1
Polydactyl Cats - A Lion in Your Living Room Tale
Polydactyl Cats - A Lion in Your Living Room Tale
DATE: 2014/12/19::
2
Polydactyl Cat And Kitten
Polydactyl Cat And Kitten
DATE: 2009/07/07::
3
My mutant polydactyl cat playing with a pencil
My mutant polydactyl cat playing with a pencil
DATE: 2014/05/09::
4
Interest Story on Hemingway Cats
Interest Story on Hemingway Cats
DATE: 2008/06/13::
5
SixKiller Sam the Beast the polydactyl cat
SixKiller Sam the Beast the polydactyl cat
DATE: 2009/01/03::
6
Polydactyl cat Ernie flexing his
Polydactyl cat Ernie flexing his 'hands'
DATE: 2013/11/12::
7
A Polydactyl Cat Show Her Toes
A Polydactyl Cat Show Her Toes
DATE: 2012/10/15::
8
Xander the polydactyl cat doing tricks
Xander the polydactyl cat doing tricks
DATE: 2012/02/01::
9
Zoey
Zoey's toes in action - Polydactyl cat playing
DATE: 2010/06/29::
10
Polydactyl Cat Plays with Petmate Crazy Circle - ラグドール - Floppycats
Polydactyl Cat Plays with Petmate Crazy Circle - ラグドール - Floppycats
DATE: 2011/03/12::
11
My polydactyl Cat Henry
My polydactyl Cat Henry's extra toe
DATE: 2007/06/03::
12
Polydactyl cats-"Ships Cat"-Family meal-social bonding
Polydactyl cats-"Ships Cat"-Family meal-social bonding
DATE: 2010/01/13::
13
Polydactyl Cat Plays with the Bergan Turbo Track - ラグドール - Floppycats
Polydactyl Cat Plays with the Bergan Turbo Track - ラグドール - Floppycats
DATE: 2011/11/20::
14
Pure White Odd-eyed Polydactyl Cat
Pure White Odd-eyed Polydactyl Cat
DATE: 2012/03/28::
15
Polydactyl Cat Swats Petmate Booda® Balancing Ball - ラグドール - Floppycats
Polydactyl Cat Swats Petmate Booda® Balancing Ball - ラグドール - Floppycats
DATE: 2011/07/10::
16
Polydactyl Cat Loves His Neko Flies Cat Wand Toy - ラグドール - Floppycats
Polydactyl Cat Loves His Neko Flies Cat Wand Toy - ラグドール - Floppycats
DATE: 2012/01/06::
17
SPOOK R.I.P. 7 TOED POLYDACTYL CAT
SPOOK R.I.P. 7 TOED POLYDACTYL CAT
DATE: 2013/03/05::
18
Greta the Polydactyl Cat
Greta the Polydactyl Cat
DATE: 2015/03/19::
19
CATS 101 - Pixie-Bob [ENG]
CATS 101 - Pixie-Bob [ENG]
DATE: 2014/09/20::
20
Beautiful red polydactyl cat - The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
Beautiful red polydactyl cat - The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
DATE: 2010/02/15::
21
A Meowing Polydactyl Cat
A Meowing Polydactyl Cat
DATE: 2008/02/26::
22
Maine Coon Cat Video - Maine Coon Curiosities - Polydactyl Maine Coons
Maine Coon Cat Video - Maine Coon Curiosities - Polydactyl Maine Coons
DATE: 2014/10/29::
23
Polydactyl Cat
Polydactyl Cat
DATE: 2013/05/06::
24
Dr. Tredecimal Spaceman the polydactyl cat
Dr. Tredecimal Spaceman the polydactyl cat
DATE: 2008/11/11::
25
Hemingway Polydactyl Cat - Dyson
Hemingway Polydactyl Cat - Dyson
DATE: 2008/02/03::
26
Frankie Six Toed Polydactyl Cat Gives the High Five Or High Six
Frankie Six Toed Polydactyl Cat Gives the High Five Or High Six
DATE: 2012/09/04::
27
Purring Polydactyl Cat
Purring Polydactyl Cat
DATE: 2010/12/01::
28
Polydactyl Cat Nursing Her 5 Month Old Kittens
Polydactyl Cat Nursing Her 5 Month Old Kittens
DATE: 2014/05/30::
29
Polydactyl cat kneads blanket
Polydactyl cat kneads blanket
DATE: 2010/01/31::
30
Polydactyl Cat playing catch ~ polydactyl paws ~ Taz
Polydactyl Cat playing catch ~ polydactyl paws ~ Taz
DATE: 2014/05/16::
31
Amazing Cat Gives Thumbs Up
Amazing Cat Gives Thumbs Up
DATE: 2011/02/23::
32
Frank the Fangy Polydactyl Cat
Frank the Fangy Polydactyl Cat
DATE: 2013/03/02::
33
American Polydactyl Cat | Cat Breeds 101
American Polydactyl Cat | Cat Breeds 101
DATE: 2014/03/07::
34
Edward Scissorhands (our Polydactyl cat)
Edward Scissorhands (our Polydactyl cat)
DATE: 2012/04/21::
35
6-toed polydactyl cat in ernest hemingway home sleeping comfortably on top of a display case
6-toed polydactyl cat in ernest hemingway home sleeping comfortably on top of a display case
DATE: 2013/08/26::
36
Frankie 6 The Toed Polydactyl Cat Standing and Saying Good Morning
Frankie 6 The Toed Polydactyl Cat Standing and Saying Good Morning
DATE: 2010/04/11::
37
Jake the Polydactyl Cat Being Silly
Jake the Polydactyl Cat Being Silly
DATE: 2013/05/29::
38
Cheeky polydactyl cat
Cheeky polydactyl cat
DATE: 2007/01/22::
39
Orchid the polydactyl cat who works in a brewery
Orchid the polydactyl cat who works in a brewery
DATE: 2013/03/16::
40
My Polydactyl Cat Having Fun Playing With iPad App "Fun And Games For Cats."
My Polydactyl Cat Having Fun Playing With iPad App "Fun And Games For Cats."
DATE: 2012/03/11::
41
Crazy polydactyl cat
Crazy polydactyl cat
DATE: 2010/12/09::
42
Sampson: The talkative polydactyl cat
Sampson: The talkative polydactyl cat
DATE: 2015/01/15::
43
Polydactyl cat does tricks
Polydactyl cat does tricks
DATE: 2012/01/26::
44
Frankie Six Toes The Whiskas Temptations PolyDactyl Cat Stands, Waves and Winks
Frankie Six Toes The Whiskas Temptations PolyDactyl Cat Stands, Waves and Winks
DATE: 2009/03/09::
45
Crazy Hemingway Polydactyl Cat
Crazy Hemingway Polydactyl Cat
DATE: 2012/06/09::
46
Simone, the gurgling rolling polydactyl cat
Simone, the gurgling rolling polydactyl cat
DATE: 2009/08/03::
47
A Slideshow of the Amazing, Unique and Funny Polydactyl Cat, Dempsey
A Slideshow of the Amazing, Unique and Funny Polydactyl Cat, Dempsey
DATE: 2012/03/28::
48
Nikki the Polydactyl cat playing in the sink
Nikki the Polydactyl cat playing in the sink
DATE: 2014/09/19::
49
HIGH TIMES MedCanCup Bay Area 2013   Polydactyl Cat and The Mad Dabber
HIGH TIMES MedCanCup Bay Area 2013 Polydactyl Cat and The Mad Dabber
DATE: 2013/06/25::
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Polydactyl ~ Cat with Extra Toes
Polydactyl ~ Cat with Extra Toes
DATE: 2011/05/21::
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One of the polydactyl cats at the Ernest Hemingway House in Key West, Florida; this particular cat has 26 toes

A polydactyl cat is a cat with a congenital physical anomaly called polydactyly (or polydactylism, also known as hyperdactyly), that causes the cat to be born with more than the usual number of toes on one or more of its paws. Cats with this genetically inherited trait are most commonly found along the East Coast of North America (in the United States and Canada) and in South West England and Wales.

Occurrence[edit]

The true polydactyly is a congenital abnormality, genetically inherited as an autosomal dominant trait of the ZRS cis element of the Pd gene with incomplete penetrance.[1]

Kitten with 23 toes

Normal cats have a total of 18 toes, with five toes on each front paw and four toes on each hind paw; polydactyl cats may have as many as eight digits on their front and/or hind paws. Tiger, a Canadian polydactyl cat with 27 toes, was recognised by Guinness World Records as having the highest number of toes on a cat.[2] Various combinations of anywhere from four to seven toes per paw are common.[3] Polydactyly is most commonly found on the front paws only, it is rare for a cat to have polydactyl hind paws only, and polydactyly of all four paws is even less common.

The nickname "double-pawed cat" is a misnomer since there is a specific double paw condition, although this condition may be interrelated with polydactyly.[4]

Feline radial hypoplasia (see squitten) is a mimic of polydactyly and is considered a severe condition. Radial hypoplasia may cause the formation of extra jointed toes, but it is not a result of the gene normally associated with polydactyls. It thus does not cause the "mitten cat" or "thumb cat" condition where the extra toes occur separated from the normal ones just like a dewclaw, usually associated with an additional pad which makes them look like an underdeveloped foot sticking out near the base of the normal toes. Rather, radial hypoplasia-related extra toes are immediately adjacent to the normal ones, giving the cat overly large, flat feet — colloquially known as "patty feet" or "hamburger feet". Though this looks less serious than true polydactyly (as the feet appear "normal" apart from having one or two extra toes), breeding such cats will eventually result in severely crippled offspring. Cats used in polydactyl breeding programs can be screened by x-ray for indicators of radial hypoplasia, and cats suspected to have radial hypoplasia should not be used for breeding.

History and folklore[edit]

The condition seems to be most commonly found in cats along the East Coast of North America (in the United States and Canada) and in South West England, Wales and Kingston-upon-Hull. Polydactyl cats have been extremely popular as ship's cats. Although there is some controversy over whether the most common variant of the trait originated as a mutation in New England or was brought there from Britain, there seems to be agreement that it spread widely as a result of cats carried on ships originating in Boston, Massachusetts, and the prevalence of polydactyly among the cat population of various ports correlates with the dates when they first established trade with Boston.[4][5] Contributing to the spread of polydactyl cats by this means, sailors were long known to value polydactyl cats especially for their extraordinary climbing and hunting abilities as an aid in controlling shipboard rodents. Some sailors also considered them to be extremely good luck when at sea.

Genetic work studying the DNA basis of the condition however indicates that many different mutations can all lead to polydactyly[1] and since samples from the UK and USA were shown to possess different mutations it seems likely that these cats have originated multiple times independently, rather than spreading from a single origin.

Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway was a famous aficionado of polydactyl cats, after being first given a six-toed cat by a ship's captain. Upon Hemingway's death in 1961, his former home in Key West, Florida, became a museum and a home for his cats, and it currently houses approximately fifty descendants of his cats (about half of which are polydactyl). Because of his love for these animals, polydactyl cats are sometimes referred to as "Hemingway Cats".

Some sources state that these cats are rare in Europe because they were killed as witches' familiars,[5] but other sources indicate that they are quite common in southern Britain.[4]

Naming[edit]

Nicknames for polydactyl cats include "conch cats", "boxing cats", "mitten cats", "mitten-foot cats", "snowshoe cats", "thumb cats", "six-fingered cats", "Cardi-cats", and "Hemingway cats". Two specific breeds recognized by some but not all cat fancier clubs are the American Polydactyl and Maine Coon Polydactyl, and named regional populations include the Boston thumb cat, Cardi-cat, Ithacat, and Vermont snowshoe cat.

Breeding[edit]

American Polydactyl cats are bred as a specific cat breed, with specific physical and behavioral characteristics in addition to extra digits.[6]

The American Polydactyl is not to be confused with the pedigree Maine Coon polydactyl. The polydactyl form of the Maine Coon is being reinstated by some breeders.[7]

A particular strain of polydactyl cats native to Ithaca, New York is known as the Ithacat. Polydactyls are very common in the Cardigan area of Wales, where they are known as "Cardi-cats."

PolyTrak Database of polydactyl Maine Coons[edit]

Polydactyl Red Maine Coon Kitten

The database PolyTrak comprises 1800 Maine Coons in total (as of July 2014). Out of them about 1200 are polydactyl.[8] The PolyTrak database service is a repository of information for the Maine Coon polydactyl cat. Details on numbers of toes are given as well as of catteries, sires and dames. Physiological characteristics of each polydactyl individual are also stored. There is no medical injury mentioned of any polydactyl Maine Coon individual. Thus PolyTrak could help to confirm on a broad empirical base, that the polydactyl Maine Coon (Hemingway mutant) has no negative healthy effects at all.

Genetic causes[edit]

Preaxial polydactyly: Ectopic Shh-expression, Hemingway mutant, mouse, right forelimb
Preaxial polydactyly: Maine Coon cat, Hemingway mutant, right forefoot
Preaxial polydactyly, Hemingway mutant: Frequency of polydactylous digits per individual

In the case of preaxial polydactyly of the Maine Coon cat (Hemingway mutant) a mutation of the cis-regulatory element ZRS (ZPA regulator sequence) is associated. ZRS is a noncoding element, 800.000 basepairs remote to the target gene Shh. An ectopic expression of Shh is seen on the anterior side of the limb. Normally Shh is expressed in an organiser region, called the zone of polarizing activity (ZPA) on the posterior limb side. From there it diffuses anteriorly, laterally to the growth direction of the limb. In the mutant mirroring smaller ectopic expression in a new organiser region is seen on the posterior side of the limb. This ectopic expression causes cell proliferation delivering the raw material for one or more new digits.[9][10][11]

In addition to the study of genetic causes of polydactyly limb patterning models are used to simulate the congenital disorder at the limb, being able to explain the development paths of polydactyly.

Biased polyphenism of a spontaneous complex variation[edit]

Polydactyly is a spontaneous complex phenotypic variation, developed in one generation. In the concrete preaxial form of the Hemingway mutant the variation is induced by a single point mutation in a noncoding cis-regulatory element for Shh. In an extensive phenotypic variation like this, one or more complete digits at each single limb are developed including nerves, blood vessels, muscles and ligaments. The physiology of the digits can be perfect. This complex phenotypic result cannot be explained by the mutation alone. The mutation can only induce the variation. In the consequence of the mutation thousands of events, each different from the wildtype, occur on different organisation layers, i.e. expression changes of other genes, cell-cell signal exchange, cell differentiation, cell and tissue growth. The summarized small random changes on all layers build the raw material and the process steps for the generation of the plastic variation.[3] The mentioned form of polydactyly of the Hemingway mutant shows a biased variation. In a recent empirical study first the number of extra toes of 375 mutant Maine Coon cats were variable (polyphenism) and second, the number of extra toes followed a discontinuous statistical distribution. They were not equally distributed as one might expect of an identical single point mutation. The example demonstrates, that the variation is not explained completely by the mutation alone.[3] The Maine Coon (wildtype: 18 toes) in some cases exhibits polydactyly with 18 toes, were the first toe at the forehand is elongated forming a three phalangeal thumb. More often 20 toes appear, and in diminishing order we see 22, 24 or 26 toes per individual. Also odd numbers of toes are seen.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Lettice, L A; A E Hill; P S Devenney; R E Hill (December 2007). "Point mutations in a distant sonic hedgehog cis-regulator generate a variable regulatory output responsible for preaxial polydactyly". Human Molecular Genetics 17 (7): 978–985. doi:10.1093/hmg/ddm370. PMID 18156157. 
  2. ^ "Fat Cat, Inc. — Your Cat Magazine Articles!". Retrieved 2008-01-28. 
  3. ^ a b c Lange, Axel, Nemeschkal, Hans L., Müller, Gerd B.. Evolutionary Biology, Dec. 2013
  4. ^ a b c "Polydactyl Cats (Part 1)". Retrieved 2007-01-20. 
  5. ^ a b "Is it true many New England cats have extra paws because Boston ships' captains considered them lucky? Or may it be true that they were better at catching mice than normal cats?". The Straight Dope. 1999-06-29. Retrieved 2007-01-20. 
  6. ^ "American Polydactyl". Retrieved 2007-01-20. 
  7. ^ Kus, Beth E. "The History of the Polydactyl Maine Coon". Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  8. ^ PolyTrak database
  9. ^ Lettice, L. A., Haeney, S. J. H., Purdie, L. A., Li, L., de Beer, P., Oostra, B. A., Goode, D., Elgar G., Hill R. E., de Graaff E.A. (2003). Long range Shh enhancer regulates expression in the developing limb and fin and is associated with preaxial polydactyly. Human Molecular Genetics, 12(14), 1725-1735
  10. ^ Lettice, L. A., Hill, A. E., Devenney, P. S., Hill, R. E. (2008). Point mutations in a distant sonic hedgehog cis-regulator generate a variable regulatory output responsible for preaxial polydactyly. Human Molecular Genetics, 17(7),978–985
  11. ^ Lettice, L.A., Williamson, I., Wiltshire, J. H., Peluso, S., Devenney, P. S., Hill, A. E., Essafi, A., Hagma, J., Mort, R., Grimes, G., DeAngelis, C. L., Hill, R. E. (2012). Opposing functions of the ETS factor family define Shh spatial expression in limb buds and underlie polydactyly. Developmental Cell, 22(2), 459-67
  • Chapman, VA; Zeiner, FN: The anatomy of polydactylism in cats with observations on genetic control Anatomical Record 141:205-217, 1961
  • Danforth CH: Heredity of polydactyly in the cat. Journal of Heredity 38: 107, 1947
  • Danforth CH: Morphology of the feet of polydactyl cats. American Journal of Anatomy 80:143, 1947
  • Jude, AC: Cat Genetics, 1955
  • Lockwood, Samuel, From American Naturalist "Malformations", polydactyl cats - Popular Science Monthly January 1974 Page 383
  • Robinson R: Genetics for Cat Breeders, Mar 1977
  • Sis, RF; Getty, R: Polydactylism in cats Veterinary Medicine and Small Animal Clinician 63:948-951, 1968
  • Todd, NB; Jones, TC: On independent assortmant of dominant white and polydactyly in the cat Journal of Cat Genetics 1:16-17, 1964
  • Vella, C; Shelton LM; McGonagle J; Stanglein TW: Robinson's Genetics for Cat Breeders and Veterinarians, Butterworth- Heinemann Ltd (19 Aug 1999)
  • Wenthe, M; Lazarz, B: A case of atavistic polydactyly at the hind limb of a cat [German] Kleintierpraxis 40:617-619, 1995
  • Wittmann, F: Polydactylism in a Cat Praktische Tierarzt 73:709, 1992

External links[edit]

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