Nowadays, Eskimo Cat’s history faces two questions, could it be a feline breed that lived and extinguished? Or, is it just an urban legend?
Note: This article’s picture is just for reference.
Some people say that the Eskimo Cat appeared throughout the mid-XIX century. In the city of Pittsburgh, in the United States, cats started to become extremely popular, due to the growing necessity of erasing the rat population that threatened the refrigeration plants.
Additionally, people said that the stray cats who started living nearby the refrigeration plants developed phenotypic modifications. These modifications showed in the following generations and bred a robust cat, of dense fur, with a thick and hairy tail.
The features of its face remind of the wild mountain cat, the lynx, since they were big, and ended up on a continuous point in a filament. These physical adaptations in the urban cat phenotype would have allowed these new specimens to have better resistance to the cold darkness, a typical environment for large refrigeration plants. This way, these rodent hunters did their job, and the famous Eskimo Cat came to life.
The New York Times, in 1984, included a report about the famous urban legend of Eskimo Cats, and this article became so popular that numerous local newspaper started investigating as well.
Rumors started spreading towards the scientific community, until a renowned and respected scientific naturalist, Dr. Richard Lydekke, granted an interview in which he validated the story. He analyzed the theory of development and genetic adaptation of felines, explaining their ability to modify the expression of their genes according to the conditions of their living environment. This way, he made the legend possible.
Nevertheless, after a couple of years, subsequent analysis, studies, and discoveries led to the dismantling of this belief. Dra. Ida M. Mellen, a renowned feline expert, through investigations and analysis, contradicted the hypothesis of the “Eskimo Cat’s adaptation”. This hypothesis did not have a clear explanation nor well-established fundamentals, in addition to the unreliable witnesses of the presence of said breed.
Naturalist Brian Vesey- Fitzgerald supported this new justification about the urban legend of Eskimo Cats by writing the book “Cats”. The book included detailed explanations and dismantled the hypothesis of the existence of the Eskimo Cat by using consistent fundamentals, erasing the possibility of an adaptation due to the cold environment of refrigerating plants.
Anyhow, history tells us about a medium-sized feline, of thick body and robust features. The Eskimo Cat also had dense medium-to-long fur that formed a coat that covered its entire body, from head to toes (paws).