Inherited traits are passed down through an animal’s genetic code which is found in the animal’s DNA—a long molecule that is present in every cell in the body. The DNA contains thousands of genes. A gene is a specific DNA sequence that leads to the expression of an inherited characteristic. For example, there are genes that determine eye color, coat color, and other body characteristics.
And while we’re used to, for example, cats with 18 toes and puppies with 2 ears, sometimes an animal’s genes decide to play a trick on us, and it comes to this world with more (or less!) of these features. Continue scrolling and take a look at this Bored Panda list, compiled to show you what genetic surprises some of our beloved creatures possess!
#1 Frankie Was Born With Four Ears And An Eye Deformity But He’s Still Purrfect
Image credits: Missy-Andry
One of the most frequent congenital physical anomalies we see in this list is polydactylism, which causes animals to be born with more than the usual number of toes on one or more of their paws.
Interestingly, the condition seems to be especially common in cats along the East Coast of North America (in the United States and Canada and in South West England, Wales, and Kingston-upon-Hull.
Polydactyl cats have been extremely popular as ship’s cats as well. Even though there is some controversy over the question of whether the most common variant of the trait originated as a mutation in New England or was brought there from Britain, there seems to be agreement that it spread widely as a result of cats carried on ships originating in Boston, Massachusetts, and the prevalence of polydactyly among the cat population of various ports correlates with the dates when they first established trade with Boston.
#2 Cat Named Yoda Was Born With An Extra Set Of Ears
Sailors have been known to value polydactyl cats especially for their extraordinary climbing and hunting abilities as an aid in controlling shipboard rodents. Some even thought they bring good luck at sea. The rarity of polydactyl cats in Europe might be explained by the fact that they were hunted and killed due to superstitions about witchcraft.
The legendary Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway was an aficionado of polydactyl cats too. His love for these animals began after one ship captain gave him a six-toed cat he named Snow White.
Upon Hemingway’s death in 1961, his former home in Key West, Florida became a museum and a home for his cats, and at one point it housed approximately fifty descendants of his cats (about half of which were polydactyl). Because of his immense love for these animals, polydactyl cats are sometimes referred to as “Hemingway cats”.
“The things that make me different are the things that make me,” one very special animal said. And the animals in these pics are very special too.
#3 Ren Is A Polydactyl With 6 Toes On Each Foot
Image credits: Aliendiaperbaby
#4 This Unicorn Puppy Named Narwhal Was Found Abandoned With An Extra Tail On His Forehead
Image credits: Mac the pitbull
#5 This Is Skadi, The Norwegian Lundehund Puppy
This is one of the oldest breeds in the world and is recovering from near-extinction – in 1963, only 6 remained. Now there are 1600. They are naturally polydactyl, can close their ears to water, and bend their heads back 180 degrees.
Image credits: twenafeesh
#6 I Adopted A Stray Dog With 2 Mouths, One Where The Ear Should Be
Toad is about 6 years old, she found her way to the shelter that I worked at several years ago. The whole staff was kind of in shock at her appearance. She was also highly aggressive when she came in. A shelter officer muzzled her and carried her to the vet clinic and while she was there being examined, it sounds goofy but literally, we made eye contact and she immediately relaxed.
That day I took her into my office to evaluate her and she immediately crawled into my lap. This big scary, insane-looking dog, just climbed into my lap and rested her head on my shoulder. I adopted her and we have been inseparable ever since.
Image credits: toadsearmouth
#7 My Sister Found This Adorable Guy With Extra Toes
Image credits: TorchedBannana
#8 Too Many Peets
Image credits: RickMcFlick
#9 Met This Cat Today With Two Tails
Image credits: Fulcrum71
#10 Polydactyl Maine Coon
Image credits: robert_sijka
#11 A Cat With An Opposable Thumb. I For One Welcome Our New Cat Overlords
Image credits: cronkgarrow
#12 Doubled Fangs Of a kitten
Image credits: iceage2012
#13 Got My Cat Wholesale And He Came With 75% Extra Beans
Image credits: sobraticmethod
#14 My Cat Is Polydactyl And Has 26 Toes. So I Named Him Toes
Image credits: Papa-Wu
#15 Sansa Is A Special Needs Rescue Princess With Feline Hyperesthesia, Different Colored Eyes & More Toes Than You
Image credits: sansa.thecat
#16 The Cat At Our Warehouse Gave Birth To A Kitten Who Has An Extra Tiny Paw That Functions As A Thumb
Image credits: Bragapple
#17 Meet Phoebe, The Polydactyl Highland Lynx Complete With Curled Ears And A Bobtail
Image credits: kaykykelkip
#18 This Kitten With 7 Beans!
Image credits: Triceratons
#19 Amelia And Her Two Faced Cat
Image credits: GallowBoob
#20 Say Hi To Our New Kitten Maximillion! He’s A Polydactyl Siamese
Image credits: damatt09
#21 Sleepy Polydactyl Kitten With An Extra 6 Toes
Image credits: highrollerbipolar
#22 At Work Today We Literally Had A Mutant Cat Come Through… Extra Canine Tooth, Strongly Rooted
Image credits: saintlindsay
#23 Polydactyl Kitten In Clinic Today
Image credits: DrySheckles
Image credits: eimeardelarosa
#25 My Polydactyl Kitty Stella
Image credits: jene-brooke
#26 Our Little Ginger Polydactyl Kitten
We rescued him and his calico sister from under a neighbour’s deck when they were ~2.5 weeks old. We had to bottle feed them at first, and now they’re eating machines. And super playful and healthy!
Image credits: StreetSpiritFO
#27 Polydactyl Peek-A-Boo
Image credits: Cynthiadawn
#28 My New Love! She’s A Polydactyl She Has 6 Toes On Each Foot! Any Names?
Image credits: ladygargoyle
#29 This My Nugget At 2 Months Old And 1 Year Old. She’s My Stunted Growth, Cross Eyed, Head Tilted, Polydactyl, Special Kitty
Image credits: Sikarum
#30 Here Is My Rescue Baby
Image credits: SayianPrincess19
#31 Extra Beans
Image credits: smartas
#32 I Drove Over An Hour One Way To Pick Up My Purrito With Extra Beans From A Shelter In The Middle Of Nowhere. Meet Zula
Image credits: Daiiga
#33 Friend’s Cat Has Black Chin, So It Always Looks Surprised. It’s Also A Polydactyl And Had Thumbs
Image credits: placeboob
#34 My Kitten Showing Off Her Polydactyl Toe Beans
Image credits: ChunkyBlowfish
#35 This Is Migi, Our Polydactyl 6-Year-Old Cat
Adopted another older, shy girl from the shelter. When we met her, she looked sad, wasn’t food motivated and poor girl still needs some dental work done.
Image credits: chomps44
#36 My Friend’s Polydactyl Half-Lynx Kitten. Her Name Is Nimh
Image credits: BaronVonDouchebag
#37 Found A Kitty With Extra Beans At The Lake. Meet Pawla Abdul
Image credits: unlimitedJUICE
#38 Leg Broken In 2 Places But Still Got Sexy Legs And Thumbs
Image credits: Pemigewasset
#39 This Cat Has Both Heterochromia And Extra Toes
Image credits: sansa.thecat
#40 Skippy’s Toes. He Was A Kitten I Fostered Last Year Who Had Radial Hypoplasia And A Lot Of Toes
Image credits: youngestoldcatlady