A figurative “Tiny Tim” of the feline persuasion presented to Dr. Kate Fitzwater, DACVS, and our Surgery Department on Halloween. Hercules (his real name) was just six weeks old, smaller than his litter mates, and had a condition called bilateral carpal varus. Put in simple terms, both his front limbs turned inward. Try as he might, this little fellow just could not keep up and was doomed to life long problems.
Hercules is also a polydactyl cat, which means he has extra toes that make his paws look like mittens! This is an inherited trait in cats. People often refer to them as “Mitten Cats” or “Hemingway Cats”, named after the famous author who adored and protected them. Many decedents of Hemingway’s first polydactyl cat still occupy his estate in Key West Florida.
To give Hercules a chance for a normal life, he was placed in bilateral forelimb splint bandages for 4 weeks to straighten his deformed legs. These were changed weekly to accommodate his growth and make sure he didn’t form any sores. The bandages did not seem to bother him and all. Karen, his owner, reported that with his “boxing gloves”, aka bandages, he started standing up to the big cats and boxing them in the face!
At the end of 4 weeks, the bandages were removed. Now, in this festive holiday season, Hercules has lived up to his name; he is walking well and playing with the big guys. He will continue to become stronger on his forelimbs and should grow normally without any foreseen complications. And, just as any proud polydactyl cat would do, he happily shows off his mittens to everyone he meets!