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Sunday, April 14, 2013

He's All Thumbs

I have finally been inspired to pick up the "pen" and write again. I've had a bit of a hiatus mostly due to lack of motivation from the winter blahs.  When it is cold and gray everyday, all I prefer to do is curl up and go to bed at night.  Needless to say, I don't get a whole lot accomplished around the house in the winter time. Fortunately, I think spring has finally arrived in Ohio!  Therefore, I have no excuse but to get motivated and clean the house, do my taxes and write more blog posts.  I'll start with the blog as that is much more fun than the other choices!

My first story of the year begins with the newest addition into our kitty clan.  His name is Ernie and he is 11 years old.  I adopted him from the nutritional research facility where I work after he retired from the important job of testing feline diets. I was attracted to Ernie from the first time I met him due to his large sweet personality and his HUGE feet!  Ernie is somewhat of a unique cat because he is polydactyl.  I have always loved these cats and am very excited to finally have a multi-toed guy in my house!

...and his toes!

For those unfamiliar with the term, it has nothing to do with dinosaurs despite the fact it sounds quite similar to pterodactyl.  It simply means having more than the normal number of digits (toes) on one or more of the paws.  The cause of polydactylism is an inherited gene which can be found in any breed of cat. And by the way, not only cats can have polydactylism. While doing some reading on the subject, I ran across some very interesting information and pictures of other species that also carry the gene.   Humans, mice, and horses can be affected as well. Anyway in cats, they can have multiple paws affected and usually have one to two extra toes on the paw.  They are more commonly known as "Hemingway" cats or "mitten toed" cats.  Ernest Hemingway, the famous American writer, had a colony of polydactyl cats at his Key West home.  His first cat was given to him by a ship's captain and he quickly became a fan of the multi-toed beasts. You can still see descendants of this cat living at the Hemingway museum in Key West.  Apparently polydactyl cats were commonly found  on ships as the sailors felt they were good luck and the large feet made them sure footed on the decks.

Count the fingers......
Count the toes......

Ernie  is starting to settle in quite nicely.  He isn't quite sure what to think of the dog who randomly chases him.  He was used to living with several other cats so I don't think the cats bother him too much.  The resident cats are still trying to get used to a new guy on their turf but they are slowly coming around.  Fortunately there have not been any "knock down drag outs" to date.   I know when Ernie is out and about as I can hear him plodding across the floor with his big mitts which has one of those extra toes tapping the floor as he goes. I forgot to mention that Ernie has a whopping 24 toes vs. the normal 18 toes that the average cat has.  It doesn't sound like a lot but when you add 6 digits to tiny paws, it adds on alot of flesh resulting in huge feet.  It makes me wonder what it would feel like to have extra toes or digits and does it give one any cool benefits?  Probably not, but it is an interesting anomaly that nature has provided none the less.