Polydactyl cat rescues US animal shelter

A  cat with two extra toes on each of his feet, in Milwaukee.  17 November 2011 Daniel, who was to be adopted, has instead become Milwaukee Animal Rescue Center's mascot

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An unusual cat is helping a Wisconsin animal rescue centre raise money to relocate to a new building.

The orange-and-white tabby, named Daniel, has two extra toes on each paw as a result of a mutation called polydactylism. He has a total of 26.

Milwaukee Animal Rescue Center, which will see its rent doubled on 1 January, asked for small donations of $26 (£17), one dollar for each toe.

Out of a total $86,000 raised so far, $50,000 has come from small donations.

The shelter, which takes in animals that might otherwise be euthanised, had said it would struggle to meet the new rent level for their premises at a Milwaukee-area shopping mall.

It has been seeking cash to help buy a new building to enable a permanent relocation, and with many $26 donations now says it has the financing to do so.

'Obvious' sign

Normal cats have 18 toes - five in each of their front two paws and four in the hind paws. Daniel's total of 26 toes leaves him two short of the world record.

Daniel, a cat with two extra toes on each of his feet, 17 November 2011 The shelter is hoping to raise $125,000 to become more financially secure

Amy Rowell, the rescue centre's owner, found Daniel in October at animal control while picking up another cat.

As she bent down to that cat's cage, the shelter's future mascot stuck his paw out and poked her head.

"He was very clearly saying, 'I need to be rescued, I'd like to be your friend, please pay attention to me,"' she told the Associated Press news agency.

"And when a sign is that obvious, we tend to not ignore it."

Some of the most famous polydactyl cats live in the former home of Ernest Hemingway, who received a six-toed cat from a ship captain. Almost 50 cats - about half polydactyl - live in the Key West home and museum.

Guinness World Records says the current record holder, Jake, lives in Ontario, Canada.

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