The Adorable Mystery Of Winged Cats

You know how cats almost always land on their feet. But what if cats never fell in the first place? Like, what if cats had wings? While this concept has been portrayed in art for years, it's not an entirely fictional idea.

Yep, sometimes cats have wings ... at least, it looks like they have wings, according to Messy Beast. Cats with wings are an integral part of myths for generations. Sphinxes have wings and a lion's body, and griffins have the body of a lion and an eagle's head and wings. But the idea of a domesticated cat with wings didn't flourish until later. Ripley's wrote that the poet Henry David Thoreau described a cat with long, hairy appendages he poetically called wings.

Of course, over the centuries, more and more reports of winged cats appear, most often than not as hoaxes. PetMD reported scientists in China discovered a cat with what seemed to be wings growing on its back. The cat, a mixed breed, started life typically, but then the fur on its back started growing out in a triangular shape. Discover Magazine said researchers think the cat developed mutations that were caused by the chemicals to which its mother was exposed. They thought it was because the cat lived in one of the most polluted cities in the country.

Cats will only lord it over people if they had real wings

Cats growing wings have a much broader explanation that accidental mutation from toxic environments. There may be medical reasons, wrote Messy Beast. While cats cannot grow wings, if cats don't maintain good grooming, their fur can become so matted that it can grow upward. The matted hair can either hang from the cat's side or stick up. If the cat suffers from hyperthyroidism, they can develop extremely matted fur. Another possible explanation is that the cat has supernumerary limbs or a conjoined twin that never fully developed. When cats have either a supernumerary limb (think of a sixth toe) it can look like something is growing out their backs that's still covered with fur, and even more so if the cat was supposed to have a conjoined twin.

The third possible explanation involves something called feline cutaneous asthenia, a disease related to Ehlers-Danlos syndrome in humans that causes elastic skin. The cat can actively move the skin on their back or shoulders, making it look like they're unfurling wings and moving them. Cats with feline cutaneous asthenia can sometimes develop flaps of skin that are still covered in fur but can be torn off without damage.

So cats don't exactly grow wings; it only appears that way to clueless humans. But that's okay. They still have more lives than we humans anyway.