FELINE MEDICAL CURIOSITIES: THE TAIL
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TAILLESS AND BOBTAILED CATS
The best known mutant form of tail is the Manx cat from the Isle of Man (sometimes erroneously called the Minx by those unfamiliar with geography) and it's long-haired relative, the Cymric. The preferred form of Manx entirely lacks a tail; though Manxes range from tailless, through bobtailed and stumpy-tailed forms to almost full-tailed forms. An entirely different mutation causes the various bobtailed breeds found throughout Asia. Other bobtailed cats have occurred, and have become breeds, in America. Curly tailed cats have occurred throughout history, but have only recently found favour as a breed. All of these are described and illustrated at Tailless, Bobtailed and Curly-Tailed Cats. The Manx and Bobtailed breeds are sometimes misidentified as cabbits (a genetically impossible cat-rabbit hybrid detailed at Cabbits)
TAILLESS AND BOBTAILED CATSA gallery of curly tailed cats is at Curly-Tailed Cats.
Information on the mythical cabbit can be found at Cabbits Most are due to a mutation that affects the spine and tail coupled with a reduction in the amount of loose skin on the belly, making the hind legs look abnormally long. The tail, if present, resembles a rabbit's scut.
Anlina Sheng's cat, Violet, has a stubby foot and shortened, thick tail. The tail may be a genetic trait as Violet's ancestry is unknown (Scottish Folds sometimes have this trait) while the foot appears to be a congenital condition. Violet was adopted from a shelter aged 8 months old and had a brother and a sister, both normal. Her left foot has a central pad which points straight downward from her leg, rather than being angled toward the back of the foot when at rest. She has some small tufts of greyish fur interspersed between a couple of partially formed toe pads, and the metatarsus on that leg is both slightly shorter and slimmer toward the end of the bones. She's fully mobile and walks, runs and jumps without a problem. She does have a slightly bowlegged gait to her hind quarters. The lack of toes and claws on the one foot makes climbing slightly more difficult for her, but she manages quite well in most situations.
Her tail is about 6 inches long and quite thick and stiff. She can move it and bend it, but it doesn't have the same supple range of motion that other cats' tails do. The vertebrae in her tail are much thicker than in other cats, probably about 50% thicker than most cats' tails. compared to my other cat who is the same size as her.
There are several records of cats with double tails and double-tailed cats are believed to be unlucky in most of Asia as they are demons in disguise and will steal a person's spirit. According to Japanese myth, they can take the shape of a woman but are always recognisable because of the two tails which they attempt to keep hidden.
This image is an artist's impression.
CANADIAN TWO TAILED CAT
The following possible case of two tails may be due to Feline Cutaneous Asthenia, the condition that causes winged cats due to unusual elasticity of the skin and a tendency for it to form long flaps. It hasn’t been possible to handle the cat or confirm the cause. Cam (Skipper Bartlett) sent several photos of a neighbourhood stray that appeared to have 2 tails. It has been seen a few times in August 2007, early in the morning, in Brantford, Ontario (about 100 miles SW of Toronto). The cat’s gender wasn’t known and it was timid, possibly due to harassment by local children, and had a visible skin condition. The second “tail” hung down limply and was non-functional. It may be possible that the cat had a second tail due to a developmental abnormality. It might be an elongated flap of skin attached to the rump rather than to the side or it could be an unusually long section of matted fur.
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BOOKS ABOUT ANOMALIES
If you are interested in medical curiosities, books worth reading are "Mutants: on the Form, Varieties and Errors of the Human Body" by Armand Marie Leroi and "Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine Vols 1 and 2" by George M. Gould & Walter L. Pyle. The Gould & Pyle books were published in 1896 and are in the public domain. You can download text-only versions of Gould & Pyle from several websites so don't waste money on text-only versions of the book; but if you want the versions with photos, consider the Kessinger editions. The Leroi book explains why and how some deformities and anomalies happen - the mechanism is the same in cats as it is in humans.
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