Newsday Tuesday – Cats With Too Many Toes and Claw Issues

Have you ever seen a cat with extra toes? It’s a seemingly weird phenomenon called polydactyl. According to an article at the Catster website, polydactyls are not all that uncommon. I guess most of us have seen or known a cat with six or more toes on a paw. Most commonly you’ll see the extra toes on the front paws, but they can also occur on the back paws.

Sometimes these cats are known as Hemmingway cats. Evidently, a sea captain gave author, Ernest Hemmingway a polydactyl cat and he developed an obsession for cats with extra toes. In fact of the fifty cats still at his Key West, Florida estate, most of them are polydactyls. Why did the sea captain have a polydactyl cat? Because of a superstition. It was once thought that polydactyl cats brought good luck at sea.

Here’s an interesting fact, Maine coon cats often have extra toes and it’s thought this is because they originated in Maine and needed the wider foot to make their way through the snow. Here’s a site with more information and some adorable pictures of polydactyl cats.

Some think the paws of a polydactyl cat look like the cat’s wearing mittens. If you have a polydactyl cat, you may have noticed that the dew claw of these cats might tend to curl around and go back into the paw pad. However, we have normal-pawed cats that this happens to. So I know this isn’t unique to the polydactyl cats. In fact, today, I urge you to check your cats’ claws to make sure they are not growing out of control.

Do you trim your cat’s claws? If she’s an inside-only cat, you’re probably going to want to snip those needle-sharp tips off of her claws from time to time. It’s important to keep an eye on a cat’s claws to make sure there aren’t issues, such as a thickening of the claw, a broken or torn claw, or that the claw isn’t curled around and growing into the pad. OUCH! Here’s a site that shows how to trim your cat’s claws. If you can’t manage, take her to your veterinarian. They have a way with cats who can outsmart their owners.

Do you sometimes find what look like your cat’s claws around the house? It’s okay. She didn’t lose a claw, she simply shed the outer layer of the claw. This is normal. So be sure to provide one or more scratching posts or pads for your cats. They need to use their claws in order to help shed those claw sheaths.

It may take time to choose the right scratching material for your cat. In our home, we have a carpeted cat tree that our cats love to shred. They also use a cardboard scratch pad and we inherited a large wooden cat tree that they enjoy climbing, hanging out on, and clawing. Does this keep them from clawing the furniture? Wellllll, I believe it certainly cuts down on their tendency to shred our belongings.

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