Why pet puss Shell is not just your average cat ... she’s paw-some

Little Shell - who has extra toes - is looking for a new home SUS-190602-105031001
Little Shell - who has extra toes - is looking for a new home SUS-190602-105031001

A pet cat with a rare genetic trait that means she has unusually large paws is on the lookout for a big-hearted owner.

The tortoiseshell puss named Shell has an extra toe on each paw - and the memorable moggy is now looking for a new home after her previous owner died.

Shell - the cat with extra toes SUS-190602-105019001

Shell - the cat with extra toes SUS-190602-105019001

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

Normally, cats have five toes on their front feet and four on their back, a total of 18. But Shell’s multi-toed condition is no catastrophe - some say that polydactyl cats are good mousers and have extra-ordinary balance.

Shell is currently at the National Cat Adoption Centre in Chelwood Gate waiting for a new owner to take her home. Centre deputy manager 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.” But she said that having extra toes was “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 into the centre, in Lewes Road, Chelwood Gate, last month following the death of her previous owner.

Centre staff say she’s friendly and sweet-natured but can be nervous so needs a home without young children or dogs.

Polydactyl cats 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. Polydactyl cats often found their way onto boats because sailors believed they were good luck.

To find out more about Shell or any of the cats currently available for rehoming at the cat adoption centre call 01825 741331 or email cattery.reception@cats.org.uk

To find out about cats available for rehoming at volunteer-run branches throughout Sussex, please visit www.cats.org.uk/find-a-cat

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