Caturday felid: a mutant!

November 14, 2009 • 4:59 am

Loyal reader “articulett” sent in a photo of his/her cat, a newly-adopted stray that harbors a well-known mutation. Here’s articulett’s story of the mutant moggie:

I arrived home late from work last Friday, and as I pulled into my driveway, I noticed a strange cat. He didn’t dash away as most strange cats did. Instead he sauntered over to my car as if to say, “It’s about time you got home”. It was then I noticed his curly ears. I had never seen such a mutation. I knew about the “Scottish Fold”, but their ears bent forward; these curled back. I figured that if I gave him some food, maybe he’d stick around for me to study him, but he had bolder plans. He walked right into my home where an effusive dog and a couple of spoiled house-cats lived. He listened patiently to their complaints and smacked the dog on the nose when she got too close. His attitude seemed to be “I’m here–I have queer ears–get used to it.”

I did a little internet searching, and it turns out that there is a type of cat with curled ears called an “American Curl”. This particular American Curl had no collar and hasn’t shown any inclination to leave. In fact, he seems to have installed himself as the “King of Beasts” in my home, and the other occupants are to too flummoxed to protest. His ears give him a teddy-bearish/ocelot look which constantly makes me giggle–at some angles they look like horns, and at others they give the “hollow mask illusion” where it’s hard to tell which part pokes in and which part sticks out.. I adore felines and mutants, so this serendipity-kitty is right up my alley. What’s not to love? (I’ve been avoiding reading the lost ads, because I’m afraid he might be someone’s pet, and I’ve grown very attached to him. — Besides, he’s convinced he lives at my home.)


Perhaps readers would like to suggest a name? Articulett wanted to avoid “Curly,” of Three Stooges fame, as the name is too obvious. I thought that “Jerry” might be appropriate given that Curly Howard’s real name was Jerome Lester “Jerry” Horwitz. I’ll offer a free autographed copy of WEIT to any reader’s suggestion that is actually adopted by articulett. (Note: there’s no guarantee that he/she will adopt any of the suggestions.)

See here for more information on the American Curl breed, which stems from a single autosomal dominant mutation that arose in 1981.

54 thoughts on “Caturday felid: a mutant!

    1. Wow… a famous comic cat that is an American Curl– who knew? I learn so much from reading this blog. Two weeks ago I didn’t know “American Curls” existed (and I have a Masters Degree in Biology!) Now, it turns out that there’s one that has his own blog.

      Of course, I’ve recently learned what a fossa and a quoll are, so the internet is giving me a hint at how vast my ignorance is. (I believe it was this site where I saw my first chevrotain too.)

      1. a fossa and a quoll

        Ooo, those are both good.
        let’s see, best animal/name combos…
        grex (pretty obscure)
        (yes I am a herpetologist…)

  1. A cat with that much brass should be called “My Liege”. Or “Bunny” as a goof on his ears and his demeanor.

  2. Sorry.. I can’t help but think someone, somewhere is crushed by the loss of their beautiful, loving pet.

    Every attempt at returning it should be made.

      1. We don’t know that they didn’t have him chipped. The story doesn’t mention anything about whether or not the finder had the cat checked for chips or not. The cat may very well have a chip that could identify the owner, if only he were taken to the vet to have it read.

    1. I think (hope) the author was being facetious about avoiding the lost and found pages. As much as I’d be tempted to keep this kick-ass cat all to myself, it’s only fair to check the newspaper and cragslist first before his new family gives him a name.

      1. Rest assured, I have checked the lost and found as well as the cats-for-sale to see if there were any American Curl breeders in my area. He may have gotten into a moving van or other vehicle and come from afar, but no-one is advertising that they lost such a cat in my rather large city.

        The cat is able to come and go as he pleases through a cat door. He’s left for a few hours a couple of times and then returned and stayed in-doors for a few days. He’s an unfixed male, so the person who owned him, didn’t neuter him. I think I’ll change that, and check to see if he’s micro-chipped in the process. All my pets are neutered, chipped, and have collars (except for a couple of feral cats I feed.) At first I thought he was a new feral, but then he appeared aggrieved when I didn’t assume he wanted to come inside. He’s too friendly to be feral.

        A lot of pets have been abandoned with this housing crisis, and it’s possible that someone purposefully left him in my driveway knowing that I couldn’t resist him. Also, there are a lot of elderly people in my neighborhood who pass on leaving pets behind.

        Here’s the question I have. Do you think it’s right to fix him? I’ve had him just over a week; should I give it more time? He looks like he’s just come of age for breeding, and half his offspring are likely to carry his curly eared genes.

        He doesn’t spray inside, which is good, and he doesn’t seem to be terribly interested in roaming or fighting, but it feels irresponsible to “own” an unneutered can… especially with feral cats of unknown gender hanging about.

      2. What have you done pro-actively to find the owners? Looking for someone’s ad saying they lost their cat (if you in fact have done that)is enough for you?

      3. With such a rare breed, have you considered breeding him? You may not be set up for something like that but this cat seems special.

      4. Yes, I’ve thought of breeding him… I joke about having visions of Punnet Squares dancing in my head–

        *Let’s see, if I find a nice polydactyl lady cat, their offspring will have a 3/4 chance of having at least one mutation and a 1 in 4 chance of being a DOUBLE MUTANT–with funny ears and oven-mitt paws!

        On the other hand, there are too many unwanted cats…

        …But what if I neuter a cat someone else planned to breed and then his owner shows up?

        …But if I don’t fix him he’ll wander and fight and impregnate the feral cats. If the resulting kittens aren’t socialized between 6 and 8 weeks, they will stay feral, and feral cats have very rough short lives. For all I know, this has already occurred with him.

      5. I vote for fixing him. He’s likely to impregnate other cats during his nightly strolls. There are enough cats in need of a home to justify ending his genetic line, as intriguing as it might be to walk a few miles in Gregor Mendel’s sandals.

      6. Do you think it’s right to fix him?

        Yes, and please, any ferals you are feeding. It’s seriously the right thing to do for all concerned. IMO.

      7. If you’re going to keep him, he should be neutered, but I’d wait a couple of weeks just in case the original owner shows up. I’d also bring him into the vet anyway for a checkup; if he is feral, you never know if there’s something that might cause problems for your other cats. You can check for a chip then.

        Carlos- No one will breed him with their American Curl without a pedigree.

  3. You might keep him separate for now as a lot of strays carry FIV or feline leukemia which are incurable and highly contagious….

    He is very handsome however…

  4. Hmmm.
    How about Huxley, after the bulldog himself?
    Either that, or Pascal, which always seemed like a nice pet name to me.

  5. Hi, Jerry. Sorry to post something off-topic here, but I have an important issue. (Perhaps it is a lack of persistence on my part, but I am unable to find any other contact method for you.)

    I am a part of the Maine Atheist Campaign. The goal I have set up is based off the atheist bus campaigns – get the atheist message in the public’s eye, basically. This is an informal project, so there are no funds for something like ads, but there is an alternative plan of action: letters to the editor. I am encouraging atheists to write letters espousing the virtues of atheism (or, rather, the pragmatic reason which leads to atheism) while also, if they choose, taking religion down a notch.

    I am hoping you can make a bit of a fuss about this. There’s obviously no need for this campaign to be limited to Maine, so someone with a wider reach than what I have can promote this without much apology to any specifics.

    1. indeed worth the read, the upshot:

      In this sense, we can assert that the basic tenets of evolutionary psychology are “true” with the same confidence that Coyne asserts the truth of evolution.,

      and indeed well worth Coyne’s consideration and reflection.

      Having an inner fish either implies something about us, and the way we think about ourselves or it doesn’t.

      Pinker’s “The Blank Slate” (pinker is credited as having input to this review), is in part about a lot of the problems of the “world view” of modern liberal academia (and if you are a biologist, who entered university in the 70’s on, you were exposed to a lot of these “myths”) – and it is hard to see around them when grappling with your own world view.

  6. Sweetcorn (referring to a ear of corn and that sweetcorn results from a naturally-occurring recessive MUTATION).

    Continuing with the corn theme, Amaizing is another possibility. His nick could be Zing.

    A less charming name would be Bent.

  7. I was gonna say Lucifer, too. Or Luficer. But you better be careful or the real Lucifer might get mad and send you to hell. My wife votes for “Jerome Lester Horowitz.” Which is actually kind of a great name for a cat. JLH for short. Or J-Ho.

  8. We had a cat who moved in with us, not quite as agressively, but nearly. We noticed him hanging around our house, and both my father and I mistook him in twilight for one of our dogs, since he had the same brown-and-white coloring.

    We named him Perro to memorialize our error.

    Before long we let him move into the garage and fed him, and I mad attempts to introduce him to our dogs, who remained resolutely speciesist. Then I took the screens off my bedroom windom and let him come in at night to sleep with me. He had issues, I suppose, because he needed to knead me, purring, before he’d settle down.

    One night I woke up with all three dogs at my throat and the cat behind my head in a standoff. I threw the cat out the window, shut the dogs out of my bedroom, and went back to sleep. The next morning I noticed a sizeable bloodstain on the sheets. I checked myself – intact- and the dogs – the same – and eventually the cat – nothing. My surmise is that the cat brought me an offering and perhaps one of the dogs made off with the prize.

    At length the cat despaired of my pussyfooting and moved into the house, defying the dogs and eventually made himself dominant among the carnivores. The cat had a thing for cantaloupe and would chase you around the house while you ate it, or paw the pulp around in the sink. (One of the dogs had a taste for hibiscus and would delicately pluck the blossoms off the bush. She also loved to tear the skin off tennis balls, the memory of the sound of which still sends chills up my spine.)

    Pets of my parents: Genetics, Bark, Brunhilda, Guru, Rojo, Yeti, Osa, Perro*. Of my siblings: Sine, Tangent, Gaia, Luna; Noir*, Jemima, Nigel, Bella, Martini; Betty, Max, Rusty, Maggy.

    *Cats. Aside from Henrietta, Hunky and Horco I don’t remember the names of the rats.

    1. Good sleuthing… cats are known to bring presents to their owners(however, I notice you didn’t consider the possibility that the blood was the result of an alien probe in which your memory was erased.)

      Your story (or maybe it’s your avatar) reminds me of my own cat misidentification tale.

      At dusk one evening I saw a small ball of fur run across my path and behind a parked car. I eagerly chased after the cute little kitten and was just about to reach for where I thought the ball of fluff was when an oncoming car shone (shined?) it’s headlight where I was reaching and lit up the “kitten”. It was no kitten at all. It was a giant horrid looking possum! (Insert “Psycho” music to understand the full effect it had on me.)

      I know it’s not nice to loathe animals because they lack cute-appeal– and I don’t really loathe possums (even though they look like giant pointy-teethed rats with horrid naked tails); I know they’re marsupials, and I later humanely removed a few that had moved into my home (surprisingly, they love cat food!)

      I also actually like rats. They laugh when you tickle them:

      I let a child name my cat once– he named her Hideous… “Hideous-Kitty-us”. I think he liked the rhyme. (I wanted to name her “Intrepid”, but I needed some bribery fodder at the time, so Hideous it was.)

    2. Urgh! Your mention of peeling tennis balls reminded me of our American Staffordshire Terrier, Sheba, who would do the same thing. Lots of sulching as she softened up the fabric with generous slobber, then the soft ri-ri-ri-rip as it was tugged off the ball. Ech. As memorable as finding one such liberated piece of hide, still very damp, but long cold, by virtue of nocturnal barefoot transit. (Then again, with either cats or dogs, barefoot travel is always a gamble.)

      As for names, perhaps a more exotic name for curls? How about Bezier?

  9. I’m leaning towards Mr Mistoffolees for it’s literary value…

    And I think I’m going to get him neutered next week if I haven’t heard from any owners. I’ll check to see if he’s micro-chipped at that time.

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