Polydactyl

  • Extra digit poly toes can look normal from the front.

  • To have a better understanding of the pads placements X-rays are a useful tool if a clear visual image is unable to be properly verified.

  • A common problem with "bad polygenes" is the issue with the claw being directionally incorrect or placement incorrect causing surgery to resolve the issue and relieve pain.

  • If two extra toes are fused together, the nail bed will also be fused. The claw that grows from this dual nail bed can also be fused, leading to something known colloquially as "superclaw syndrome". The fused claw or "superclaw" is thicker than a regular claw and may twist abnormally. A non-twisting superclaw is not normally painful for the cat, but because the claw is thicker and stronger than usual, it can gouge wood - and flesh - more deeply than a regular claw. If the superclaw grows twisted, there is a danger that it will become ingrown.

  • Where the extra toe causes repeated problems, it can be removed in a straightforward operation, but this is rarely necessary.

  • Normal front foot: 4.

  • Foot with extra toes that do not form a thumb (patty foot): 5; 6 (etc).

  • Mitten foot with thumb (single digit): 4+1.

  • Mitten foot with 2 or more extra toes: 4+2; 4+3 etc.

  • Mitten foot where extra claws are tucked between the normal foot and "thumb": (the numbers in brackets mean extra claws that aren't on a fully developed toe): 4+(1)+1; 4+(2)+1; 4+(1)+2 (etc).


  • Syndactyly (hypodactyly) or split-foot is the opposite of polydactyly.

  • Syndactyly and Ectrodactyly are visually similar. Ectrodactyly is the "lobster claw" defect where the paw is split longitudinally, most commonly between the first and second toes.

  • One of the more rare forms of Poly that has not been seen on camera or documented in quite sometimes. However dismissing the possibility of the gene causing such a mutation would be a silly thing to do at this time.

  • The exception is the gene which causes a whole spectrum of effects ranging from extra toes through to radial hypolasia/radial hemimelia/radial agenesis (the "thalidomide" or "twisty" mutation). This is the gene which causes a condition known as triphalangeal pollex-radial hypoplasia. In mice, there are several gene mutations known to cause this form of polydactylism; unlike conventional "thumb cat" polydactyly, the mutations seem to cause more general disruption of limb formation in an embryo.

  • Some owners like to have the extra toe removed for cosmetic or safety reasons.

  • The extra toe(s) can sometimes catch on furnishings. If the claw is set in such a way that it snags on furnishings etc, it can tear and infection can set in. Nail-bed infections or nail bed damage can lead to abnormal claw growth e.g. thickening or twisting. Where the toes are cramped together, the skin between them should be checked for infection as it provides a handy undisturbed crevice for bacteria. In general, the cat's own cleaning routine should prevent this, but if the toes cannot be spread then its tongue cannot easily clean between them.

  • n rare cases, nail growth can be affected, but only if the extra toe is incompletely formed and the nail bed is deformed. This can lead to a number of claw problems such as ingrowing claws, overgrown claws or "superclaw syndrome".

  • Ingrown claws grow twisted or crooked instead of growing straight with a smooth downward curve. Ingrown claws can grow into the paw pad and need either more frequent clipping or surgical removal. In the UK, such problem claws are the only time when declawing (of the affected toes only) is permitted. Ingrowing dewclaws can also occur in non-polydactyl cats where the claw grows into side of the foot.

  • Sometimes a claw develops between the thumb and the rest of the paw

  • Overgrown claws are not restricted to polydactyl cats, but are more common in polydactyls because the extra toe is often shorter than the regular toes or it points in a slightly different directions. This means that the cat is unable to strop the extra claws on a scratching post. Unless clipped regularly, the claw can become overgrown and embed themselves in the paw pad.

  • The pollex (plural: pollices) is the thumb.

  • The plantar pad is the heel pad of the paw.

  • The palmar pad is the palm-pad of the paw.

This absolutely stunning photo is of one of my dearest friends who herself is a breeder of MANY years. Her scientific breakthroughs in pulling recessive genes out of the Maine Coon line have been absolutely wonderful and we look forward to providing amazing scientific advancements and research for future cures and progress. Please check out her website and facebook!