Do you remember the polydactyl kittens born in Sonoma last October? Robert Crawford adopted Wally, the calico kitten who sported the most toes anyone locally had ever seen... 24.
Crawford reports that, today, Wally is a loving little baby because he was bottle fed by humans for so long. “When he’s tired he loves to snuggle and when he’s relaxed he will drool all over us,” he says.
Crawford also reports you can tell that Wally’s lineage is feral because he wants to hunt all the time.
“He loves to hunt his toys and he will bring his toys to us to throw and go fetch,” says Crawford. “He is an absolute pleasure and we couldn’t imagine our lives without him. He has brought so much joy and fun to our lives. He is the most eccentric cat we’ve ever had!”
Wally and his siblings were found by a Glen Ellen couple who have been taking care of feral cats in their neighborhood for years. They brought Wally to Pet Food Express on West Napa Street. Crawford, who managed the store, was eager to help.
Where most cats have five toes on their front paws and four on their back, some cats have a few extras, and they’re known as polydactyl cats.
Little is known about the total population of polydactyl cats nationally or worldwide. The Guinness World Record for the cat with the most toes is 28, and the honor is held by a Canadian ginger tabby named Jake, who has seven toes on each paw. Having extra toes isn’t unhealthy or detrimental in any.
Extra-toed cats are most common along the East Coast, particularly in Boston, Canada and England. These spotty populations of polydactyl cats could be due to the felines’ popularity on ships. Sailors believed extra-toed cats were good luck when at sea.
Polys are also known as Hemingway cats because Ernest Hemingway was given a poly cat named Snow White by a ship captain in the 1930s.
The poly trait can appear in any breed. At one time it was estimated that 40 percent of Maine Coon cats were polys and their wide paws functioned much like kitty snowshoes.
Pets Lifeline Executive Director Nancy King said that the shelter only had three polys this year.
“The polys we saw this year came from an entirely different place,” she said. “They were found in a box in a parking lot on Arnold Drive, not from the Glen Ellen colony.” They have all been adopted.
Bobby Crawford now manages the Napa Pet Food Express and his partner is the assistant manager of the Sonoma store. They say they would love to hear how Wally’s siblings are doing if anyone has a report.