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Complete Heterochromia in Cat Eyes, Agouti Coat on Cats and Polydactyl Feet in Cats

Updated on September 24, 2013

Heterochromia

Complete Heterochromia

I am not a veterinarian or a cat DNA specialist. But I became curious about different colored eyes in animals years ago when I saw my first Australian Blue Heeler (dog breed). Then in more recent years I fostered a kitten with complete heterochromia - Chantal. Within the cat world these cats are called "odd-eyed." Often odd-eyed cats are white or mostly white with one normal eye (shade of yellow, orange or green) and one blue eye. This fit Chantal's description perfectly.

Chantal who was mostly white with some light gray fur on her head
Chantal who was mostly white with some light gray fur on her head | Source

Below is Lexi. I found her photo on the website for Ask a Vet. The owner was confused the different color of her two irises. Obviously the one on the right is a darker orange. The vet said that because the irises were both unblemished it looked to her to be a perfectly healthy kitten with two different colored eyes.

Example of two different shades of golden eyes
Example of two different shades of golden eyes | Source
overall "agouti" coat on Caspar
overall "agouti" coat on Caspar | Source

Agouti - A Type of Fur

There is a south American animal called an agouti. But the word "agouti" applies to a type of cat fur. The agouti fur is found in many cats. The cat, Caspar, below had an entire coat which was agouti. It has a distinctive appearance and one learns to recognize it. Some cats have agouti hair on part of their coat and not the other. With agouti fur, each strand has three different colors. Starting from the root there is one color and by the end of the strand of hair there are three colors. The genetics of this coat is very important to breeders.

If you look closely, you will see a hair with three colors: tan, black, and white
If you look closely, you will see a hair with three colors: tan, black, and white | Source
This kind of coloration is like agouti in that single strands of fur have more than one color, but in the cat world this coat is called "ticked"
This kind of coloration is like agouti in that single strands of fur have more than one color, but in the cat world this coat is called "ticked" | Source

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Polydactyl Cats

It happens quite often that a cat will be born with extra toes. This an inherited and benign condition. I have seen it work as an advantage wants to walk something narrow like a railing.

Normal cats have five toes on each front paw and four toes on each back paw. So "normal" is a total of 18 toes. Polydactyl cats can have as many eight toes on each paw. It is common for polydactyl cats to only have extra digits on front paws. One strange fact that if a cat is polydactyl on all four paws, each paw has the same number of toes. An interesting fact is that this inherited condition is found almost exclusively in the eastern parts of the US and Canada and in Wales and in South West England.(Wikipedia)

According to Guinness World Records dot com, Jake the Canadian cat with 28 toes holds the world record. He is a ginger tabby with 7 toes on each paw. Guinness recorded this record in 2002 and it was verified by a veterinarian.

This foster kitten had 6 toes on each front paw, making him polydactyl.
This foster kitten had 6 toes on each front paw, making him polydactyl. | Source

Another photo of black polydactyl

Source

Mittens

Like the kitten above polydactyl cats look almost like they are wearing mittens. In this case, the extra digit looks like a thumb.

One of China's Siamese mix kittens was polydactyl. The "mitten" look.
One of China's Siamese mix kittens was polydactyl. The "mitten" look. | Source
  • The Hemingway gene pool began with a gift to the writer of a white cat called Snowball with 6 toes on each front foot.
  • Hemingway named all his cats after famous people and this tradition is kept up by the Museum today
  • Key West is a small island so it is possible that Snowball's genetics were spread widely and all the cats on the island are related.

Hemingway Cats

The famous American writer Ernest Hemingway owned a home in Key West. It is now called the Hemingway Home and Museum. It is home to 40-50 polydactyl cats. These cats all have 6 toes on each front paws. The genetics for polydactyl paw is so pervasive that even the non-polydactyl females are likely to have polydactyl kittens

This is Toeman, a local cat
This is Toeman, a local cat | Source

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    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      A wonderful hub and very useful; therefore saving and sharing.

      Eddy.

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