Do Bengal Cats Have Thumbs

Do Bengal Cats Have Thumbs?

  • March 14, 2023

Anyone that’s heard of it knows exactly what it is, but for those that don’t, the term “Thumb Cat” is pretty much self-descriptive. Cat thumbs, or polydactyly as it is scientifically known, are a fun and memorable cat that are about as unique as Bengal. So when a Bengal ends up with a thumb or other extra toes, it’s an instant classic. Given how unique this cat can be, let’s look further into it with these topics:

  • How does it happen?
  • Does it affect them in other ways?
  • Fun facts about Polydactyly

How does it happen?

Both forms of polydactyly happen for the same reason.

First off, the first form of polydactyly is the more widely known version, commonly known as thumb cat. Thumb cat polydactyly shows up when the dew claw(s) grow so large that they resemble thumbs.

To see an example of this form of polydactyly in a Bengal, check out the video below for a fun kitten polydactyl related behavior:

The second form of polydactyly shows up as extra toes, the regular toes instead of the dew claws, that are attached to the foot in the same space as the other toes. From the top, and with a furry enough foot, a polydactyly affected foot just looks extra wide.

This form can represent itself with a variety of toes amounts. If a Bengal cat is affected with polydactyly to this extent, they can have up to eight toes on their front two feet and seven toes on their back two feet, or three extra toes per foot total.

Vet Street says that both forms occur because the Bengal cat affected inherited the polydactyly coded gene from its parents. If one of the parents has polydactyly, there is up to a 50 percent chance that each kitten will inherit the gene and the mutation as well.

Does it affect them in other ways?

The only way that polydactyly shows up in affected Bengals, and all cat breeds, is with extra digits. Either extra toes that look like the regular toes or a dew claw on the front feet that is enlarged to look like a thumb, the only evidence of polydactyly shows up on the Bengal cat’s feet.

The abnormality does not cause them any problems or negative complications however. All polydactyl cats, Bengals included, live perfectly normal lives with their extra toes, like a cat who lost a leg at a young age.

When it presents as a thumb, the thumb is not opposable like it’s seen in cartoons. The thumb acts the same as it would as a regular dew claw or like the regular toes.

Some say polydactyl cats are better at balancing, walking, and climbing than a regularly toed cat would be, possibly making a Bengal even more versatile, but there is not scientific basis behind that.

The only perceived complication that comes along with polydactyly would be trimming more nails than normal, especially if the Bengal cat affected dislikes getting their nails trimmed or their feet held.

The best advice to avoid this when adopting a polydactyl Bengal, especially because of their extra energy and that they are prone to defending themselves more emphatically than other breeds, is to pet and massage the cat’s feet and toes from an early age.

Fun facts about Polydactyly

While it has been seen in all breeds, polydactyly has been seen in Maine Coons at a higher prevalence. Vet Street says that forty percent of Maine Coons can end up with an incidence of polydactyly.

Ernest Hemingway loved polydactyl cats exceptionally. The American writer kept many while living in Key Wes, Florida. The descendants of his first polydactyl cat still live in the area and currently number up to 50 in the “Hemingway Home”. More about these Hemingway cats can be found at Hemingway Home.

President Theodore Roosevelt had a polydactyl cat while living in the White House. Slippers was even one of the first cats to live in the presidential abode.

Despite its presidential habitation, the trait likely arrived in the United States first in Boston via a polydactyl cat on a ship from Britain. The trait is frequent in Britain, mainland Europe, and Asia. It is so exceptionally common in parts of Britain that it is almost not even an oddity.

Polydactyly can make an already unique breed like the Bengal even more interesting by adding to the cat, with toes and exceptionality. But getting one of these cats isn’t as easy as some may hope because their uniqueness makes them more sought after, likely even upping the price of the cat from the breeder.

So, what do you think about Bengals with thumbs or extra toes?  Do you agree with what was said here?  Comment below to let us know!

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