It’s still a matter of question whether the Tunceli winged cat counts as a cryptid, but recently the creature got quite a bit of attention when the creature’s French owner posted videos of it over the internet. The cat not only has two eyes, two ears, four paws, and dozens of whiskers. It also has wings. And while you won’t likely see flying cats in your neighborhood, this creature is purring up trouble in the field of cryptozoology.
Wings in cats are not common by any means, but they’re also not entirely unheard of. Animals with extra or cojnoined limbs can sometimes have them in the back or other parts of the body making it look like they have wings. Supernumarary limbs such as legs sticking out from the sides of the back can be perfectly natural feeling for the cats, and even be prehensile allowing them to raise and lower these wings at will, but they will not allow them to fly. Of course with the way cats jump, flying is the last thing birds and squirrels would want.
There are other conditions, such as matted fur in long haired cats that create superfluous appendages that look like wings, but they’re not necessarily able to move on their own. Neither are they truly appendages as simply cutting the fur is not actually removing anything more than a particularly large clump of hair. They do, however, occasionally gain attention because when they are found on either side of the cat’s body they look exactly like small wings.
In 1842, Henry David Thoreau, author of Walden and longtime story teller and collector of facts and anecdotes discovered a cat with wings while visiting a friend. Despite having large wings on either side of its back, the cat was still able to hunt for food in the woods nearby and even found itself leading a long life full of travel. Similar creatures were reported in the early parts of the 20th century throughout Europe. Initially the condition was blamed on toxicity in waters and the runoff from industrial waste products. But soon enough it was discovered it could happen anywhere, and not just in places that ran the risk of being contaminated.
So while the creatures are seen as largely coming as a result of conventional matting of fur and occasionally superfluous limbs, the winged cat is a symbol to the strange and unexplainable world we live in every day. These creatures are seen as having a stake in the culture, and are the source of much story telling and many legends even if they can be explained.
And in the mean time these limbs remain a symbol of the mystical nature of these creatures that have throughout history been a companion to magicians and witches and a terror to mice and upholstery. If they would ever actually acquire the power of flight, no shelf would be safe.