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DISCUSSION OF THE BAD FORM OF POLYDACTYLY

Although we have discussed Radial Hypoplasia cats (the bad form of polydactyly) in the past....today we do not say too much about it. The reason is there is so much misinformation about it and it is never been in the Maine Coon pedigreed (registered) population anyway. Since it is a dominant trait (some call it the Tw gene -the unofficial gene name for a twisty cat) there is no way you could introduce it into the Maine Coon unless you bred a pedigreed Maine Coon with a feral cat. This would apply to the non polys and polydactyls in the Pixie Bob and Hemmingway cats also. 

Radial Hypoplasia can also cause extra digits, so technically it meets the dictionary definition of polydactyl (extra digits) but Radial Hypoplasia is in no way associated with polydactylism as we see in Maine Coons and Pixie Bobs. It is just a secondary expression of a cat with RH. The main trait of Tw (RH) is shortened or missing (radial aplasia) Radial Bone in front and very very rarely the equivalent long bone of the rear legs. But unfortunately you will see extra digits, which unlike Maine Coons this expression is post axial (on the outside of the paw) and 3 jointed thumbs, although they (3 jointed thumbs) appear on occasion in Hw variant Maine Coons...again no relation to RH and causes no problems. The extra toes are not a problem, but the way the limb develops adversely affecting the cats inheriting this gene. You likely would be unable to purchase an RH Maine Coon, nor register it, since there would no paper for the feral out-crossing. In any event it would not be a solution to the problem to ban points in a judging at a cat show to prevent RH...the damage as been done at this point and the ethical considerations go far beyond allowing a ribbon. 

From Messy Beast, (http://messybeast.com/twisty.htm ): 
Those who see a cat with Radial Hypoplasia for the first time either think it has both front legs broken or notice that it sits up like a rabbit. They walk in a shuffling or scrabbling motion. There are varying degrees of the condition, these tips take a worst case scenario. Some affected cats are found among feral cat colonies, but unless the colony is being fed by someone they are unlikely to survive outdoors - they cannot hunt, cannot run from predators, traffic or malicious humans and cannot defend themselves if molested. In addition they are likely to be singled out for abuse because they are different and therefore "easy targets". The gene is therefore not one conducive to survival and nature would select against it. While those which occur can be cared for, it is not ethical to select for such a deleterious gene or to deliberately perpetuate cats whose lives will be blighted by serious disability. 

So in nature, the trait is not survivable and is getting more rare all the time in the feral population. In short they will likely starve to death before mating. This is Mother Nature using "selection" to eliminate this trait. It does not, and should not, take a Cat Association to legislate its survival or demise. You cannot get rid of the Tw gene. You can only alter the cat and not breed with that cat or its offspring if it was bred. 

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