Rizzie is a polydactyl cat, available for adoption at Wayside Waifs, a Kansas City no-kill animal shelter. She has an extra toe on each of her front paws, giving them a mitten appearance. Her extra toes are not very noticeable unless you look closely. Sailors favored cats with extra toes because they were thought to be more nimble, better able to climb and excellent hunters of rats on the ship.
The first time I ever saw six-toed cats was on a visit to the Ernest Hemingway House in Key West, Florida. More than fifty cats roam the Hemingway estate, about half of them with six toes on each front paw, all descendants from Hemingway’s first six-toed cat. Cats normally have five toes on each front paw and four on each back paw. There are many variations of polydactylism in cats, which you can read about in the link below. The record is 28 total toes! Normal is eighteen.
Rizzie's front paw shows the mitten shape of a polydactyl cat -- a cat with an extra toe.
A ship’s captain gave a six-toed cat to Hemingway, who became one of the more famous lovers of polydactyl cats. After Hemingway died in 1961, his former home in Key West became a museum and a home for his cats. Because of his love for these animals, “Hemingway cat”, or simply “Hemingway”, is a slang term used to describe polydactyls. There are also official breeds of polydactyl cats, including the American Polydactyl Cat and the Maine Coon Polydactyl. Polydactyl cats are very common in the Cardigan area of Wales, where they are known as “Cardi-Cats.”
According to Wikipedia, polydactylism seems to be most commonly found in cats along the East Coast of the United States and in South West England. The most common variety of the trait spread widely as a result of cats carried on ships originating in Boston. (The polydactyl cats must have gotten a weekend pass and fraternized with the local cats…) Sailors valued polydactyl cats for their superior climbing skills and for their extraordinary abilities to hunt shipboard rats. Some sailors also considered them to be extremely good luck when at sea.
Anne Boleyn was reputed to have a sixth finger, but detractors may have created that rumor, because polydactylism was supposed to be a trait of witches. But the only thing witch-like about polydactyl cats is that they will bewitch you!
About Polydactyl Cats.
Hemingway House cats.
Click here to go to Live Cam of Hemingway cats.
Polly Paddlefoot has an extra toe on each of her front paws, which are not very noticeable unless she stands. A lucky family took Polly Paddlefoot to a new home. Polydactyl cats bring good luck!
A red-bellied woodpecker in our background.
A red-bellied woodpecker in our backyard.
A red-bellied woodpecker at our feeder.
In my post on January 8, I spoke too soon about enjoying a snow-free winter. A few days later, more than seven inches fell, and it’s not likely to melt any time soon in the below-freezing temperatures forecast to last for a week.
The birds are very active at our bird feeder now that their food sources are covered with snow, so I get lots of great photo opportunities. The red-bellied woodpecker is among many species of birds taking a turn getting seeds from our feeder. The red-bellied woodpecker eats insects, fruits, nuts and seeds. We’re lucky that we live in a forested area, so that we can catch a glimpse of these colorful woodpeckers, which depend on large trees for nesting.
About Red-Bellied Woodpeckers.
“Hey, look at these huge sunflakes coming down in the sunshine,” my husband called to me as I was hunched over my keyboard (Where else?) “It might make a good picture.”
I grabbed my camera. I soon spotted this nuthatch waiting on a tree branch for his turn at the bird feeder. After a few minutes, the snowflakes stopped falling. We’ve been lucky so far not to get any accumulated snowfall. Last year, we suffered here in Kansas City from lots and lots of snow! In fact, we had the third snowiest winter and tied for the 11th coldest winter in the 122 years of record-keeping in Kansas City. On Dec. 24, 2009, a blizzard hit us, extending even into Texas, where my sister said they got more snow on one day than they’d had altogether in the nine years they’d lived in Texas.
I should knock on wood at our good fortune so far this season. The winter is still young.
The National Weather Service Summary from NOAA of the winter of 2009-2010 in Kansas City is below.
Winter 2009-2010 temperatures were below average in Kansas City, with slightly below average precipitation and much above average snowfall
The average temperature at the Kansas City International Airport for the winter 2009-2010 season (December-February) was 26.5 degrees, which is 3.9 degrees below the 30-year average. Based on the longer term historical 122 year record from various Kansas City observation points, winter 2009-2010 has tied for the 11th coldest on record. The average high temperature for the season was 33.8 degrees, which is 5.7 degrees below normal, while the average low temperature was 19.3 degrees, which is 1.9 degrees below normal. The highest temperature of season was 59 degrees recorded on December 1st, and the lowest temperature of 5 degrees below zero occurred on January 2nd.
The total precipitation at the Kansas City International Airport for the winter 2009-2010 season (December-February) was 3.45 inches, which is 0.65 inches below the 30-year average. This would rank winter 2009-2010 as the 49th driest winter season in the longer term 122 year record in Kansas City. Snowfall was measured at 34.3 inches, which is 19.2 inches above the 30-year average of 15.1 inches for the winter season. This places the winter of 2009-2010 as the 3rd snowiest winter in the 122 year history of Kansas City observations.
National Weather Service Summary for Kansas City Winter 2009-2010.
The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:
The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.
The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 88,000 times in 2010. If it were an exhibit at The Louvre Museum, it would take 4 days for that many people to see it.
In 2010, there were 42 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 200 posts. There were 132 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 128mb. That’s about 3 pictures per week.
The busiest day of the year was July 1st with 2,049 views. The most popular post that day was Wayside Waifs.
Where did they come from?
The top referring sites in 2010 were wordpress.com, search.aol.com, facebook.com, WordPress Dashboard, and shoutsfromtheabyss.wordpress.com.
Some visitors came searching, mostly for hummingbirds, skin cancer, hunter s thompson, robert plant, and robert plant children.
Attractions in 2010
These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.
Wayside Waifs July 2010
95 comments and 27 Likes on WordPress.com
Generation Tattoo September 2008
Skin Cancer February 2010
Robert Plant receives Commander of the British Empire Honor July 2009
A Flock of Hummingbirds August 2008
9 comments and 1 Like on WordPress.com,