CABBITS - RECENT CLAIMS AND HOAXES
Recent and Deliberate Cabbit Hoaxes
Just as the more recent "Chalk River Giant Cat" hoax, there have been deliberate cabbit hoaxes which have fuelled the belief in cabbits.
In 2000, the Jet City Maven reported the following admission of a hoax a half-century earlier. Back in 1951, Stan Stapp of the North Central Outlook read an item in the Seattle P-I commenting on a letter printed in the Canadian "Victoria Times". The letter-writer knew of a woman whose Siamese cat "Bassy" had becom romantically involved with her rabbit "Thumper" and produced a litter of "catabbits". It later turned out that the catabbit breeder was a professional writer well known for her lively imagination. At the time she was in the Queen Charlotte Islands working on a children's book about her cat. However, the incident led to a news hoax which has added to cabbit folklore.
The Outlook's star reporter/photographer was apparently unavailable, so the paper sent a junior reporter known as Li'l Oscar. Several days later, Li'l Oscar returned with a news story and photo having apparently been to Canada where he had interviewed an authoress and photographed a catabbit. He refused to provide any other information in order to protect the informants. The catabbit photo showed an all-white body and ears of a rabbit and the grey furry head and striped tail of a cat. Stapp ran it as front page news under the headline: "Dailies Sleep on Catabbit Story; Li'l Oscar Digs Up Photostatic Proof". The story in the Outlook was picked up by other papers. The weekly Newport Miner asked to run the story as they served a farming community and the picture of a catabbit "would knock our readers reeling."
Presumably the catabbit story fizzled out. The Jet City Maven article did not state whether it was revealed as a hoax at the time, but 49 years after the event, Stapp revealed the truth about Li'l Oscar and the catabbit. Li'l Oscar was a pseudonym used by Stapp. The reporter did not go to Canada. He went to his own home and photographed his pet cat and a pet rabbit. He cut out the head and tail from the cat photo and pasted them on the photo of the rabbit. Years later, in 1994, Dear Abby of the Seattle Times became involved in a controversy dealing with a "cabbit". Abby has sometimes erred by citing urban legend as scientific fact, but this time she correctly explained that a cabbit was a tailless Manx cat. Unlike Abby's cabbit, Li'l Oscar's catabbit had a tail.
One of my correspondents remembered seeing a cabbit on the USA TV show "That's Incredible" in the 1970s when he was a youngster. The creature was described as a cat-rabbit hybrid. Cabbits apparently appeared twice on Johnny Carson's "The Tonight Show" in the USA, first in either 1978 or '79 and again in either 1981 or '82. Such TV segments may well have fueled the myth in the minds of many people of a similar age. Cabbit appearances on TV shows are generally frivolous items designed to entertain, amuse or even to fool the audience; the "cabbits" are usually Manx cats.
In May 2001, I received an email from Josh Berta. In 1993 he was in his freshman year of college in Chicago, when he saw a story on the WGN evening news about a crossbred cat-rabbit. WGN is a reputable news organization, one of the oldest in the country and is the same company that produces the Chicago Tribune. It is entirely possible that the 1993 story was a hoax by the station or that they themselves were being fooled. The story apparently explained that the cabbit was half rabbit and half cat. Breeders were planning to offer them to the mass market as a pet that was more playful/active than a rabbit, but a little less independent than a cat. There was video footage of a person petting a cabbit, and it indeed looked to be a cat front half with a rabbit back half. Berta was stunned by this news story and wrote to his girlfriend about it, drawing a picture of the cabbit on the envelope. Since the story aired, he saw and heard nothing more regarding cabbits. Other people did not recall the story and he began to think he had dreamt the news segment. Unlike many people, he was not worried that cabbits don't exist, but knows that people are being fooled about their existence. It is possible that the news segment was a deliberate hoax, aired purely for fun.
Jacob Anderson, who lives near Chicago, believes he also saw this news report when he was younger. He distinctly remembers watching a news report with his mother about a woman breeding "cat-rabbit crossbreeds". They were white with black spots and the hindquarters looked like a rabbit, they had fluffy little rabbit tails, and elongated ears in a triangular shape with a tuft of hair inside the ear near the skull. If this was the same report that Josh Berta watched, Jacob would have been 13. He remembers being enthralled by the news report and frustrated that his friends think he dreamt it!
In summer 2001, a US talk show (possibly Maury Povich) featured a cabbit story and fuelled the myth.
Another false claim was published on 18th January 2005 by All Wildlife Rescue and Education Inc (AWRE). Along with some photo-manipulated images, the cover story claimed "A few years ago, a good buddy of mine and I were working late into the night with an in vitro fertilization experiment and in the process I confused the container with the rabbit sperm with the container holding the cat sperm and accidentally fertilized a cat ova with rabbit sperm. The Cabbit is the results of said mistake. Cabot the Cabbit was raised with cats and pretty much thinks of himself as a cat despite the facial characteristics and the rear-leg locomotion of a rabbit and when startled he does hop off in quite a hurry. His temperament is that of a pussycat, sweet, adorable and is happiest while curled in a warm lap and if the owner of that lap is willing to brush Cabot, you'll have a friend forever." Were this genuine, it would have been published in scientific journals and verified scientifically - it would be very hot news, not a couple of grainy images and a cover story on a small website. Someone is having a joke at the expense of AWRE organisation!
24 January 2009: Imperatriz, MA, Brazil. Two strange kittens allegedly born to a male rabbit and female cat living in the same house; the Brazilian owners claim the kittens have characteristics of both species. A video circulated, but the kittens are merely Manx-type cats (such mutations can occur spontaneously). Cash-generating/owner-ignorance hoax.
19 March 2012: On the US show "Headlines", Jay Leno featured a classified advert from someone who was offering Cabbits for sale and proclaimed that he had never heard of a cabbit. Whether the advert was a hoax, a scam or a misunderstanding was not clear.
The Power Of Suggestion
Humans don't like loose ends. We are programmed to look for cause-and-effect relationships even when such relationships don't exist. When people see a cat and rabbit attempting to mate, they are likely to look for "rabbity" characteristics in the kittens and more likely to interpret certain traits as being rabbity. If they had witnessed the cat mating with another cat, the same traits would either be overlooked altogether or simply considered "odd-looking". Our cause-and-effect way of thinking and the power of suggestion changes what we look for and how we interpret what we see.
For example, an owner of two cats "with a very strong resemblance to rabbits" wrote that in Cleveland, Ohio, USA there was a man who tried to breed cabbits. The author's black shorthair was later seen in mating courtship with a large, ugly, hopping bobtailed animal with a small face and huge hind legs. The resulting kittens were "rabbit-like": soft-furred, small-faced and made small "bunny noises" rather than miaowing.
If the owner had not seen the "mating", she would most likely have described them as "odd-looking kittens" (and no doubt they are interesting looking kittens), but because the cat had been seen with a rabbit-like animal, the traits were interpreted as "rabbit-like". Soft fur, small faces and quiet noises are all traits which can be found in cats. The kitten's father may have been a large bobtailed cat. In addition, the tale of someone in the area trying to breed cabbits primed the owner to look for rabbity traits in her kittens, perhaps wondering if the ugly bobtailed animal was the result of that breeding attempt.
The idea that a cabbit is a cross between a cat and rabbit is based purely on the appearance of a cat with a genetic mutation which causes slight deformities to the tail, spine, legs and skin. It's not the only myth related to cat crossbreds. Maine Coon cats have bushy fur and their tails are described as racoon-like. Some people naively thought "well if it looks like a racoon, it must be a crossbred between a cat and a racoon" so they put a cat and a racoon in a cage together and hoped for them to produce Maine Coon kittens. All they got was a fight between the two animals.
There are (hopefully anecdotal) reports that "cabbits" have been confiscated from individuals. These were cats whose tails had been cut off and whose teeth, apart from the front teeth, had been pulled out, cats which had been hamstrung to make them hop like rabbits, rabbits whose legs had been broken and stretched and whose toes and ears had been chopped off. Some of the cats had been fed on rabbit food and gone blind from malnutrition. No reputable vet will perform unnecessary procedures, so these cats and rabbits had been mutilated without anaesthesia and in non-sterile conditions by misguided owners in an attempt to manufacture cabbits. To end great suffering, these manufactured cabbits must be euthanized.
There are even claims that "any large pet store" (presuambly in the USA) stocks and sells cabbits for between $500 and $750 apiece. Whatever they are selling, they are certainly not cat-rabbit hybrids. They would not stand up to DNA testing and any genuine hybrids (if they were possible) would be worth considerably more as scientific curiosities and would certainly not be offered as pets! All I have to say on this is that a fool and his money are easily parted. Perhaps the sotres are making a huge profit on regular Manx cats. Or, since no-one has so far provided photos of the stores and the supposed cabbits they are selling, perhaps the $500-cabbit-for-sale is just another urban legend. I would rather like to see those "cabbits" DNA tested - it would make for an interesting class action when cabbit owners discover they don't own a hybrid after all!
The following appeared on an Exotic Pets noticeboard on the web. Adverts like this are either frauds or hoaxes, aimed at gullible individuals:
"6 mo old Lop cabbit for sale. He is a mini lop rabbit tabby cat cross. Is capable of breeding with other cabbits. I'm asking 450.00 for him. I am new to the net and don't have an email address yet so if any one is interested they can just reply on the website and I'll get back to you. Texas Cabbits."
So there you have it. There are no such things as cabbits which are crossbreds between cats and rabbits. They don't exist. Genetic deformities exist which make ordinary cats look like mythical cabbits. A cat which looks like a rabbit is due to a mutation, deformity or birth defect. It is certainly not due to being a cross between cats and rabbits. The only "real cabbits" are the cartoon ones in Japanese anime.
"Cabbit" as Veterinary Slang
Mike Davis emailed me with information on veterinary use of the term "cabbit". The content may come as a shock to those whose vets have identified their cats as cabbits - the veterinary use of the word does not mean cat/rabbit hybrid. Mike writes:
A number of years ago I had a Japanese Bobtail by the name of Buffy...she had approximately 1/3 of a tail and was completely white with the exception of 3 grey smudge dots on her forehead...Interestingly enough with the litters she had (6 kittens in each litter) 3 of the kittens would appear to be "cabbits". These furry little bundles of energy would appear the same, extra-long hind legs like a rabbit with slightly shorter front legs...these kittens were not only adorable, but very attached to humans and their rabbit like appearance was definitely enhanced by the fact that they had a small nub of a vertebrate bone where a tail would have obviously grown out from. Upon this vertebrate type bone there was abnormally long hair in comparison to what covered the rest of the body, giving the appearance of a powder puff tail instead of that of a "normal" cat...The vet had on many occasions made jokes about these offspring being "cabbits" and had so listed them in his own files as such with an annotation of being at least part Japanese Bobtail. I've known all my life that a "cabbit" was an impossibility due to their differences in zoological classification. I asked the vet why he had written this in the files of the kittens and he had a fascinating answer that made some sense when I thought about it.
Since a "cabbit" by description would raise the attention paid to the kittens by such a "status" among his staff, it also brought to the staff's attention that these precious little critters had some special care instructions. Due to the lack of a full tail, the kittens balance was sometime affected. There were particular notes concerning being extremely observant of the feces passed by such animals. Due again to the fact that these kittens didn't have normal connective tissues around the rectum in the sphincter musculature. A kitten that suffered from such a different tissue connection might suffer more often from diarrhea and become much more easily dehydrated. because of this, dietary habits were to be closely monitored so that a proper dietary regime could be verbally passed on to me so that the kittens could remain at optimal health. If walking among these same kittens it was important to realize that they didn't walk the same as other cats, but could hop-stumble sideways and then change direction in ways not normal to other felines. This made the staff more conscious of the fact that these kittens getting underfoot could be more easily injured due to uneven movements that these kittens sometimes displayed. Needless to say, I've kept in close touch with this vet even though I moved from the area and his staff still see these now full grown cats on a regular basis. I still think that his "joke" about these exceptional cats was brought forth in some wisdom. The six kittens have become the instrument of initiation of many a new staffer who have all been asked the same question. "Do you know how to properly care for this cabbit???"
I often receive emails from people saying "I have personally seen a cabbit" or "I have a cabbit" or "cabbits are born but don't survive" or even "My vet says it is a cabbit". What you have is a cat with one or more of those traits which make it resemble a rabbit and a vet with a sense of humour or who watches too many cheap talk shows.
Absolutely the ONLY proof of a cabbit existing in real life is independently verified DNA evidence to prove that the animal you have is a hybrid. If the DNA evidence was real, it would be big news (as big as cloning) and would be printed in scientific journals, nature journals and veterinary journals. This site will not consider any claims of genuine cabbits unless supported by material from reputable, respected scientific journals
Ask yourself these questions: Do you really, honestly believe that any vet would pass up such an opportunity to become famous, and possibly wealthy, from finding a real-life cabbit? Are you so sure of your claim that you are prepared to have a DNA analysis done on your cat or kittens? Do you have independent scientific evidence from at least 2 accredited laboratories and qualified professional genetics researchers (not hobbyists) to support your claim? Have the results been published in a recognised scientific journal? If not, all you have is a delusion.
Regardless of the genetic impossibility, it seems that people want to believe in cabbits (especially with the cabbit characters in popular Japanese anime) just like they want to believe in the Easter Bunny - and they will continue to believe in mythical creatures despite all evidence to the contrary.