I just got 3 beautiful foster kittens to take care of and the second thing I noticed (after seeing their gorgeous faces) was the size of their paws! The largest kitten who I am calling Mittchell because he has such large mitts – has 7 toes on each of his front paws – 3 thumbs – and an extra toe on each of his back feet. He has 24 toes instead of the normal 18 toes and is what is called a polydactyl cat. This is a natural mutation that occurs in many cats. Many sailors thought that polydactyl cats were extra good luck but mostly people love them because they are so adorable!
The polydactyl kitten or cat needs extra attention paid to those nails to make sure they do not grow into the pad. Healthy mobile animals will naturally wear down their nails; although many will need an occasional nail trim. Depending on your pet, trimming nails may be done at home by you, by a groomer or by a vet tech in your vet’s office. Go slow and be gentle as some animals may be very sensitive to having their feet handled for a number of reasons so give treats afterwards as a reward. Here’s some advice on healthy foot care for your cat:
Pay attention to:
- The length of all nails. Some nails are hidden and easily forgotten about but when overgrown and growing into the pad, can be the source of much pain. Take action to keep nails trimmed and well away from growing onto the pad. If you are not comfortable doing this, ask for assistance or request lesson on how to do this. Going slow at first and only doing a few nails at a time is a good way to get both you and your kitten or cat used to this procedure.
- The base of the nails. Is there infection, dirt or fungus present? Is there a bad smell? Healthy feet should not smell bad! Consult with your veterinarian if any of the above are present.
- The pads of the feet. Are they dry and cracked, or red and painful? Cats with very furry feet that stay constantly damp from going outside in wet weather are more at risk for infections. Sometimes simply keeping the hair trimmed and the feet dry will help alleviate problems. If you live in a snowy area make sure your cat’s feet are free from ice that can collect between the toes.
To keep those nails healthy and to promote good scratching habits, always offer your kitten or cat an appropriate place to scratch. Cat scratchers made from sisal, cardboard or even a log from outside will keep your kitten or cat from using things such as furniture and/or carpet.
Start training your kitten or cat from an early age and redirect them to something more appropriate when they chose something you do not wish them to scratch on. Now go and enjoy the cuteness of those precious little cat feet!