There is some conflict on whether polys are considered a breed or not. Since the extra toe is a genetic mutation, some breeders consider it a flaw. Some breeders, especially Maine Coon breeders,recognize the polydactyl.
Back in the day, Polydactyls were very popular on ships. Those large paws helped them earn their keep as mousers. In fact, it was a ship captain that gave Hemingway his first polydactyl. The actual Hemingway cats, rather the descendants of the Hemingway cats, reside in Key West at Hemingway's former home. He left instructions in his will for his cats to be cared for. Their progeny, approximately sixty in number, can still be seen today at the Hemingway Museum.
Before they became popular with ship captains, they were often associated with witches and killed.
Their unique paws allow these cats to perform feats other cats only do in their dreams: open latches, catch things with one paw, etc.
If one parent of a litter is polydactyl, half the kittens will be polydactyl as well.
The only health issues that these kitties have that I'm aware of is that the extra claw can become ingrown and needs to be kept clipped.
Any Poly owners out there?
Shardai is a large sleek cat with attitude. He has the courage of a tiger and the disdain of a king. The fearless feline has only one weakness...his guardian. He would do anything for her, even come back from the afterlife.
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Thanks Paul and Tami. This is a hoot.