Can big cats be polydactyl?

Tiger paw size
Tiger paw size
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Can big cats be polydactyl? The answer is probably, yes. Although, having read a lot about the big cats and all wild cat species and seen many photographs, I have not seen one polydactyl paw on any wild cat of any size or description. That does not mean that they don’t exist. Update: my instinct has been proved correct. Please read the comment below!

The only question that I have is whether the mutation which causes cats to be polydactyl is confined to domestic cats because of their evolution over about 10,000 years of domestication. I would doubt that this dominant mutated gene is confined to domestic cats and therefore I have to presume that it exists among wild cats in the wild.

A responder on the website writes that polydactylism has been seen in lions and ‘panthers’ and other creatures outside the feline family. I can believe it but she does not present any hard evidence. And there is no reference to this well-known congenital condition being present in wild cat species in the best books that I have. Neither can I find, on a rather quick search online, a reference to this. All the references are in relation to domestic cats. Indeed, it is only in reference to domestic cats that we read about polydactylism. If a visitor can point to a reference, I’d be very grateful and will amend the page accordingly – please see comment.

As mentioned, the lack of a reference online or in books is not conclusive as to the existence or otherwise of polydactylism in big cats. It’s simply creates a question mark in my mind. Sadly, there is no clean answer but logic dictates that it does exist amongst the big cats although perhaps very rarely.

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

2 thoughts on “Can big cats be polydactyl?”

  1. I’m watching Savage Kingdom, a National Geographic docuseries. In the third season, a leopard mother is shown with her cub, and the cub can be seen with polydactyl paws.

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