WHEN IT comes to toes, most cats are born with five on their front paws and four on their rear, but Des the Cardiganshire cat has an abundance of extra digits. In fact, the ten-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 Des has set a UK record.
Mother-of-three Mrs Thomas said: “Des 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.
''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’. There are unconfirmed reports in North America of cats with up to 28 toes - but Mrs Thomas cannot find records closer to home.
An animal with too many toes is called a polydactyl. 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 is obviously is a Cardi-cat,” she said.
The world record might belong to a cat called Mickey Mouse who was owned by Renee Delgade of Westlake Village, California, in 1974. Mickey boasted 32 toes.
However, 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. Another cat named Jake from neighbouring Ontario was also reported in 2002 to have 28 toes.