Saturday, July 16, 2005

Furry mutants roaming free

Back home at Fort Albany, Jeff and I have seen our fair share of alley cats. Most of them are battle-scarred bruisers that look ready to beat me up when we cross paths in the garden. A little rough around the edges, but still pretty much whole.

And here in Singapore there is a fair number of strays haunting the coffeeshops and restaurants, hanging around for some spare morsels to come their way. These aren't bold animals, just cats pussyfooting around, under tables and bushes. From what Jeff and I've seen, stray cats are a pretty common sight on the streets throughout Southeast Asia.

But something's different about these Singaporean cats. Their tails are gone. Clean off. And those cats that do have tails left have little stumps or something weirdly kinked. It's the rare cat that has a full, long tail. And that's been troubling me — what's happening to all the tails? Is something sinister afoot?

My friend Reagan, who's a local, thought it might be part of some neutering campaign to control the stray cat population. That explanation didn't quite add up for me, so I searched (ok, googled) around for another reason.

As luck would have it, this is just another case of good old-fashioned genetic mutation. Turns out that native Singapore cats are of the tailless or bobtailed variety. Their tails come that way!

Whew! That's a relief. I was worried how I was going to explain this one to Kismet and Sabrina.