Polydactyl cat

by Jane
(Pennsylvania)

Gus

Gus

Hello Dr. Neely,

I have a young polydactyl cat (9 months), that has 6 toes on each front paw. The "thumb" is fairly large and does not give him any problems. I am concerned about the sixth toe that is between the thumb and four regular toes. It is extremely small on each paw, and very hard to find. I have to clip his nails every couple of weeks, and can see that the sixth nail has the potential to grow into his skin. I am not much in favor of declawing, but I was wondering if I should consider having this sixth toe removed from each paw. In any event, I will probably wait and see if this actually becomes a problem for him, but I would like to know if this is done very often, whether it is advisable or what experience you have with this. Thank you for any advice.

Jane Wartinbee


Hi, Jane,

Yes, that toe is always a problem! If you are able to keep close watch on it and trim it often, then of course, I'd rather not see a cat declawed. However, there are cases where a cat won't let the owner clip the nails, in which case, removing just that claw is much better than having recurrent abscesses. That claw will definitely curl under and grow into the skin if not kept short or removed. That causes pain and infection.

You are absolutely correct about your observations and correct in deciding to see what happens and if necessary have the claw removed. When I say see what happens, I don't mean see if it will grown into the skin because it definitely will. I mean see if you are able to trim the nails often and without too much stress to you or Gus.

What a handsome guy. Thanks so much for the picture!

Best of luck,
Dr. Neely

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