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Sumxu

The Sumxu is a curious breed of Chinese cats, of which only stories and tales remain nowadays, since, sadly, it is an extinct animal.

The stories tell that these felines appeared for the first time in 1656, where they are described in a book by a Polish Jesuit missionary named Michael Boym, entitled “flora Sinensis.” In this text, he talks about a white cat with short ears.

Later, with the passing of the years, other references and records of this breed emerged, one of them, very noticeable, was that of Georges Louis Leclerc in his text 4th volume of Histoire Naturelle (1767), where he talked about a domestic cat, a member of many homes, which had funny hanging ears, with a very long fur. However, this description faced the doubt of knowing if it was a cat or if he was referring to the description of some other species of felines.

Then, Bungartz (1896) mentions the Sumxu cat as a feline with dropping ears, assuming he did not require the sense of hearing to live. He also referred to the curious story that this was a very popular cat in China, where it was raised for consumption purposes.

The Sumxu then refers to the name of a Chinese cat, of existence yet to be verified, which was easily identified by its strikingly droopy ears, which is why they also called it a “hanging-eared cat”. This feline was of medium size, exhibited a long fur, and a thick, strong and muscular body, and also possessed skills to move with skill.

These descriptions about the Sumxu are somewhat unspecific since they are known from the travelers’ stories. On one occasion, it is reported that such a cat was taken to Hamburg by a sailor, while another specimen of taxidermy went to a museum in Germany. It is said that the breed served the Chinese both as a pet and as food,  so they were very appreciated and valued animals.

Considering the story about Sumxu cats is uncertain and lacks evidence to prove its existence, in 1885, a writer, Gastón Percherón, explained that the origin of this breed was probably due to a hybrid cross between a cat and a Marta, an animal that is a type of weasel, since the name “Sumxu” was used to identify the yellow-throated marten, and all this confusion with the cat breed would be only the product of a bad translation into Spanish.

This Chinese cat would have modified its phenotype to have “drooping ears” product of an adaptation, as it was a cat that was fed constantly, it did not require the continuous use of its hearing for its survival so that by not training the organ it ended up by atrophy. It is said that in Chinese culture this cat was considered a delicacy that could be enjoyed along with noodles or rice.

The last report that anyone made on the Chinese cat Sumxu, dating from 1938, was intended to explain the mutation of this cat as a similar event to what happened with the Scottish fold.

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