What are the chances that there would be two four-eared cats, both named Yoda, in Illinois? There must be a Ceiling Cat! Prompted by this week’s announcement of a four-eared cat in Russia (see below), I did some sleuthing and found at least two others. But I should have realized, with the internet and people being what they are, that there would be an entire webpage on four-eared felids. In fact, there are at least two, here and here.
Here’s the first Yoda, rescued from a Chicago bar by Ted and Valerie Rock:
Yoda has a pair of small secondary ears behind the main ones. Malformations like this can, of course, be due to either a mutation or a nongenetic developmental anomaly. The only way to distinguish these is through breeding experiments: mate Yoda to another cat and see if the trait appears in the offspring (a dominant gene) or only in later generations when the offspring are interbred (a recessive gene). Alternatively, if one or more of Yoda’s littermates show the same anomaly, it’s almost certainly genetic. We don’t have this information for the gray Yoda.
Curiously, while the secondary ears are shaped normally, the main ones are rounded; perhaps these are pleiotropic effects of one of the many ear mutations known to occur in cats. Yoda’s front ears resemble those seen in the American Curl bred, which result from a single dominant mutation.
Here’s Yoda with Valerie Rock:
While there appears to be some danger of deafness involved with the appearance of double ears, Yoda’s hearing seems normal.
Here’s a video of Yoda:
Here’s Yoda number two, also from Illinois, and he’s the only one that really looks like the Star Wars character. This guy was rescued from the wild; apparently his mother and several littermates were killed by a wild animal.
Here the secondary ears also appear behind the main ones, but are reversed in direction, facing backward. In this case the cue (either genetic or developmental) for ear development could have been reversed in an anterio-posterior direction.
You can see video of this second Yoda here.
And here’s the new one—Luntnik, who lives in a garage in Vladivostok. Luntik’s vestigial ears are in front of the main ears, and could represent a genetic/developmental event similar to that of Yoda #1, but with a different pair of ears exerting dominance in growth.