By Jasmine Kazlauskas and Martin Johnston
A cat owner has been left baffled after discovering her ‘male’ moggie could be a HERMAPHRODITE – meaning he might possess both male and female sex organs.
Ever since he was born, Michelle Smallridge thought her adorable one-year-old cat Jessie was a boy – but now the 41-year-old feline fanatic isn’t so sure.
The cat breeder from Auckland, New Zealand, suspected that Jessie had a hormone imbalance after he began displaying ‘confusing’ behaviour – such as trying to mate with girl cats, but then going into heat like a female just days later.
Jessie had to undergo surgery as a kitten to correct an anatomical issue whereby urine and faeces passed out of the same opening – which has rendered him prone to urinary-tract infections and messy accidents around the house.
Michelle – who owns eight cats and three dogs – said: “Jessie is a really special little cat. He is both a boy and a girl.
“He has a strong urge to be male and has definitely got some testosterone.
“But he is also definitely wanting to be female. So he’s a pretty confused cat.
“When he was born, he seemed really normal. It wasn’t until he went on to eat solid foods that we ran into problems
“We went to the vet who referred him to a specialist. That’s when they found that things were not quite normal.
“I have never heard of this occurring before. I was quite baffled.
“I went on the internet and did some research into it. That’s when I realised it can actually happen but it’s a very rare thing.”
Jessie is booked in for a de-sexing operation in a week’s time, which Michelle hopes will help shed some light onto what sex organs he has – while tissue will be sent to a lab to determine his chromosomal sex.
Jessie’s vet Alastair Coomer estimates that one in 10,000 cats possess elements of both male and female sex organs – and said that mixes of organs in these intersex cats, also called pseudo-hermaphrodites, come in various combinations.
Michelle runs her own cattery from her home and breeds rare ‘miradoll’ cats which she sells for NZD $850 ($778 AUD / £443) each.
The animal lover said her beloved Jessie was actually supposed to go to an elderly woman as a pet after he was born –but she couldn’t let him go because of his health problems.
And despite the ambiguity over his true sex, Michelle said she loves Jessie just the way he is.
She said: “He is a huge social butterfly. He loves going for car rides, shopping and going to the park and playing with the dogs.
“Jessie has always been a different little cat but that’s what makes him so unique.
“I will probably always refer to him as a boy, as that what I’ve always known him as and it’s just stuck with me. I can’t call him ‘it’.
“This hasn’t changed the way I feel about Jessie at all. He is such a special cat and I love him dearly.
“If anything, now he just seems even more special in my eyes.”