This post is a long time coming! I am holding out that the New Year will allow me to eventually fulfill the ambitions for this blog. However, at this time I am still a bit more constrained than I would have chosen. You take what life gives you though, eh?
So what has life given me? Other than some ongoing physical issues I won't go into, life has given me Hemingway cats.
Don't know what a Hemingway cat is? It is a polydactyl kitty cat-- these are the cats that look like God splurged, in a fit of frenzied joy, and gave them extra toes. They are also known by many other names due to the oddly large pads of their paws but more commonly as 'polydactyl'. Surprisingly their toe count can range from 19 toes to the record of 28 toes held by a Canadian cat named 'Jake'. (Although, to note, there may be a contender to tie for the world record!)
There was also a presidential polydactyl named 'Slippers' in the White House when Teddy Roosevelt was in office.
So why are they named 'Hemingway cats'? This name is owing to the fact that Ernest Hemingway became a big supporter and admirer of these multi-toed cats after receiving one from a sea captain which he named 'Snowball'. Even to this very day his estate feeds, supports and protects the local population of polydactyls in Key West as historical treasures.
So that is what I now have. Two to be exact. Although there are three in the house. Lucky me has two of these mitten-pawed rascals.
Muska Hargitay is an adorable, little vocal scamp
with 20 toes and the first poly to be welcomed into the home. Whilst her sister (as yet unnamed, arrived Christmas day) and brother (Francis Speedray Cross, belonging to my niece) are both devoid of extra 'toe-pendages' they still have the genetic make-up that can result in polycats-- have happily completed a four cat household. (My old veteran, 'Ari Bella' isn't a poly but he is a definite cat-asset in the home!)
Although to be fair, even though they have the necessary genetic make-up to produce polybabies, due to the genetic strain that caused their polydactylism, they are not breeding stock. Polydactylism can stem from several genetic causes and one particular one can result in severe deformities in the litters. Muska unfortunately has the genetic strain that can cause these anomalies. As a result she has manifested a slight case of in radial hypoplasia in her right leg.
Radial hypoplasia is a congenital abnormality that can result in several physical manifestations and even death in a litter with such genetic components. But one of the worst manifestations for a kit from such a litter (other than death) is the lack of bones or a decidedly smaller femur bone structure in the forepaws. The severity can vary from cat to cat (even not physically showing up at all!) in polydactyls from such a genetic background. Also due to the higher percentage of disability and death in such litters it is recommended they are not bred.
Muska's radial hypoplasia isn't painful for her, but I tell you what it made me cringe every time I saw her leg twist up incorrectly! She is now sporting a very colorful pink brace in hopes that with some care she will develop normally. Luckily she is the only one in the litter that has resulted in this abnormality.
I also have a sneaking suspicion that the Universe gifted her to me because I am disabled as well. Why so? Because she is definitely an encouragement to me since there appears to be no stopping her despite her leg issue. Her exuberance gives me more hope for the disability I experience. Furthermore and quite simply, I have fallen head over heels for her gimpy, mitten-toed, little self and couldn't be more happy that life has given me some extra-pawed love in the midst of everything else.