A Genetic Anomaly in Cats
HIstory of the Thumb Cats, Hemingway and Mitten Kittens
The first scientific record of the polydactyly genetic trait was in 1868. These many toed cats became infamous as hunters and climbers, making them a welcome guest upon any ship. Folklore even says that the extra toes made them more adaptable to the unbearable sway of the ship on the high seas and that they brought sailors good luck.
Ernest Hemingway became a fan of these "Mitten Kittens" when a ship's captain gave him a six-toed cat. The descendants of these cats still live in his Key West Home. They have even sparked a bit of controversy in the media over the federal government's involvement in regulation of these cats.
The Hemingway House
One of the descendants from Hemingway's adopted ship cat taken February 2007.
These cats can have up to eight toes on each paw.
Can be affected, too!
How the Disorder Works
At left: A radiograph showing the bone structure of a polydactyly cat.
Chapman, VA; Zeiner, FN: The anatomy of polydactylism in cats with observations on genetic control Anatomical Record 141:205-217, 1961
The Christian Science Monitor: www.csmonitor.com