Nine-week-old Bellini was part of a litter of kittens taken in by the charity’s St Helen’s Adoption Centre in Merseyside in February when they were just a few days old.
The unusual condition was only discovered when Bellini – having previously been thought to be male – was old enough to be neutered and vets discovered female as well as male genitalia.
Cats Protection’s St Helen’s Adoption Centre Manager Sonia Scowcroft said staff were still scratching their heads as to whether to refer to Bellini as a boy or girl – and said they would leave the decision to whoever adopts the black puss.
She said: “When Bellini was checked over on arrival we had no question he was a boy. It was only when he went for neutering that closer inspection by the vet found he had mixed reproductive organs, making Bellini a hermaphrodite.
“I was pretty stunned, it’s so unusual. I have seen over 3,000 cats during my time at Cats Protection and only seen one other hermaphrodite cat. I certainly never thought I’d see two.
“We have got used to calling Bellini a boy, but really it is up to his new owner to decide what they think is best. Either way, he is an absolute cutie pie and will make a really lovely pet.
“Although it would have been impossible for Bellini to reproduce, he will still benefit from having been neutered. Neutering has countless benefits aside from controlling kittens being born – neutered cats fight less, stay closer to home and are less likely to contract serious illnesses.”
Although being hermaphrodite should not cause any health issues for Bellini, he does have a slight heart murmur so will need a new owner who will ensure he has regular veterinary checks.
Having formed a close bond with litter-mate sister, Daiquiri, the pair are now ready to be homed to a new owner together.
Sarah Elliott, Cats Protection’s Central Veterinary Officer, said: “Hermaphrodite – or intersex – cats do not frequently occur so Bellini is one of the more unusual cats to be found. This may arise through mosaicism – which is when a kitten’s cells divide unusually while the kitten is a growing embryo. Such mosaicism may result in a cat with either male or female reproductive organs and genitalia, or a pair of mixed reproductive organs and genitalia. Bellini appears to be in the last group with a mixture of both."
"Whether a cat is hermaphrodite is only normally discovered during very close veterinary inspection - most frequently during neutering. I have heard of cases where much older adult cats are found to be hermaphrodite without their owners ever having had a clue."
If you live in the St Helens area and would like to offer Bellini and Daiquiri a home, please contact Cats Protection’s St Helen’s Adoption Centre on 01744 817 718 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you live elsewhere in the UK and would like to adopt a cat please visit www.cats.org.uk/find-a-cat to view cats in need of homes near you.
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For further information or an interview, please contact Cats Protection’s Media Office on 01825 741 911, at email@example.com, or @CPMediaTeam on Twitter.