Have you ever seen a cat that looks like it's wearing mittens? Chances are, it is a polydactyl cat. Polydactyl comes from two Greek words, poly, meaning many and dactylos, meaning toes. This beautiful ginger cat hails from Genessee County Animals in Need of Homes, a shelter in Flint, Michigan, and he sports a total of 24 toes.
His toes aren't evenly spread among his four paws, however. He has seven on each front paw and five on each back. When a shelter volunteer picked him up, she discovered that he uses those mitts to hold on tightly. That's to be expected from a confused, sad cat who was surrendered to the shelter.
Polydactyly is a genetic abnormality. Most polydactyls have extra toes on their front paws but may have the normal 4 on each hind foot. Those extra digits look like thumbs but they are not opposable like our own thumbs are.
These special kitties are sometimes called Hemingway cats, because Ernest Hemmingway was given a white polydactyl cat named Snowball from a ship's captain. At his island home in Key West, Florida, Hemmingway collected more than 50 cats, including 50% polydactyls. President Theodore Roosevelt had a six-toed cat named Slippers.
The Guinness Book of World Records says a ginger named Jake, from Canada, holds the record for most toes. He has seven toes on each foot. However, there was also a cat named Mickey Mouse who lived in the '70s who boasted 32 toes. He may have had a condition known as "double paws." In that case, he would have actually had two fused, mirror-image paws on each foot.
Chubbles, the ginger cat in the shelter in Michigan, is looking for a new home. He's affectionate and gentle, allowing a volunteer to give him a manicure and count those adorable digits. Chubbles is somewhere between 7 and 10 years old. He's one of many cats who are looking for a good, forever home.
You can be the proud owner of a gorgeous cat, whether or not it has extra toes. All you need to do is call your local shelter. If you're interested in Chubbles, contact the Genesee County Animal Shelter. But hurry! This guy's so cute, he won't wait long!!