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The Fascinating World of Polydactyl and Hemingway Cats

Polydactyl Cats: The Genetic Trait You Didn’t Know About

Have you ever seen a cat with six toes? Cats are a diverse species, and they can have various physical traits that differentiate them from one another.

Polydactylism is one of those traits. Polydactylism refers to the occurrence of extra digits on the paws of a cat.

In this article, we’ll learn more about polydactyl cats, their genetic mutations, inheritance, and the potential advantages and disadvantages. What Is a Polydactyl Cat?

Polydactyly is a genetic mutation that results in the development of extra toes on a cat’s paws. It can happen to any breed of cats, but it’s most commonly found in Maine Coon cats.

This genetic mutation is an autosomal dominant trait, meaning that just one defective gene from either parent will result in the expression of the polydactylism trait in the offspring.

The term ‘polydactyl’ comes from the Greek words ‘polys’ which means many and ‘daktulos’ which means digits.

The number of extra digits can vary from one cat to another, with some having an extra digit on only one paw, while others may have extra digits on all four paws. Can Any Cat Have the Polydactyl Genetic Mutation?

While polydactylism can occur in any breed of cats, Maine Coon cats are the most associated with this trait. Maine Coon cats are a breed of domestic cats that originated in Maine, USA.

They are known for their large size and bushy tails, and according to the Guinness World Records, the largest domestic cat was a Maine Coon cat named Stewie.

Maine Coon cats developed in the harsh environment of the Northeastern United States, where harsh winters and unstable terrain resulted in a high prevalence of polydactyly.

This means that hunting and climbing would have been easier for cats with additional toes. The high prevalence of polydactyly in Maine Coon cats suggests that the genetic mutation that causes it might have been favorable to the species’ survival in that environment.

Are There Any Advantages or Disadvantages to Polydactylism? Polydactylism in cats does not cause any severe health issues, but there are certain disadvantages to the condition.

One of the primary concerns is the possibility of nail overgrowth, which can lead to ingrown nails and infections. These cats may require more frequent nail trimming than cats with normal digits.

Polydactyl cats may also experience some musculoskeletal disorders, especially if the extra digit is not well-formed. If the extra digit is fused with another digit, it can result in a deformity or disability in the paw, which can affect the cat’s mobility.

On the other hand, some people believe that polydactylism gives cats an advantage in hunting and climbing due to the extra stability provided by having more toes. This belief is somewhat supported by the ubiquity of polydactyl Maine Coon cats in the harsh terrain of Northern America.

Variable Expressivity of Polydactylism

Polydactylism is a simple genetic trait, but its expression can vary based on the specific case. There are two primary types of polydactylism, with varying degrees of digit expression.

Preaxial polydactyly results in an extra digit on the thumb side of the paw, while lateral polydactylism results in extra digits on the pinky-side. In some cases, the extra digits are well-formed and are no different from the other digits on the paw.

In other cases, the extra digit may be smaller, or it may not be functional at all. The degree of expression can vary from one cat to another, and even within the same litter of kittens.

Inheritance of Polydactylism

Cats with polydactylism typically inherit the condition from their parents. If one or both parents of a kitten are polydactyl, there is a high chance that the kitten will also have the mutation.

This genetic mutation results from an autosomal dominant gene, which means that just one copy of the mutated gene is required to produce extra toes.

Suppose a polydactyl cat is bred with a normal cat.

In that case, the chance of the offspring having polydactylism is 50%, as only half the offspring will inherit the mutant gene. However, if two polydactyl cats are bred, all the offspring will inherit the trait.

Final Thoughts

Polydactylism in cats is a fascinating genetic trait that results in extra toes on a cat’s paws. While it does not cause severe health issues, it does require attention and must be considered when taking care of your pet.

Maine Coon cats are the most commonly associated breed with polydactylism due to their origins in a region with a high occurrence of the mutation. The degree to which the trait is expressed can vary, and it is inherited from the kitten’s parents.

If you have a polydactyl cat, make sure to take extra care when taking care of their paws. Hemingway Cats: The Unusual Feline Ties to Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway was known for his literary prowess, but do you know about his love for cats?

Hemingway’s love for these furry felines went deeper than just adoration; it led him to become known as the “cat man” for his unique collection of cats, which have become known as Hemingway cats. In this article, we will dive into the story behind Hemingway cats, their significance, and their current status.

The Story Behind Hemingway Cats

Hemingway cats got their name from Ernest Hemingway, an American novelist who was also known for his love for cats. Hemingway was often seen with his cats, and he would talk about them often, calling them “purr factories.” Hemingway’s passion for these animals was not just typical admiration, but he was particularly drawn to polydactyl cats.

Hemingway first encountered these unusual cats in 1928 in a port in Massachusetts where he met a sailor who gifted him a six-toed cat named Snow White, who became one of his most beloved pets.

Hemingway’s fascination with these unique felines began to grow, and Snow White eventually sparked the beginning of Hemingway’s collection.

Later in the 1930s, while traveling to Cuba, Hemingway got his chance to add to his collection when he encountered a ship’s captain with a polydactyl cat he named Uncle Willie.

Interestingly, many believe Hemingway’s love of cats might be genetic, because he himself had a polydactyl gene, as evidenced by photos of his hands that show him with oversized fingers.

This possible genetic trait might have contributed to his love for these unique pets. After Hemingway passed away, his collection of cats remained on his property for many years.

Over time, more descendants of Hemingway’s polydactyl cats joined the mix, creating a unique colony of felines that continue to be a significant cultural draw.

Hemingway Cats Today

Today, Hemingway cats continue to reside on Hemingway’s former estate, now known as the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, in Key West, Florida. The museum allows visitors to interact with over 60 polydactyl cats that call the property home.

The cats are free to roam around the property, lounging around comfortably in every area of the house, including Hemingway’s writing room, where he wrote some of his most famous works. Interestingly, the cats on Hemingway’s estate are a mix of breeds, and not all of them are polydactyl; however, the descendants of the original polydactyl cats do have an incredibly high rate of the genetic mutation, with around 45 out of 60 cats being polydactyl.

Visitors can see these unique felines as they wander around the museum, relax on the many catwalks, and recline in the gardens. The cats at the Hemingway Home and Museum are carefully monitored and cared for by a team of veterinary professionals.

They are well-fed, have plenty of water and food, and are routinely checked for any health issues. Museum officials also ensure that the cats are spayed/neutered and receive regular wellness checks for their overall wellbeing.

In addition to serving as living additions to the museum’s exhibits, Hemingway cats also play a role in many charitable efforts such as raising funds for local animal shelters and rescue organizations. Their fame has created a strong following, and this has helped in providing resources for the animal shelters.

Final Thoughts

Hemingway cats are a unique breed that is famous for their connection to the late American novelist Ernest Hemingway. Their connection to Hemingway’s legacy is profound, and they continue to serve as a fascinating cultural attraction.

While their uniqueness and quirks have made them famous, it is important to remember they are pets, and they also require care and attention like any other animal. The Hemingway Home and Museum has done a fantastic job of taking care of them, ensuring that they are well-fed and given every possible amenity to help them lead happy and healthy lives while entertaining thousands of visitors every year.

In conclusion, Hemingway cats are polydactyl felines named after the renowned American novelist, Ernest Hemingway, who had a love for these unique animals. Hemingway’s collection of cats began with a six-toed cat named Snow White, and his admiration for these felines grew over time.

Today, Hemingway cats reside on his former estate, the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, in Key West, Florida. Visitors can observe and interact with the colony of over 60 polydactyl cats that roam freely around the property.

The Hemingway cats have become a significant cultural draw, serving as living additions to the museum’s exhibits and raising funds for local animal shelters and rescue organizations.

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