We’d All be in a Lot of Trouble.

The post title answers the question posed by today’s observance. You see, March 3 is apparently official “What if Cats and Dogs Had Opposable Thumbs? Day” – and as any pet owner can attest, that’s a recipe for disaster.

Something I know from personal experience, because I once had a cat with opposable thumbs.

Technically they weren’t exactly “thumbs” as we know them, of course. The cat was named “Clicker” (for the noise her extra claws made on the floor) and she was a polydactyl, but instead of having just extra toes on her front paws, she had extra paws on her front paws.  From the top, they looked like little swollen thumbs. From the underside, you could see that she actually had a tiny paw pad set at a right angle to her regular one, with four tiny toes extending from it. (They looked a lot like this.)

As if that wasn’t weird enough, Clicker had the same degree of control over the tiny extra toes that she did her normal ones – and she could use them independently of her normal-sized toes.  In practice, the tiny feet functioned as opposable thumbs. The cat could pick up an object in one paw, turn it over and set it back down, much the same way a person does. She could also carry objects in one paw while she used the other three to walk.

Strange to consider, but just plain creepy when you see it live.

On more than one occasion I saw her go streaking through a room with one paw off the ground. I followed, worried that she’d injured herself, only to see her deposit one or more stolen “treasures” in a corner of the basement that she’d commandeered for that purpose. (For the record, her favorite objects were Lite-Brite pegs and hair ties.) At first I took the stolen objects away, but when she didn’t stop I decided to see what would happen if I left the objects alone.  She amassed quite a collection over time, mostly the aforementioned Lite Brite pegs and hair ties, but also other items that struck her interest – including a ball-point pen.

She never learned to use her “thumbs” to open doors (not that most cats need thumbs for that purpose) but they definitely aided her in a life of petty theft.

Anyone else have thoughts about animals with opposable thumbs? Comments are open…