Is Pollution in China Causing Cats to Grow "Wings?"

By Allison Bond | May 28, 2009 11:50 am

kittyNo, he’s not Supercat, but apparently a fuzzy feline in the southwest Chinese city of Chongqing began sprouting triangular, fur-covered “wings” out of his back when he was about a year old.

Some speculate the strange growths are the result of a mutation caused by chemicals the cat’s mother was exposed to before giving birth. It’s certainly possible, since the heavily industrialized city of Chongqing is packed with chemical, metal, and automobile factories pumping out acid rain and air pollution. In fact, as of 2004 the city was the second most polluted worldwide. And it’s taking its toll: Environmental authorities suspect chemical contaminations were behind the deaths of thousands of fish in the Fujiang River in Chongqing a few months ago.

Others say the so-called wings are actually growths from an embryo that never completely separated from the cat before birth – in other words, the cat’s, er, Siamese twin.

We’re holding out on a verdict, but one thing’s for sure: There’s no need to keep an eye out for flying kitties. A cat’s heavy bones and muscular body mean that even with wings, there’s no way it can ever take to the sky.

Related Content:
Discoblog: Weird Science Roundup: Fire-Fighting Robots, Tiny Cats, and Crazy Dental Implants
Discoblog: Can’t Touch This: Cockatoo Jams to Techno, Supports Animal Research
DISCOVER: The Ancient Rat as Big as a Bull

Image: China Foto Press/Barcroft Media

MORE ABOUT: cats, china, genetics, pollution
ADVERTISEMENT
NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Discoblog

Quirky, funny, and surprising science news from the edge of the known universe.
ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+