In the U.K. this week, animal shelter vets made a remarkable discovery: they were caring for a kitten born with no sex organs at all.
The homeless gray and white Tabby was named Hope by animal officers at the shelter in northern England and is available for re-homing.
Hope was originally thought to be female when they were handed over to the UK animal charity, but on further inspection, veterinarians discovered it wasn’t female, nor was it male. In fact, the cat was no sex at all.
“This is so rare that there isn’t really a commonly used term for this condition, but it is effectively sexual organ agenesis,” Cats Protection’s senior field veterinary officer Fiona Brockbank told The Guardian. The condition, pronounced a-GEN-e-sis, halts the growth of organs in the embryo and can be fatal or not, depending on the organs affected.
The cat was inspected inside and out.
One-in-10,000 felines display a mix of male and female sex parts, but a cat with no sex organs is unheard of. “There’s an outside possibility of some ectopic ovarian tissue hiding away internally but we think this is extremely unlikely,” Brockbank said.
The 15-week-old kitten is described as “playful” by staff and has endeared itself to vets and volunteers alike. Despite the lack of certain organs, the cat is healthy and litterbox-ready.
Adoption center manager Beni Benstead was already nostalgic for the one-of-a-kind fur baby: “Discovering Hope’s special status has been an exciting time, as none of us has seen this before or is likely to again,” Benstead said.
“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.”