They may appear to be all fingers and thumbs but Fred and Ned are two delightful four-month-old kittens that are looking forward to a new start this New Year.
The kittens are currently being looked after by the Gosport Town Branch of the UK’s leading feline charity, Cats Protection, and will shortly be going to their new home once they have been neutered.
Known as polydactyl cats, Ned has an extra eight digits, while his brother Fred has 10 more than the usual 18, making a total of 54 digits between them.
Branch volunteer Kate Stapleford explains: “These two kittens were in poor condition when they arrived but with veterinary attention and a lot of TLC from their fosterer, Fred & Ned are now thriving. They are wonderful, confident kittens and we are delighted that they have found a new home together.
“Fred and Ned are special in that as well as extra toes on the front paws, Fred has extra toes on his back paws. Our vet said he'd never seen that in 40 years in practice! Although they look a little unusual, the extra toes do not affect their health in any way and we know they will make the perfect companions for their new owner.”
Although not common, polydactyl cats can be found across the UK. It is a genetic condition that, in the majority of cases, causes no harm to the cat whatsoever, according to Cats Protection. Some polydactyl cats have just one extra toe on each paw but some can have two or even three extra on each foot. If a polydactyl cat has kittens, there is a good chance some of her kittens will also have the condition.
“There is a legend among sailors that polydactyl cats used to be ship’s cats and the extra toes helped them climb the rigging,” said Kate. “It’s a nice story, but these cats do not have a greater climbing ability. It’s neither an advantage or a disadvantage – just an unusual quirk of nature.”
Cats Protection has around 6,000 cats and kittens awaiting new homes at any one time. For details of your local branch of Cats Protection please call the helpline on 03000 12 12 12.
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Notes to editors
1. Cats Protection’s Gosport Town Branch is part of a national network of 257 volunteer-run branches and 30 adoption centres that together help over 230,000 cats and kittens each year.
2. Cats Protection’s registered charity number is 203644 (England and Wales) and SCO37711 (Scotland). The charity’s vision is a world where every cat is treated with kindness and an understanding of its needs.
3. Founded as the Cats Protection League in 1927, the charity adopted the name Cats Protection in 1998. We ask that you use the name Cats Protection when referring to the charity in all published material.