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article imageScottish Lothian Cat Rescue site receives very rare kitten

By Ken Hanly     Nov 21, 2014 in World
Edinburgh - The Lothian Cat Rescue in Bonnyrigg, Midlothian Scotland received a rare male tortoiseshell cat. Only .04 percent of tortoiseshell cats are male.
Harry, as the kitten is called, came to the shelter after his owners suffered an extreme allergic reaction to the kitten's fur. Nicola Zelent who works at the rescue site said: “It’s very rare to get a male. He’s the first tortie boy we’ve had at LCR in our 35 year history, and he is the first of his kind which our vets have seen too!” A photo of Harry can be found here.
Harry is 12 weeks old already. At first, the vet who identified the gender of Harry was convinced that he should be a Harriet. He said: “When I heard the cat called Harry, I said to the owners, ‘I think that might have to be a Harriet'. I had to change my words when I discovered it was male. I’ve never seen one before and I’ve been a vet for more than 30 years.” Zelent said that males are usually hermaphrodite, that is have the sex organs not just of the male but of the female as well, although they usually are not fertile. It will be 12 weeks before they can be sure. When old enough Harry will be neutered in any event and then will seek a new home. He probably will not have difficulty being adopted given his rarity.
Tortoiseshell cats are usually distinguished from calico or tri-color cats. Tortoiseshell refers to a type of coloring that involves two colors other than white. As Wikipedia describes them: Tortoiseshell describes a coat coloring found almost exclusively in female cats... Also called Torties for short, they combine two colors other than white, either closely mixed or in large patches... The colors are often described as red and black, but "red" can instead be orange, yellow, or cream..and "black" can instead be chocolate, grey, tabby, or blue... A tortoiseshell cat with the tabby pattern as one of its colors is a Torbie. If there are white markings of any size the cats are called calico in the US and Canada, but the term tricolor is often used in the UK. The patterns are not specific to a particular breed. Some people also call the calicoes tortoiseshells as seen in this video of a calico with another cat.
Both tortoiseshell and calico cats are almost always female because of the particular features of cat genetics. A cat's colouring is inherited through the X chromosome. The female has two X chromosomes but the male only one. Through a genetic mutation however a cat can be born with two X chromosomes and a Y chromosome. This cat can have the tortoiseshell or calico coat. This explanation is perhaps simplified and the genetics more complicated as described here.
More about tortoise shell cat, Lothian cat rescue, cat genetics
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