead. She was watching a YouTube video of a commercial for Cravendale Milk which posed the question, “What if cats had thumbs?” The commercial features a polydactyl feline named Bertram, a social media ‘celebricat’ famous for plotting world domination with the help of his Facebook and Twitter minions. The ad also features the voice of Rocky Horror Picture Show star Tim Curry, who asks “Why do cats stare when you’re pouring milk?

Cats with opposable thumbs are shown bouncing a ball, filing their nails, doing needlepoint and reading a book. “Imagine that. Cats with thumbs. And what if they got together? Gangs of cats with thumbs! Organized crime, with one thing on their mind,” says the voiceover. The cat gang opens the door and stares at the man eating his cereal. Terrified, he grabs his carton of milk to make a run for it.

Yeah, okay…it was really funny, but I still wasn’t amused that the Warden interrupted my beauty sleep. It did, however, make me think about all the things I’d do if I had thumbs. Top of the list, of course, would be to end the rationing of my FELIDAE cat food. Yep. I would get that bag of kibble down from the cupboard straight away. Feeding frenzy for all! The TidNips treats would flow freely, too. But I wouldn’t stop there. I love all food, and if I had thumbs I would raid the fridge and pantry every day. The Warden uses her microwave oven as a bread drawer, to stop me from carbo loading in the dark of night…but if I had thumbs, the bread buffet would be open 24/7.

If I had thumbs, no more ‘indoor life’ for me! Out I would go, as I pleased, to snoopervise the neighborhood and visit that cute ladycat down the block. If I had thumbs, I would watch Animal Planet on the Telly all day long. And in the middle of the night, I’d give the Warden a fright – I’d crank up the volume so she wakes up thinking there’s an introoder in the house. Hee hee! No, tis’ only me, watching Jackson Galaxy whip unruly felines into shape on My Cat From Hell.

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All About Polydactyl Cats

By Julia Williams

Polydactyl cats are not a specific breed, but they do have a unique characteristic that is immediately noticeable – extra toes! These extra toes make their paws look gigantic, rather like they are wearing mittens, hence the nicknames “mitten cat” and “mitten foot cat.” Another nickname is “thumb cats,” because some polydactyl cats have separated toe clusters which make them appear to have a thumb on their paw. The term polydactyl is of Greek origin and comes from poly- (many) + daktylos (fingers or toes).

Most domestic cats have 18 toes: five on both front paws and four on each hind paw. Polydactyl cats, however, are born with extra toes as a result of a genetic mutation. Polydactyls typically have one or two extra toes on their front paws. Although a polydactyl cat can have up to seven extra toes on either the front or hind paws, it’s more common for the extra toes to be on the front paws only. It’s rare for a polydactyl cat to have extra toes on their hind paws only, and rarer still to have extra toes on all four paws.

The Polydactyl Gene

The extra toes on a polydactyl cat are the result of a mutant gene (Pd) that is dominant. This means that if one cat parent has extra toes, there’s a high probability that some of the offspring will be polydactyl too. If both parents have extra toes, this further increases the likelihood that they’ll produce polydactyl kittens.

The polydactyl anomaly is found in many other animals besides cats, including humans, dogs, chickens, horses, mice and guinea pigs. Domestic cats of all breeds and colors can have extra toes, though polydactyly is most common in Maine Coon cats. Presently, the standards for all CFA recognized breeds disqualify a pedigreed cat with extra toes, and responsible breeders won’t breed a cat known to carry the Pd gene.

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