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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.