Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Kinky Tails

Scoop's curly tail
Friends from overseas (read: non-Malaysians) are always horrified when they see Scoop's tail looks like a corkscrew, and that Au's short little stubby tail waves at a permanent 45 degree angle.

Local friends don't make it any better because they delight in telling the urban legends that say these cats are victims of animal cruelty.

Depending on who's telling the story, innocent tourists are told a local ethnic group believes cats are so beautiful that they disturb the spirits of the dead if they walk over their graves. To prevent spiritual unrest, the story goes, this group go along breaking cat’s tails at birth.

I’ve heard this superstition being attributed to various Chinese groups, Malaysian Indians, and even Sarawak tribes such as the Iban, so it’s hard to know where exactly this story started. One thing's for sure, the teller always blames someone else!

In case you’re worried: local kitties may look like victims of unusual torture but they are born this way. In fact, it’s a local neighbourhood characteristic.

Malaysian, Singaporean and Thai cats have an odd gene that creates a kinky tail. Some kitties have long tails with a knob or kink at the top; others have a variety of shorter tails sticking out at odd angles.

Scoop’s corkscrew tail is unusually complex, and knowing this our old fuzzy is very proud of it. He curls his tail up when he’s interested in something and down when he’s relaxed. It’s a wonderful barometer indicating his mood.

If you see a cat with a kinky tail in the US or UK, chances are you are looking at a cousin of Scoop or Au’s. Please say apa kabar from us!

3 comments:

sammawow-china cat-willow said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. That is some very interesting information about cat's tails. Both China Cat & I have long straight striped tails so I guess that we're not related but it's very nice to meet new cats anyway!

Willow

Just Sharlene said...

Never heard this one about the cat's tail. Now I know!

beastshawnee said...

My siamese cat (from off a ship docking in New York in 1968) had a corkscrew tailed family. She was the runt and had only a partial twist in her 6 1/2 " long tail. It had 2 permanent bends in it, but her mothers tail made 2 complete loops. She was also very aggressive, and protective of the family, although she bit us all the time also, crouching and attacking our calves, or draped fingers or toes. She lived to the old age of 23 y.o. I loved her so much, and she loved me too.