By CLAIRE BATES
Super-sized paws: Fred (left) and Ned (right) are currently being cared for by the Cats Protection in Gosport
You'll need to be careful when playing with these black and white kittens - because they have an extra 18 toes (and claws) between them.
Fred and Ned are known as polydactyl cats. While most felines have 18 toes, Fred has an extra 10 digits and Ned has eight.
The four-month-old pair are currently being looked after by Cats Protection in Gosport, Hampshire.
Unfair advantage? A feather toy stands no chance against Ned (left) and Fred
Branch volunteer Kate Stapleford said: 'These two kittens were in poor condition when they arrived but with veterinary attention and a lot of TLC from their fosterer, Fred and Ned are now thriving.
'The funny thing is they seem to be able to hold on to toy balls better than other kittens and yet their grip is not as good when climbing. They are two bold and fearless boys so we are delighted to say that they have found a new home together.'
The kittens are fighting fit after arriving at the sanctuary in poor condition
Most cats have four toes on each back paw and five toes on each front paw.
Ms Stapleford added: 'Fred and Ned are special in that as well as extra toes on the front paws, Fred has extra toes on his back paws.
'Our vet said he'd never seen that in 40 years in practice.
'Although they look a little unusual, the extra toes do not affect their health in any way and we know they will make the perfect companions for their new owner.'
She added: 'There is a legend among sailors that polydactyl cats used to be ship's cats and the extra toes helped them climb the rigging.
'It's a nice story, but these cats do not have a greater climbing ability. It's neither an advantage or a disadvantage - just an unusual quirk of nature.'
Brothers in arms: The kittens have extra digits due to a harmless genetic quirk
'Some polydactyl cats have just one extra toe on each paw but some can have two or even three extra on each foot.
'If a polydactyl cat has kittens, there is a good chance some of her kittens will also have the condition.'
Cats Protection has about 6,000 cats and kittens awaiting new homes at any one time. For details call 03000 121212.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Paws for thought: Meet Fred and Ned, the cats with an astonishing 54 TOES between finally find a loving home together
By CLAIRE BATES