The Turtle Hospital is housed in the former Hidden Harbor Motel in Marathon, Florida. The Turtle Hospital opened its doors 1986 with four main goals: 1) rehab injured sea turtles and return them to their natural habitat, 2) educate the public through outreach programs and visit local schools, 3) conduct and assist with research aiding to sea turtles (in conjunction with state universities), and 4) work toward environmental legislation making the beaches and water safe and clean for sea turtles.
I love turtles, so I was glad to see The Turtle Hospital exists to help sea turtles in distress. My husband and I visited The Turtle Hospital while visiting Marathon in the Florida Keys.
The Turtle Hospital, 2396 Overseas Highway, was the first state-certified veterinary hospital in the world for sea turtles. Among the threats to sea turtles are monofiliment entanglement, rope and net entanglement, boat hits, oils spills and tar, intestinal impaction from eating debris, such as cigarette filters (which look similar to shrimp) and plastic bags, coastal development that can damge nests and disorients adults and hatchlings from artificial light, and fibropapilloma tumors that result from a virus. Also, turtles also can suffer from extreme cold when they don’t migrate to warmer waters soon enough.
The Turtle Hospital, which is housed in the former Hidden Harbor Motel complex, is funded entirely by donations and tickets sales to visitors, who take a tour. The motel owner Richie Moretti founded The Turtle Hospital. After a hurricane ruined the motel, Moretti decided to dedicate the motel entirely to turtle rescue.
Five species of sea turtles are found in the waters of the Florida Keys: Loggerhead (Caretta caretta), Green (Chelonia mydas), Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), and Kemp’s Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii).
This Kemp’s Ridley turtle is recuperating in a tank in The Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida. Every year Kemp’s Ridley turtles are found cold stunned on New England beaches. Volunteers will look for these cold stunned turtles on the beach and transport them to the New England Aquarium, according to The Turtle Hospital. Once they determine that they are stabilized and ready for transport, they get shipped south. They do not fly commercial, they get volunteer pilots from “Turtles Fly Too!”
Green Turtles that have been hurt in accidents, been damaged from net entanglements, have ingested foreign materials or suffer from diseases are taken care of at The Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida.
I love photographing animals. On a recent trip to Peru, I saw hundreds of dogs, so my camera got a real workout.
We saw many kinds of dogs, including this Peruvian Hairless dog (shown above) posing on a street in Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo), the village at the foot of Machu Picchu. We saw many dogs wearing clothes, but few wearing collars or on leashes. Most wander freely, but seem to have homes or territories they return to. We often saw dogs sitting in the doorways to shops (and sometimes a cat inside) and at the front door of houses.
An ancient breed, the Peruvian Hairless Dog is the national dog of Peru. The dogs were kept as pets during the Inca Empire, but their history goes back even further. Depictions of Peruvian hairless dogs appear around 750 A.D. on ceramic pots and were featured on ceramic vessels in several Peruvian cultures. The Spanish conquest of Peru nearly caused the extinction of the breed. The dogs survived in rural areas, where the people believed that they held a mystical value. There’s a photo of another Peruvian Hairless dog in a shirt in one of the photos below.
Gray-Striped Dog in Cusco, Peru
Photograph by Catherine Sherman
We saw this dog near the main square (Plaza de Armas) of Cusco, often sitting in the grass. Here his coloring blends in with the ancient Inca stonework.
Dog Waiting in Front of Blue Door, Cusco, Peru
Photograph by Catherine Sherman
A chihuahua shows off her fabulous dress as she stands in the doorway of a restaurant in Aguas Calientes, the town at the foot of Machu Picchu. Isn’t she a cute little diva?
A Peruvian Hairless dog, the national dog of Peru, wears a shirt to protect his bare skin. He stands on a walkway along the railroad tracks in Aguas Calientes, the town at the foot of Machu Picchu.
A man and his sportily-dressed dog rest on a street in Lima, Peru.
I think these are police dogs in Lima, Peru. Here they are resting, but a few minutes later they were all awake and standing by the policemen.
Look at this cutie pie on a street in Ollantaytambo, Peru. You can see an example of the ancient Inca stonework in this town, where an Inca emperor had an estate.
Here’s another dog photographer, capturing this dog who has just gotten a drink at a dog watering fountain in Cusco, Peru.
A hairless chihuahua sports a camouflage jacket on a street in Aguas Calientes, the town at the foot of Machu Picchu.
A hairless chihuahua in a camouflage jacket watches a man with a wheelbarrow on a street in Aguas Calientes, Peru, the town at the foot of Machu Picchu. There are no roads to Aguas Calientes, so most goods come in by train and are wheeled around.
Most dogs we met in Peru ignored us, but this dog was friendly and stretched out in a greeting at the entrance to the ruins of Machu Picchu. He didn’t seem to want food, which is good, because I didn’t have any. He was at the entrance both days we went to Machu Picchu.
A man has a German Shepherd on a leash while the puppies obediently follow across a street in Cusco, Peru. You can see another dog lounging inside the shop just beyond.
Dogs meet up on a street in Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley of Peru.
A woman takes her fashionably dressed dog for a walk in Cusco, Peru.
This friendly Shar Pei dog patrols his corner of a market in Ollantaytambo, Peru. The Shar Pei, which originated in China, is considered one of the most rare dog breeds. Its name derives from the Cantonese words “sand skin” and refers to the texture of its short, rough coat. As puppies, Shar Pei have numerous wrinkles, but as they mature, these wrinkles loosen and spread out as they “grow into their skin”. Shar Pei were named in 1978 as one of the world’s rarest dog breeds by TIME magazine and the Guinness World Records. The American Kennel Club did not recognize the breed until 1991.
A dog sits in front of a shop in Ollantaytambo, Peru.
I took the following photographs from our van when we drove from Ollantaytambo to Cusco, so I apologize for the marginal quality. I really could have taken photos of dogs all day, and wished we could have stopped.
A dog waits at a doorway. On the wall and light pole near him are political posters.
A dog in Cusco, Peru.
A little white shaggy dog sits on a sidewalk in Cusco, Peru.
A dog watches cars and trucks go by on the highway from Ollantaytambo to Cusco, Peru. (Taken from my car window.)
Dogs dig in trash bags along a highway near Cusco, Peru.
Not to leave out cats, here is a link to my son and daughter-in-law’s photos of the cat park in the Miraflores District of Lima, Peru. Some of the about 120 cats descend from a pair that city authorities introduced in the late 1990s to control a rat infestation. Others were abandoned. You know you can’t resist clicking on this link!
After watching this mother fox diligently tend to her young, I think she says “I’m exhausted!”
On and off for many years in the Spring, red foxes have made a den in the rocky ledges of friends’ rural backyard in the Kansas City. This year, there are two adults and six kits. A fox family consists of a male and female adult, plus their offspring, although sometimes a female from the previous litter will help. The gender of the second adult in this family wasn’t clear. The kits (also known as pups or cubs) may be about three weeks old in these photographs, taken April 5, 2014. They are gray and roundish, but are quickly turning red like their parents. Last year when I saw young foxes in early May, they already looked like smaller versions of the adults.
The foxes are very active in this rural neighborhood, and my friend Pat has seen all sorts of behavior, including adults carrying prey, burying it in leaves and then retrieving it; carrying tiny kits in their mouths; nursing the kits; and grooming behavior. Earlier, one of the adult foxes spent about two hours screaming as he ran around the area, possibly as a way to announce his territory. The screaming was so loud that neighbors called out of concern that something terrible was happening, Pat said. About Foxes.
Click on a photograph to see a full-size version and begin a slideshow with descriptions.
A mother fox returning to her den is greeted by her hungry kits.
Six fox kits compete for a space at their mother’s nipples.
A mother fox scans the forest as her six kits nurse.
The fox kits wonder where their mother went when she leaves the den for a few minutes on her “break.”
A mother fox nudges one of her kits back to the den.
The fox kits try to hang on as the mother fox leaves to take a break from caretaking.
The mother fox rests a few yards from the den. Occasionally, a kit will wander up to get her attention, but she sends them back to the den.
Her short break over, the mother fox returns to the den.
The kits are getting brave and spending more time outside their den, especially when their mother is there to watch over them.
Another fox adult, possibly the father, joins the family get-together.
The two adults take a break from the children, grooming each other on a rock above the den.
The six kits are back for another meal.
Evening is falling, the fox kits are fed and put to bed in the den, and now the mother heads to a higher rock to rest.
ElephantVoices campaign: EVERY TUSK COSTS A LIFE
This is from a press release from ElephantVoices, which is launching a campaign against the ivory trade. The trade of ivory is causing the slaughter of tens of thousands of elephants every year. Elephant expert and Co-Founder of ElephantVoices, Dr. Joyce Poole, observes, “It is with a sense of déjà vu and deep sorrow, though little surprise, that following the torpedoing of the 1989 ban by the ‘one-off’ sales of ivory stockpiles, we find ourselves living through, and battling against, another elephant massacre.”
Each new tusk on the market means more death, trauma and destruction.
“We are asking people to help us reach out to potential buyers of ivory who don’t realize that elephants are dying in record-high numbers for trinkets and decorations. The only way to stop this wanton slaughter of elephants is to choke demand for ivory and stop the trade,” states Joyce Poole.
ElephantVoices is basing its campaign on two powerful pieces of graphic art by New York artist, Asher Jay. The artworks, with the slogans, EVERY TUSK COSTS A LIFE; DON’T BUY IVORY and EVERY TUSK COSTS A LIFE; STOP THE TRADE, target potential buyers and decision-makers, and are also specifically directed toward a Chinese audience. “ElephantVoices is doing something unique by making the graphic art available online in several versions, so they can be shared on social networks and be used for T-shirts, bumper-stickers, posters and banners”, says Executive Director, Petter Granli.
“We urge people to share these messages far and wide, making them go viral. The poaching is endangering elephants, jeopardizing biodiversity, and threatening tourism, people’s livelihoods and stability in elephant range states. The writing is on the wall for elephants and we must act now”, says Joyce Poole. The two pieces of art shown are avialble to download in several forms.
There are too many people buying ivory in too many countries. The current demand for elephant tusks is unsustainable and is swiftly mining Africa’s elephants. The largest demand is in China and, hence, the Chinese government and her people have a special responsibility for taking a lead to end the decimation of elephants. China was permitted to buy a restricted amount of ivory from stockpiles, a decision by the international community that has caused immense harm to elephants. Ninety percent of the ivory available in China is from slaughtered elephants, illegally sourced, traded and sold. Chinese buyers deserve to know that tens of thousands of elephants are being killed to supply them with ivory. Every tusk costs a life.
China has the ability to raise public awareness and to enforce their strict laws to quickly strangle the trading, buying and poaching. China can stop her countrymen causing the destruction of Africa’s heritage and biodiversity, while concurrently protecting her enormous investments on the African continent. We urge China to take action now to end any trade in ivory – we cannot afford to lose Africa’s keystone species. 中国 Zhōngguó means China. Star power is needed to save Africa’s elephants from extermination.
CLICK ON THE THUMBNAILS TO SEE FULL-SIZE PICTURES AND IVORY SEIZURE MAP
Is this elephant dreaming of the delicious marula fruit as she eats grass at a game reserve in South Africa?
I love fruit, but I’d never heard of marula fruit until a friend (Thanks, Anita!) introduced me to Amarula, a creamy liqueur made in Africa from fermented marula fruit.
Fermented marula fruit makes a delicious drink when mixed with cream for humans in a liqueur called Amarula. Elephants will eat the fermented fruit, but it’s a myth that they’ll get drunk. They couldn’t eat enough to get inebriated. The Amarula Trust promotes Africa elephant protection and social development in Africa. This elephant sculpture is on display at the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Elephants like to eat marula fruit and are Amarula’s symbol. Folklore through the ages told of elephants getting drunk on fermented marula fruit, but that tall tale has been debunked. I don’t want to be a party pooper, but elephants couldn’t eat enough fermented fruit to get bombed. According to a 2006 scientific study cited in Smithsonian Magazine, “Elephants do have a taste for alcohol, but when scientists sat down to look at the claim, they found several problems. First, the elephants don’t eat the rotten fruit off the ground. They eat the fresh fruit right off the tree. Second, the fresh fruit doesn’t spend enough time in the elephant to ferment and produce alcohol there. And, third, even if the elephant did eat the rotten fruit, the animal would have to eat 1,400 pieces of exceptionally fermented fruit to get drunk.” Smithsonian Magazine: The Alcoholics of the Animal World.
Elephants like to eat marula fruit, but much of what elephants eat is not fully digested. Here, some marula nuts have passed through an elephant. The surviving marula fruits might be eaten by other animals or germinate into new trees.
While the elephants don’t get soused from fermented fruits, elephants are among the many species that enjoy the versatile marula fruit for its flesh and its nut, which is full of protein. The marula fruit and its nut have been important source of nutrition in Africa for eons. The fruit has eight times the Vitamin C of an orange, too. Among the animals that eat the marula fruit and nut are antelopes, including impalas, kudus and nyalas. Baboons, warthogs, zebras, porcupines, vervet monkeys, small mammals and even millipedes also feed on the marula, which belongs to the same plant family Anacardiaceae as the mango, cashew, pistachio and sumac. Browsing animals eat the leaves. Marula nut oil is also supposed to have rejuvenating effect on your skin, so the marula can give you a glow both inside and out. About the Marula Tree and Fruit.About Marula Oil for Your Skin.
While reading this post I recommend an Amarula cocktail, which has a mild creamy citrus flavor. If you can’t find Amarula, you can sip Bailey’s Irish Cream or Kahlua. Drink responsibly, of course!
Here’s My Recipe for a Wild Elephant, which is really a White Russia, replacing the Kahlua with Amarula:
2 oz vodka
1 oz Amarula liqueur
Pour vodka and Amarula liqueur over ice cubes in an old-fashioned glass. Fill with light cream and serve.
For other recipes. click on Cocktail Recipes.
In a game reserve in South Africa, baboons congregate in and under a marula tree to eat the marula fruit. Impala antelope stand under the tree to eat the dropped fruit. Click on the photo to get a better view.
The long-time belief that elephants and other animals get drunk on fermented marula fruit was popularized in the 1974 documentary “Animals are Beautiful People.” Some smaller animals can get drunk from fermented fruit, but people have claimed that the supposedly drunkenness of the animals from fermented marula was staged in the movie, after alcohol had been added to their food. If so, that’s animal abuse. The narration is over the top, too, but the video does show the types of animals that eat the marula fruit. It also shows elephants shaking marula trees to knock down the fruit. Scientific American: Do Animals Like to Get Drunk? Drunken Elephants: The Marula Fruit Myth About “Animals are Beautiful People.”
The marula fruit on this tree will turn yellow when ripe.
Owls don’t eat marula fruits, of course, but the branches make a handy perch. Perhaps some unsuspecting creature looking for fruit may become the owl’s dinner.
Marula fruit is washed along with sand over a walkway after a rainy night at the game reserve lodge where we stayed in January 2013.
Gourds form the heads of these prize-winning scarecrows at the Kansas State Fair, September 2012. The scarecrows are modeled after artist Grant Wood’s famous painting, “American Gothic.”
I’ve lived in Kansas most of my life, but this is the first year I’ve visited the Kansas State Fair, which happened to be the 100th fair. My daughter-in-law has visited with her family every year since she was a small child, and she and her family always find new things to see and do. I barely scratched the surface. As the fair motto goes: The Fair “Never Gets Old.”
Here’s fair fare — a carrot cake funnel cake on the top and a corn dog on the bottom — at the Kansas State Fair, September 2012.
According to the website, the fair’s mission is “to promote and showcase Kansas agriculture, industry and culture, to create opportunity for commercial activity, and to provide an educational and entertaining experience that is the pride of all Kansans.”
More than 350,000 people from all 105 Kansas counties and several other states visit the fair each year, which begins the Friday following Labor Day and lasts for 10 days at the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson. Many thousands of those visitors seemed to be there the day we visited, the first Saturday. It was busy! There are more than a thousand commercial vendors, including those wonderful funnel cake and corn dog stands. There are about 30,000 entries in various competitions. There are lots of musical acts from local to national, including “Boston” and “Heart.” I didn’t see any concerts, unfortunately, but I did try some carrot cake funnel cake. Delicious!
So many happy people and happy animals at the Adoptathon at Wayside Waifs in Kansas City, Missouri! Now, we absolutely, positively need to find a home for Virginia!
Most cats and kittens at Wayside Waifs find a home within a week or two of being made available for adoption, but Virginia hasn’t found a family yet. Life at Wayside Waifs is pretty plush, but it doesn’t take the place of a “furr-ever” home. Here’s what I wrote about Virginia previously. “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus…”
In the top photograph, Grace (left) stops to gossip with Virginia (on the chair) about the newest feline residents at Wayside Waifs. In the bottom photograph, Virginia waits at the door, hoping her "fur-ever" family will finally appear.
This is a slideshow of cats at the emergency tornado shelter annex in the care of the Joplin, Missouri, Humane Society. As of June 3, 2011, nearly 1,000 pets had been rescued and almost 300 had been reunited with their families. The shelter is caring for animals whose families are currently unable to house them along with those animals who are missing from or have lost their families.
In Joplin on May 22, a powerful EF5 tornado killed at least 138 people and injured more than 900 people, some critically. It also destroyed or damaged about 18,000 vehicles, more than 8,000 homes and 500 commercial properties, which was about 30 percent of the town. Among the buildings damaged was a hospital that employed 1,700 people. The tornado was the deadliest single tornado in more than sixty years in the United States.
The YouTube slideshow above includes photos published by Joplin Humane Society on June 1 to give the public an inside view of the facility’s cattery section. Thanks to Life With Cats TV for the information. For links on how you can donate click on Joplin Tornado Cats.
Wayside Waifs is a Kansas City, Missouri, no-kill animal shelter. Staff members and volunteers from Wayside Waifs helped with the animal rescue and brought some of the animals who had already awaited homes in Joplin before the tornado to the Wayside Waifs shelter.
On June 1, the Joplin Humane Society director detailed the massive operation that took place. Below are excerpts from that letter. Many of the people helping were also dealing with the loss of family members and their homes and businesses.
“I can’t thank everyone enough for their offers to help and words of
encouragement. Many of you have offered assistance and asked what you can
do. Here’s an update:
Our shelter was not hit and we are intact. The ASPCA (I will refer them
here on out as the A) had their emergency response team on the ground THE
NEXT MORNING! One of JHS’s benefactors owns the property next door and
there are three empty warehouses. I called them and they were more than
willing to allow the use of those warehouses…
We just put the third warehouse into use to house the animals. There are pictures up on our facebook page which can be found by going to our website:
At my and the A’s request, American Humane Association (AHA) deployed a team to help us out at the emergency shelter and at JHS so my staff can rotate a
day off. HSUS teams are also here at our request. PETPOINT sent a team out
immediately and they are taking care of all of the documentation of the
almost 600 animals we have received since Monday. We are at real time in
putting pictures up on our website. I’m guessing it will hit 600 today. We
have reunited more than 150 pets with their families.
Petsmart Charities sent two tractor trailer loads of supplies and equipment
so the emergency shelter could be set up and we are prepared to handle up to
1200 animals. We have everything from goldfish, hermit crabs, birds, boas,
33 chickens, rabbits, you name it!
We called regional shelters to empty the JHS (Joplin Humane Society) shelter
of adoptable animals so we could use ours for tornado victims. The triage
center is at JHS and we have had an army of volunteer vets taking care of
injured animals. JHS is also the hospital ward.
We are contracted with 17 municipalities and already intake about 12,000
animals each year so the surrounding areas keep bringing in more animals who
are not tornado animals. We are continuing to send them out to other
shelters as their stray hold expires.
We are so grateful to all of the national groups that have responded, all
the local groups who have helped, the food and supply companies that have
equipped the operations and all of the wonderful people who have offered and
actually come in to help. We are humbled and so appreciative.
I think we have enough supplies at the moment. Truckloads of food have
arrived along with sheltering supplies and droves of volunteers. We are
opening a food and supply bank for families affected by the tornado. What
we need now is money for medical supplies and equipment.
Some wonderful, anonymous person sent a swamp cooler for the warehouse.
That was met with applause as the warehouses are heating up. We have lots of
industrial fans but warm air is warm air.”
The director, who lost a step-daughter to the tornado, asked “So many in Joplin have lost so much. If you pray, please
pray for them.”
June 17, 2011, update on status of animals at the Joplin Humane Society, from the AP:
900 pets still homeless after Joplin tornado
By ALAN SCHER ZAGIER and JIM SALTER
The Associated Press, June 17, 2011
JOPLIN, Mo. | Hundreds of dogs and cats peer out from their cages at the Joplin Humane Society, some with cuts, infections and broken bones from the deadly tornado that turned their lives, like those of their owners, upside down.
Since the tornado, the Humane Society has found itself overflowing with animals, with about 900 now calling the shelter home — three times its usual inventory. One way or another, the pets became separated from their owners in the chaotic aftermath of the May 22 twister that tore through this town, killing 153 people. In some cases, the owners — scrambling to find housing for themselves after 7,000 homes were destroyed, leaving nearly one-third of the city’s 50,000 residents homeless — have simply given up their pets.
But the Joplin Humane Society is determined to find a home for every cat and dog. To that end, it plans an “Adopt-a-thon” the weekend of June 25-26, when animals that haven’t been claimed by their owners will be given away free to good homes, after being spayed and neutered.
“The reality is, a lot of these people aren’t in a position to come get these animals,” said Joplin native Tim Rickey, a field investigator for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “They’ve lost everything.”
Executive director Karen Aquino said it’s not that the Humane Society hasn’t tried to find the owners.
“We feel we’ve exhausted every avenue to get the word out,” Aquino said. “We’ve placed 250 yard signs. We have posters at food and donation distribution points, public service announcements on radio and TV, ads in the newspaper — everything we could think of to let people know their pets might be here if they’re missing.”
To handle the additional cats and dogs, the organization fixed up two vacant warehouses next to the shelter into air-conditioned kennels. A gravel parking lot outside a former used appliance store has been converted into an owner’s waiting room, with plastic chairs and Polaroid snapshots of unnamed animals stuffed into thick three-ring binders.
Aquino said none of the pets left homeless by the tornado will be euthanized.
“If all of them aren’t adopted, we’ll start looking to rescue organizations and ways to get some of them to larger cities, where they have a better chance at adoption,” she said.
More than 100 volunteers from across the country, many from other shelters, are in Joplin helping out — cleaning cages, providing veterinary care and exercising the animals. On most days, a half-dozen veterinarians are at the shelter tending to the wounded.
The work is exhausting, the plight of the animals sad. But spirits are buoyed by good news, such as the recent story of a cat found alive by its owner 16 days after the tornado.
“We’ve heard some amazing stories,” Aquino said. “Animals are pretty resilient.”
When Steven and Debbie Leatherman found their lost dog, Sugar, at the shelter, her back legs were paralyzed. Someone had apparently dropped off the 10-year-old cocker spaniel after finding her in a drainage ditch and about to drown. The University of Missouri said the Leathermans’ son, Daniel, drove the dog to its veterinary hospital in Columbia, where veterinarians performed spinal surgery that gave Sugar back the use of her legs.
But some owners, such as 47-year-old Linda Head, still haven’t been able to find their pets. Since the storm, Head has been looking for 2-year-old Isabel, a Labrador/Great Pyrenees mix, and 5-year-old Puddles, a cockapoo.
Both dogs hunkered down with Head, her 23-year-old son and a third dog, Max, in and around a bathtub in their home that was obliterated by the tornado. Head lost Puddles when the dog jumped through the shattered window of a car as Head’s son was driven to seek medical care. Max also jumped out in the tumult, but he turned up nearly two weeks later at a Kansas veterinarian’s office. Isabel hasn’t been seen since the tornado, though Head’s hopes were briefly buoyed when a neighbor thought he saw the dog running loose. He was mistaken.
Head visits the shelter twice a week, hoping her dogs will turn up.
“Honey, when I left here the first time, I bawled all the way home,” Head said during a recent visit to the shelter. “I’ll bawl all the way home today, because I don’t have my buddies.”
Rizzie is a polydactyl cat, available for adoption at Wayside Waifs, a Kansas City no-kill animal shelter. She has an extra toe on each of her front paws, giving them a mitten appearance. Her extra toes are not very noticeable unless you look closely. Sailors favored cats with extra toes because they were thought to be more nimble, better able to climb and excellent hunters of rats on the ship.
The first time I ever saw six-toed cats was on a visit to the Ernest Hemingway House in Key West, Florida. More than fifty cats roam the Hemingway estate, about half of them with six toes on each front paw, all descendants from Hemingway’s first six-toed cat. Cats normally have five toes on each front paw and four on each back paw. There are many variations of polydactylism in cats, which you can read about in the link below. The record is 28 total toes! Normal is eighteen.
Rizzie's front paw shows the mitten shape of a polydactyl cat -- a cat with an extra toe.
A ship’s captain gave a six-toed cat to Hemingway, who became one of the more famous lovers of polydactyl cats. After Hemingway died in 1961, his former home in Key West became a museum and a home for his cats. Because of his love for these animals, “Hemingway cat”, or simply “Hemingway”, is a slang term used to describe polydactyls. There are also official breeds of polydactyl cats, including the American Polydactyl Cat and the Maine Coon Polydactyl. Polydactyl cats are very common in the Cardigan area of Wales, where they are known as “Cardi-Cats.”
According to Wikipedia, polydactylism seems to be most commonly found in cats along the East Coast of the United States and in South West England. The most common variety of the trait spread widely as a result of cats carried on ships originating in Boston. (The polydactyl cats must have gotten a weekend pass and fraternized with the local cats…) Sailors valued polydactyl cats for their superior climbing skills and for their extraordinary abilities to hunt shipboard rats. Some sailors also considered them to be extremely good luck when at sea.
Anne Boleyn was reputed to have a sixth finger, but detractors may have created that rumor, because polydactylism was supposed to be a trait of witches. But the only thing witch-like about polydactyl cats is that they will bewitch you!
Virginia, an eight-year-old stray Calico cat, is looking for a home.
I visited Wayside Waifs the day after Christmas — Boxing Day. I’d hoped that someone would have gently placed Virginia in a gift box (with air holes, of course) and taken her to her forever home for Christmas, but she was still there. She’s a big, beautiful Calico cat who was found as a stray. Sadly, no one has come looking for her. She’s very sweet, though a bit shy. I was happy today to see that Virginia is the featured Feline Waif of the Week at Wayside Waifs!
Santa is still on his way, Virginia. Santa, if you need directions, Wayside Waifs is at 3901 Martha Truman Road, Kansas City, MO 64137, 816-761-8151. (Santy Claws, featured in my previous post, found a forever home. Hurrah! Or, maybe I should say, Ho, Ho, Ho!)
I hope Santa is on his way with a forever home, Virginia!