Cat Sanctuary

Christina, our polydactyl kitty

A group of cats who were placed in the front courtyard were all given singers’ names by the med staff. I introduced Carly Simon and Celine Dion back in January, and in June Cher had her moment in the sun. Somehow I’ve missed the fourth cat named after a singer – Christina Aguilera!

Christina has another mutation common in cats – she’s a polydactyl, with extra toes on both front feet. This can be a result of breeding or it can occur spontaneously.
Christina Aguilera, RAPS Cat Sanctuary

Christina Aguilera

We have our share of cats with the manx tail mutation – from the totally tail-less rumpy (and the cats with manx syndrome) to cats like Abby with a tail that’s slightly shortened. Christina has another mutation common in cats – she’s a polydactyl, with extra toes on both front feet. This can be a result of

Christina Aguilera, RAPS Cat Sanctuary

Christina Aguilera

breeding or it can occur spontaneously. I understand that it’s most common in western England and Wales, and on the US eastern seaboard.  That would make sense, since apparently polydactyl cats were popular on ships – the theory was that their bigger feet made them more secure on a ship, and therefore they were better mousers!

Christina Aguilera Polydactyl Toes, RAPS Cat Sanctuary

Polydactyl

Polydactyls are sometimes known as Hemingway cats, because one of the areas that they are more commonly found is in Key West. The writer Ernest Hemingway was given a white six-toed cat by a ship’s captain, and his house, now a museum, is home to 40-50 polydactyl cats – many of them likely descendants of that first cat.  It’s been a while since we’ve had a polydactyl cat at the Sanctuary; the last one was Danny, a beloved favourite, who passed in 2010.

Christina tends to be the cat that walks by herself – she’s not aggressive in any way to cats or humans, but she’s still a little wary. However, that’s improving all the time, with attention from volunteers and visitors. Just don’t try to touch her paws – she’s not yet ready for that degree of intimacy!

Christina Aguilera, RAPS Cat Sanctuary

Christina Aguilera

Written by Brigid Coult
Photos by Michele Wright, Furry Friends Photography

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