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Last Updated: Monday, 11 June 2007, 19:24 GMT 20:24 UK
Owner's appeal over cat's 26 toes
Des the cat
Des the cat can be temperamental according to his owner
They say cats have nine lives - so meet Des, who has 26 toes.

While most pet cats have 18 - five on their front paws and four on their rear - the 10-year-old boasts seven on his front and six on his back paws.

The extra digits have left owner Alison Thomas, of Felindre, near Swansea, pondering whether it is a UK record.

One expert said cats with extra toes were common in the area around the old county of Cardiganshire and were sometimes known as "Cardi-cats".

An animal with too many toes is called a polydactyl.

There are unconfirmed reports in north America of cats with up to 28 toes - but Mrs Thomas cannot find records closer to home.

Mother-of-three Mrs Thomas said: "He came to us when he was about six months old - he just turned up on the doorstep and it was even more noticeable then because his paws were so big.

"The first thing people say when they see him even now is 'look at his paws'.

"He is a bit temperamental - if you know him you are okay but Des can be quite quick with his paws and leave a nasty scratch because he has so many claws.

The cat's rear paw has six toes
His rear paws have six toes -his front paws have seven.

"He did have a problem with his paws a while back - nothing to do with the number of the toes - and the vet said he could amputate the extra ones.

"But they don't cause him any problems - he does not scratch the furniture - the children know and they say 'don't go near Des's claws'."

Mrs Thomas said she had read it was common for a polydactyl to have 24 toes - but 26 was 'very rare'.

Sally Hyman, from the Llys Nini Animal Centre in Penllergaer, Swansea, said she had seen lots of cats with six toes, but never one with seven.

"It's quite common to have six toes in Cardiganshire, and therefore we call them 'Cardi-cats' sometimes," Ms Hyman explained.

"Its because it's a genetic defect, the gene pool is actually concentrated in south west Wales, and so it's more likely to get a cat with that genetic defect, breeding with another cat with that genetic defect in Cardigan, than anywhere, else in Britain."

Mrs Thomas said she was "amazed", as Des had been born in Newcastle Emlyn in west Wales. "He obviously is a Cardi-cat," she said.

Record holder

The world record might belong to a cat called Mickey Mouse who was owned by Renee Delgade of Westlake Village, California, in 1974.

It had 32 toes, but there are doubts about the record as Mickey may have had "double paw" condition and may not have been a pure polydactyl.

There is speculation the real record holder for a polydactyl is Bobbi, owned by Kathy Williams of Stone Creek in British Columbia. The Canadian press reported in 2002 it had 28 toes.

"We would be interested to find out what the record is the UK," added Mrs Thomas.




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Des's many toes on show



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