Polydactyl cats are, strictly speaking, genetic mutations. Their little paws are the result of their genes going haywire in utero, resulting in paws with too many toes. I have seen several questions regarding polydactyl cats and what, if any, specific health issues are related to it, so I thought it would be a good idea to address the disorder and also talk about the dangers – or in this case, lack of danger – associated with the mutation.
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History of Polydactyl Cats
Extra toes on the paw are a genetic mutation, so the origin of these cats is not known exactly. However, they have been popular for a long, long time. In fact, the general consensus is that this mutation was actually promoted quite vigorously by Bostonian sailors. The sailors believed that in addition to making the cats better climbers and mousers, the extra toes were also a good luck charm. This history of being pampered could be why most polydactyl cats have such excellent personalities. Of course, that is pure conjecture.
Health Considerations for Polydactyl Cats
While extra toes are a genetic mutation, there is no known association of it with any other mutations. Unlike other congenital defects, polydactylism appears to be a stand-alone defect. In fact, these cats have no known complications that other cats normally have other than one – their nails. Because of the extra toes, extra care needs to be taken with the nails. Like all cats, these fuzzballs require regular nail trimmings to keep the nails under control. When left unchecked, the nails can overgrown and actually curl around into the paws. While this could happen with any cat, the extra toes on these guys seem to somehow contribute to the problem.
While not life threatening, the propensity for overgrown nails in polydactyl cats leads many vets to recommend preemptive declawing of these cats to remove the possibility of any problem down the line. Although, some may view declawing as a barbaric procedure, it is actually an excellent solution in this case. When you combine the fact that most cats will fight to the death before allowing their nails to be trimmed with the possibility of painful overgrowth in these cats, it’s often a better course of action to simply remove the problem before it starts.
Polydactyl Cats – The Cutest Mutation Ever
While the extra toes on polydactyl cats is indeed a mutation, it’s not something to worry about outside of being vigilant about their nails. This disorder has thus far never been connected to any other health issues, and all those extra toes are just plain cute. If you have a polydactyl cat or if you’re considering adopting one, don’t be put off by all the toes. Polydactyl cats have no significant health issues related to those extra toes, so there’s no need to worry.