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What is a Winged Cat?

Nicole Madison
By
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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Winged cats were first spotted centuries ago, and over the years, many people have thought they could actually fly. Others thought they were merely mythical creatures. The fact is, however, that winged cats really do exist, but they cannot fly and they do not have any kind of magical abilities. Instead, there are scientific reasons that some cats appear to have wings.

A winged cat may appear to have wings because of poor grooming. Especially in longhair cats, improper or infrequent grooming can cause the hair to mat and form what looks like wings. The matted fur hangs from the cat's body, until the cat sheds the whole section and it falls off. Sometimes, however, the matted fur of a winged cat gets caught on something and is actually pulled away instead. When cats with matted fur run, these wing-like sections flap, which may give them the appearance of trying to fly.

Though perhaps less common, a winged cat may actually have extra limbs because of birth defects. In these cats, extra legs are covered with fur and could look like wings. For example, if an extra pair of forelegs is positioned in the shoulder area, they could appear to be wings. However, these so-called winged cats are unable to fly, and their extra limbs are usually useless.

Sometimes a winged cat has abnormally elastic skin. This condition is called feline cutaneous asthenia (FCA), which is a deformity some cats are born with. FCA causes unusually stretchy skin to form on a cat's body, such as on its shoulders and back. It can also appear on a cat's haunches. This extra-elastic skin forms folds that can appear to be wings. However, cats affected by this condition cannot flap these wings or use them to fly.

Though a winged cat with FCA cannot flap its wing-like skin, it can sometimes move it. Sometimes, the folds of skin have muscle fibers in them, which enables the cats to move them. However, they cannot actually flap the wings as birds do because the folds of skin are lacking joints and bones that could make flapping possible.

The extra-elastic skin of a winged cat with feline cutaneous asthenia is very fragile; it can be torn if it comes into contact with anything that is even slightly sharp. In fact, these winged cats sometimes tear their own skin when they are scratching or grooming themselves, but the skin often heals quickly and there is little to no bleeding involved. In other winged cats, however, the tears develop into larger wounds. Often, winged cats with this condition are euthanized because they are so easily injured and typically require significant levels of extra veterinary care and attention at home.

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Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a All Things Nature writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By indigomoth — On Dec 27, 2013

@KoiwiGal - There's a reason that all the winged cats described here are the result of cat diseases or other bad conditions like deformity. It would take a massive leap in evolution for winged cats to appear because they would either have to develop two more limbs, or reshape their existing limbs into wings (not to mention change shape and mass to be lighter).

Most, if not all creatures with spines have only four limbs, including birds and cats. We all evolved from the same ancestors. The fact that there are not any examples of animals with four legs and wings show that it is not something that is very likely to happen.

By KoiwiGal — On Dec 26, 2013

@umbra21 - Life is never that simple. It might be that someone had the time and money to care for a pet when they first got it and then they fell on misfortune. People often don't want to take their animals to a shelter in case they are put down.

I never realized that people thought there might be truth in the winged cat mythology. I mean, if a cat actually had working wings, it would be the ultimate predator. I think if one had developed it would be easy to spot, because they would be all over the place.

By umbra21 — On Dec 26, 2013

It really makes me mad when I see long haired cats that have been allowed to get into bad condition. It can really hurt and damage their skin when the hair forms into mats and it can also be very hot and uncomfortable for them.

If you can't handle the kind of constant grooming that this kind of animal requires, then you should get a short haired cat, or possibly no cat at all.

People think that just because they can afford the daily meals that they can afford to have a cat. But you have to be able to afford taking your cat to the vet as well and all the little extras that will pop up over their lifetime.

It might seem romantic for a cat to have "wings" but in this case it stems from misery and that's just not fair at all.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a All Things Nature writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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