More than the average moggy ... cat with extra toes seeks new home

Shell ... friendly and sweet-natured
Shell ... friendly and sweet-natured

A cat with a rare genetic trait that gives her an extra toe on each paw is looking for a new home after being handed in to Cats Protection’s National Cat Adoption Centre in Sussex.

Tortoiseshell puss Shell has a total of 22 digits – four more than usual – thanks to an inherited condition known as polydactyly.

There's an extra tow on each paw

There's an extra tow on each paw

Deputy Manager of Cats Protection’s National Cat Adoption Centre Karen Thompson said: “Shell is a lovely cat and her big paws make her that extra bit special.

“We don’t see polydactyl cats very often, it’s a really unusual quirk of nature. Having extra toes is neither an advantage or disadvantage for cats and, so long as they don’t get their extra claws caught on things, it shouldn’t present any problems.”

Six-year-old Shell was handed in to the centre, in Lewes Road, Chelwood Gate, last month after her previous owner died. While she’s friendly and sweet-natured, she can be nervous and needs a home without young children or dogs.

Polydactyl cats are those born with more toes than the expected 18 and were made famous by American writer Ernest Hemingway. A keen cat lover, Hemingway received his first polydactyl puss – named Snow White – from a ship’s captain in the 1930s.

To find out more about any of the cats currently available for rehoming at the centre please call 01825 741331 or email

To find out about cats available for rehoming at the volunteer-run branches throughout Sussex, please visit

The National Cat Adoption Centre is open every day from 10am until 4pm and is a great free day out for all the family.