Laura "Mom" Bedford, owner of a roadside barbecue stand in Miami, Fla., made headlines in March 1937 when she announced what appeared to be a biological miracle. Her maltese cat had given birth to three kittens and two puppies (aka "kuppies").
Bedford explained, "I didn't pay them any mind when they were born. I was too busy. I just looked in the box under the kitchen sink and saw what I thought were five black kittens. I figured they would be all right."
But two days later, she heard something that "sounded like a dog crying." She examined the litter more closely and discovered that two of them were actually puppies, but they were all being nursed by the cat.
All five of the litter looked very much alike, being mostly black with a few white patches. The kittens were female and the puppies were male. Also, the three kittens each had seven toes.
Reporters called veterinarians to ask their opinion about this unusual birth and encountered immediate skepticism. "Impossible," one veterinarian declared. "It never happened."
However, a local veterinarian who examined the animals was more circumspect. He conceded that the birth of kuppies was "very irregular," but admitted that all five animals looked enough alike to be of one family and appeared to be of the same age. "If it is a hoax," he said, "somebody certainly went to a lot of trouble to match them up."
But within days, three local residents (Paul Dickerson, Lester Womsley, and Valeria Nobles) had come forward to contradict Bedford's story.
Dickerson, who was a plumber, said, "I was right there when the old cat was having 'em. She had five kittens, the three black ones you saw and two gray ones. Someone gave Mom the puppies for the cat to mother two or three days after the kittens were born. She got rid of the gray kittens a few days later."
Veterinarians accepted Dickerson's version of the tale and decided there was no need to do a blood test to determine if the animals were siblings.
Related: "Cat gives birth to puppies" (Nov 2006).
-- "Dog gives birth to a kitten" (June 2007), asiantown.net
- "Cat declared mother of 2 puppies and three kittens." (Mar. 16, 1937). Berkeley Daily Gazette.
- "Cat can't have kuppies, it seems, so another good story blows up." (Mar. 17, 1937). Nevada State Journal.