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Kitty Star of the Week for April 10 - 16, 2005

Five toes is our star and she has quite a tale...

Five Toes -- A Brief Bio
by Candy Whittington

Odd-sized eyes. Anopthalmia. Duplicated Ears. Kittens being born with two-heads or with two-faces -- even at times being born conjoined. All of these are just some of the medical abnormalities that some cats have been born with. When these cats are born with these conditions, sometimes they will only live for a few minutes, but some have been known to live a very long life. In the cases of medical abnormalities in cats, it has only been known that kittens are only born with one abnormality at a time. There has never been a record of a kitten or a cat being born with two different abnormalities, until now. A case of one such cat recently turned up in the small town of Dobson, North Carolina in the countryside of one of the farming communities.

In late December of 2004, a woman by the name of Delores Whittington was talking on the phone when she noticed something strange and unusual about her pet cat named, Five Toes (aptly named for the fact that she is a polydactyl cat).

"I was talking to someone on the phone when I heard Five Toes meowing up on top of the refrigator," said Delores. "I looked up and the next thing that I knew, these two tongues came out of her mouth. It was quite shocking to see."

Thinking that she had hurt herself, Delores and her husband, truck driver William Whittington, rushed the cat to a Dr. Renfrow Hauser, a veterinarian located in Mt. Airy, North Carolina. The vet didn't know what to think when Delores told him what she had seen. This was something that he had never heard of before in a cat. He examined Five Toes and proclaimed her to be a very healthy cat, and then he wanted to see the two tongues for himself. He touched the end of her nose and watched her flick out not one, but two tongues at the same time. Seeing her do this came as quite a shock to Dr. Renfrow that he didn't even charge for the vet visit.

"It was shocking when I first saw it, too," William said to friends and co-workers. "I mean in the middle of the night I woke up and on my way to the bathroom, I saw Five Toes licking herself with her two tongues. This was a very bizarre and eerie sight to see especially in the dark."

William told his co-workers at the trucking company about Five Toes and nobody believed him at first until they saw it for themselves. Their comments along with others who have seen this cat range from, "Quite bizarre," to "Strange," to "Devil cat," to sometimes saying nothing at all (at least not until the initial shock wears off). Even Mt. Airy newspaper reporter, Ricky Allen, was stunned and amazed when he did a news story about this cat, and his editor even put the story on the second page of the Sunday edition of the newspaper.

"It is always amazing to see her use both of her tongues," Delores commented, "but what I don't understand is how she kept it a secret for four years."

When Five Toes was born four years ago, she never showed signs of not being able to eat or having trouble breathing. She grew up quite normally with the exception of the fifth extra toe and the two tongues. Her parents were never born with polydactylism nor were her littermates born with any strange or unusual medical abnormality.

"I guess it's because both two tongues are the same size is the reason that she hid it so well," believes Delores. "It's probably the reason why she never had any problems in learning to use both tongues so quickly."

Five Toes can use both her tongues either at the same time or separately to lick herself, to eat, or to drink. So, it makes it hard to tell which one is the dominant tongue in each case.

"She uses both so well," said William, "but she always likes to use both tongues separately now that we know about it."

Recently, Five Toes has been profiled in a Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Comic strip as well as on two websites, one about medical abnormalities in cats hosted by Sarah Hartwell and on a Funny Feline Photo Gallery hosted by Cleo and her crew. Even Gary Bell, a local photographer out of Pilot Mountain, North Carolina, has recently become the cat's exclusive photographer. He was so amazed by this cat that he even didn't charge for taking professional photos of her showing off her two tongues.

When asked what it is like living with an unusual cat such as this, Delores just had this to say. "It was weird at first. I mean whenever she licked herself or ate you would see this two tongues come out," Delores said. "It shocked me and my husband to see her do this. Of course, now we're used to it and it doesn't shock us at all any more."

"We don't know what the future holds for Five Toes, but I predict only good things ahead for her," Delores said as she held her cat and hugged her. "I mean she's been on two different websites already, Ripley's profiled her in their comic strip, and now someone by the name of Chad Arment has done a brief write up about her for his Strangeark newsletter. Now, my daughter is writing up a little comic book about her. So who knows what the future will hold for her."

Who knows indeed. When asked about all of this attention, Five Toes just had this to say, "Meow," followed by a purr before she stuck out both tongues. It looks like Five Toes just may give Spongebob a run for his money.

Five Toes resides in the home of her owners, Delores and William Whittington, in Dobson, Norht Carolina. She is a registered Household Pet Cat through the United Feline Organization out of Bradenton, Florida and is a Burmese mix. Her favorite activities are playing with her cat toys and catnip, sleeping, and showing everyone her two tongues every chance that she gets. Her favorite foods are Special Kitty and Purina Cat Chow in both wet and dry varities. Delores Whittington is herself a homemaker and a business woman. She runs a kennel named "Little Rose Kennels" out of her home where she raises Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dogs and Dalmatians. William Whittington, her husband, is a truck driver by trade who works for Corder Trucking Incorporated out of Ararat, North Carolina.

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