Tabby-and-white Hope was originally thought to be a female cat when they were admitted into Cats Protection’s care but on closer inspection it was discovered they had no external sex organs at all.
While hermaphrodite cats – which are also extremely rare - have both male and female sex organs, Hope has neither externally nor internally.
Cats Protection’s Senior Field Veterinary Officer Fiona Brockbank said: “We carried out a procedure to look for sex organs but there’s nothing apparent inside or out. There’s an outside possibility of some ectopic ovarian tissue hiding away internally but we think this is extremely unlikely.
“This is so rare that there isn’t really a commonly used term for this condition, but it is effectively ‘sexual organ agenesis’ – where agenesis is the lack or failure of development in relation to body organs.
“This is not something we’ve come across before at Cats Protection. While this means we don’t have any previous cases to base our knowledge of how this will affect Hope in the future, we spent time monitoring this cat to ensure they can urinate and defecate appropriately before they were considered ready for rehoming.”
At 15 weeks old, Hope is very much a playful kitten who has endeared themselves to staff and volunteers at both Cats Protection’s Warrington Adoption Centre, where they were first admitted and underwent investigations, and the charity’s Tyneside Adoption Centre where they await rehoming.
Tyneside Adoption Centre Manager Beni Benstead said: “Discovering Hope’s special status has been an exciting time as none of us have seen this before or are likely to again.
“Hope has been a delight to care for and it is fantastic that they are now ready to be adopted; we know they will bring someone many years of fun and companionship. We would also be extremely grateful to hear updates on our Tyneside superstar.”
Hope has been vaccinated and microchipped and Cats Protection’s insurance partner, Petplan, has confirmed they will not need any special coverage.
To find out more about adopting Hope or any of the other cats at Cats Protection’s Tyneside Adoption Centre visit www.cats.org.uk/tyneside or call 0191 653 1052