Cheshire kitten of 'neither sex' a veterinary first
Cats Protection

A stray kitten who was taken in by a UK animal shelter has left veterinarians stunned after they found it was neither female nor male.

The 15-week-old tabby and white kitten named Hope was originally believed to be female when they were admitted by the Cats Protection rescue centre in Warrington.

But, when vets took a closer look at the young animal, they were astonished to come across the extremely rare occurrence of a cat having no external or internal sex organs at all.

According to Fiona Brockbank, Cats Protection’s senior field veterinary officer, it could be down to agenesis which occurs when an organ fails to develop properly.

It’s a case she and her colleagues have never seen before and differs from hermaphrodite cats, which have both male and female reproductive organs – cases of which have previously been seen.

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She explained: “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.

“While this means we don’t have any previous cases [on which] 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.”

Now, the charity hopes to find a home for the unusual kitten which has been described in one Instagram comment as a "Non-Binary Icon". Hope has reportedly captured the hearts of staff and volunteers at both the Cats Protection’s Warrington adoption centre and the Tyneside adoption centre in Gateshead.

Beni Benstead, the Tyneside centre manager, said: “Discovering Hope’s special status has been an exciting time, as none of us has seen this before or is 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.”

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