What The Hell Is A Squitten?

By John Martin - March 17, 2022

Sometimes you come across something that just doesn’t sit right with you and you have to investigate it further. Such is the case with this week’s Raise A Paw. In trolling the internet one morning, I came across something that I found to be a tad unsettling. So, this week Raise A Paw takes a look at What The Hell Is A Squitten?

Squitten is the term given to them describing supposed cat-squirrel hybrids. But, cats and squirrels don’t mate so please don’t get excited and think that they do – because they don’t. A Squitten is not a hybrid of a squirrel and a cat, sorry.

A Squitten is really the name given to a cat who is afflicted with a deformity and just happens to unfortunately be given a really adorable name.  A Squitten is actually a cat who is suffering from Radial Hypoplasia.

What is Radial Hypoplasia, you ask?

Great follow up question, dear reader. 

Radial Hypoplasia (RH) is when one of the two parallel long bones in the lower foreleg is unusually short or almost non-existent and appears to be attached to the “elbow” of the cat, almost like a stump. While this can happen through random mutation just like any genetic abnormality, RH is way more prevalent than it should be due to deliberate breeding of felines who were born with this.

Also known as Twisty Cats or Kangaroo, these felines also have a long fluffy tail and paws which seem to operate like hands. The genetic mutation converts the dewclaw (think of it as the thumb of a cat) into something of a finger.

The paws  appear that they can hold on to things (much like a squirrel does). Often these meows will sit up on their haunches and can scurry up a tree and when it’s walking, it’s gait is described as “hoppy” much like a squirrel. While it sounds cute, it’s actually due to the fact that it’s front legs are so much shorter so it’s “hoppy” because it’s uneven. 

Crouching on all four legs, like a normally formed cat, ends up putting the cats chest closer to the ground than it would normally be and ends up putting a strain on its spine as well as it’s deformed legs so sitting up on its haunches like a squirrel becomes more comfortable.

Here is the deal: While Squittens are adorable and loveable and worth having as a pet just like any other cat, they are being bred to be deformed and while the name is cute, the idea that these felines are bred for the purpose of their “cute” postures and “adorable” hands isn’t.

Certainly, if they are let go outside of the home, their chances of making a go of it in the real cat world are much less promising then a cat who isn’t hobbling around like a coffee table with a bum leg. So, be thoughtful when choosing your pets and if you are thinking about adopting a Squitten, talk to the seller/person you are adopting it from about how their Squitten came to be – through intentional breeding or happenstance.