5 conjoined kittens born at Arizona shelter and discussing possible causes

Today, a month after the event, this story is still all over the news media. It is the story of five conjoined kittens born at an Arizona animal rescue: Little Whiskers Animal Rescue in Maricopa. They were connected by the skin of their belly and one had to lose a leg in order to be removed from the rest of their siblings. It is not hot of the press news but the story is rumbling on, unsurprisingly. I hope they have been successfully separated. I can’t find an update on this at the moment. If you can help please leave a comment.

5 conjoined kittens born at Arizona animal rescue
5 conjoined kittens born at Arizona animal rescue. Photo: Little Whiskers Animal Rescue, Arizona, USA.
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At the time, Little Whiskers Animal Rescue put out a call on Facebook for emergency vet help (see post below). They explained that a few days beforehand a person came into their rescue to surrender a mother and her babies but that person brought more than 29 cats and kittens. One of those cats had a litter of kittens. They had suspected that she was pregnant. They said that the kittens were in a critical condition. They rushed them to the vet and said that five of the kittens were all conjoined “to each other by the skin of the belly. All five of these kittens shared a placenta as well as one very tiny cord!”

They also explained that 2 of the kittens had a conjoined body. They said that they have seen lots of “crazy things but this is probably one of the most [crazy] yet!”

They said that it was a “very big unexpected expense on the rescue and any help would be deeply appreciated! We are fighting for these little ones and Mama to fall through this. It is believed that the cats and kittens came from a hoarding situation. Well, yes, with 30 cats I think we can call that hoarding.


A few days ago we had a person come to our rescue to surrender a mom and babies and…

Posted by Little Whiskers Animal Rescue onΒ Thursday, April 1, 2021

Note: this is an embedded post from FB. Sometimes these stop working over time. If it has stopped – sorry!

Note: videos on this site are typically made by people other than me and held on YouTube servers or the servers of other businesses (not the server storing this website). Sometimes the videos are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened I apologise but I have no control over it.

Causes of conjoined kittens

Sarah Hartwell, helpfully tells us a bit about the causes of conjoined twins. It is classified as a congenital i.e. developmental defect. Genes control embryo development and when they malfunction it goes wrong. Drugs and chemicals can also disrupt development. She suggested that the chemicals might confuse the embryo perhaps by mimicking substances that control embryo development. Studies have apparently suggested that “an organism’s electrical field also plays a part” by deliberately altering its polarity whereupon it forgets which end is which and makes the wrong structures.

Sarah refers to 2 substances which help control the development (1) instructor molecules including Retinoic Acid which is implicated in lower limb deformities and crane-facial deformities and (2) ‘Sonic hedgehog’ – if there is too much of this it causes extra structures to be formed. Depending upon where the excess happens it may result in extra limbs or extra noses. Some chemicals and drugs mimic instructor molecules. Some block instructor molecules.

On the subject of conjoined twins in humans, the Mayo Clinic essentially says that the causes of two possible scenarios are unknown. They say that two separate embryos may somehow fuse together in early development and an alternative is when identical twins stop separating between 13 and 15 days after conception resulting in the twins being conjoined.

It appears that we don’t know exactly what causes this but obviously it is a developmental problem. It also appears that often times the embryos are not born but reabsorbed.

Some more on births

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