Six Toes

Six Toes
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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What IS a six toed kitty?

Someone recently asked the question "What causes a cat to have six toes?  What is a Hemingway cat like Six Toes and how is he different?"

I'll explain.  Six Toes and cats like him are genetically challenged due to an inherited genetic trait that gives them six (or more) toes.  The condition is called Polydactylism.  Cats with this condition exceed the normal toe count of five toes on the front paws and four toes in back.  In the case of Six Toes, he has six toes on his front paws and five on his back paws.  Polydactyl cats can also have as many as seven toes on their paws, depending on the genetic mutation.  It seems to occur most often in cats living in the east coast of the United States and southern England, although the reason for that is unclear.  The polydactyl cats became more commonly referred to as "Hemingway cats" because famous author Ernest Hemingway collected polydactyl cats and kept them as pets in his home in Key West, Florida. 

Polydactyl cats have great difficulty as kittens learning to walk and groom themselves as they tend to be clumsy with their big feet.  It took Six Toes a while to learn to walk and groom himself without constantly hitting himself in the head. 

Because of the abnormality, some Hemingway cats have other genetic deficits as Six Toes has.  My Six Toes has in addition to his polydactylism deformed eyelid margins (half of his eyelashes didn't form) and a heart that does not function correctly.  His brother, Buddha, is NOT a polydactyl cat, but has other genetic malformations of the skull and feet which have been difficult for him to master. 

Despite their differences and challenges, Hemingway cats are still lovable companions and great cats to snuggle with.  And some folks say they'll bring you luck.  I don't know.  I just know I love my Six Toes!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Flood! Thunderstorm!

Poor Six Toes.  It's been a couple of days where new experiences have left him confused and bewildered.  At his home we've had inclement weather to put it mildly.  Lots and lots of rain.  And one evening, a thunderstorm.  A really LOUD thunderstorm.  And Six Toes was determined to figure out what it was outside that was making all the racket.

He poked his head through the curtains as the thunder crashed and rolled.  Then he sat up like a squirrel to see more.  He just couldn't figure it out.  What mystified me was that most of my other cats were either hiding or ignoring the noise.  But not Six Toes.  He was determined to find out what all the hubbub was and do something about it.

After the storm, it rained.  And because the ground is saturated and somewhat still frozen, the water leaked into my basement.  Not much, you understand, but enough to cover the floor with about a quarter to a half inch of water.  And that's where the litterboxes are.  So after moving the litterboxes to higher ground (on top of milk crates) I began to bail out using a Shopvac.  If you've never used one, they are very loud.  Most of my cats run for the hills when it's on. 

But not our Six Toes.  First, he came to the basement to find out what was going on.  He watched me put the litter boxes up and decided to check it out.  So the first thing he does it put his toe in the water. And pulled it back.  Clearly he was confused.  Why was there cold water in the house near his litterbox?  But after watching me working, curiosity got to him and he made the plunge.  Two or three bounds across the wet floor and into the litterboxes up on the crates!  Which led to another problem:  Six Toes feet.  You see, his big paws were WET.  Really wet.  So when he leaped into the box, he got litter on his paws that turned to a muddy, clay-like mess!  He wasn't happy.  He found another safe perch to sit and watch me vacuuming up the water.  Which was fascinating to him, as he tried to attack the vacuum attachment repeatedly.  When I finally took a break, I got Six Toes, took him upstairs and cleaned off those muddy paws.  The cad.  And even though we've made a dry path for the cats to get to the litterboxes, he still insists on exploring this new wet world.

So for the past couple of days now, he's had a lot of new experiences and entertainment.  He's watched his humans bailing water and for some reason, always washing his toes!  And it's been noisy. 

I'll be glad when Spring is over....

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Six Toes Gets Lonely...

Poke. Poke. Poke.  BITE!

It's Six Toes.  He's really unhappy that I was gone this evening working.  So while I was sleeping, he decided he needed my attention. 

First, he laid down by my head and scooted his feet towards my face.  Poke.  Poke. Poke.  On my face, in my eye, on my cheek. Poke. Poke. Poke. 

When that doesn't work, he pokes some more, causing me to lift up my hand to brush him away.  For him, it's play time.  BITE!  He latches onto my arm, not enough to break the skin, but strong enough to hurt. 

Poke. Poke. Poke. BITE!  BITE!

He's enjoying his little game to get my attention.  Really. 

Finally, after getting me awake enough to know what's going on and that he wants attention, he curls up in a contented ball near my head and goes to sleep....SNORE.  SNORE. 


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Spring with Six Toes

Well the days just got longer and the weather is moderating.  The snow is melting.  The sun shines brightly on my floor in the afternoon...the perfect place for my buddy Six Toes to have a sunbath!

Watching him stretch out on the floor, luxuriating in the sunshine, with a blissful smile on his lips was worth all the tea in China.

His brother Buddha played tag with him later.  Six Toes runs on by and 'tap!'  Buddha tags his brother it.  Then it's king of the mountain...Six Toes on top of the couch.  Buddha trying to knock him down.  Finally, after a good run and several small fights over who's on top (but nobody gets seriously hurt), the brothers both settle down for an afternoon nap in the sunshine. 

Six Toes probably doesn't remember summer.  He was just a tiny kitten when we got him last year during the summer months.  Wait till he sees grass and butterflies and flowers....he'll go bonkers.  Ditto flies, which I'm sure he'll swat with his great big paws if they get in the house.  Wham! 

Now if he'll just refrain from eating them....

Friday, March 11, 2011

Six Toes Has a Miracle....

Took Six Toes back to the vet to get some bloodwork and see how he's doing.  And guess what?  All the tests come back normal or near normal!  The medicine worked.  His vet said that is was better than she expected, almost miraculous.  I wouldn't say almost...definitely miraculous!  Six Toes has more energy these days and looks happy and content.  His purr is louder.  And we're so happy that he's well.

Watching Six Toes just this morning playing with some string, I just thought of all the people he has to thank.  The vet, who diagnosed the problem and treated it promptly, using her knowledge; the pharmacist, who probably thought it was really weird to give heart medicine to a cat, never mind his odd name; the fans reading this blog, who prayed unceasingly; Christopher Penczak, who lent his expertise in Reiki to us in treating him at home; the elders of my church who prayed for a blessing upon him; and all of his animal playmates Buddha, Stormy, Torchy, Kali, Braveheart and Buddy, who love him and care for him always. 

Six Toes is one lucky kitty.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Test Results Look Good....

Six Toes had an appointment at the doctor yesterday.  He was pretty chipper for a cold winter morning.  Doc measured his blood pressure...much better.  All signs point to the medication working and his feeling a whole lot better!  What wonderful news to hear. 

Shot some new pics of Six Toes hanging out with his buddy, Bully, the well as his bro. I should have those up pretty soon on the blog for you to enjoy.  This afternoon he's chilling with me as I write as usual...the rascal.

Let's just continue to think positive for my little guy...