AN INCREDIBLY rare male tortoiseshell kitten who was found sheltering in a draughty barn, malnourished and underweight, is now living ‘like a king’ as a pampered family pet.
Alford woman Kelly Bridges took the dishevelled young feline into her family’s care after he was rescued by a local stables two weeks ago.
Animal lover Kelly knew male tortoiseshells were unusual but was surprised when she discovered the full extent of their biology defying rarity after taking him to the vets.
“I knew he was rare because I know most tortoiseshells were female but I didn’t know quite how rare until our vet Frank told me the stats,” she said.
The tortoiseshell gene is inherited exclusively via the female ‘X’ chromosome making males a genetic anomaly, defying odds of 400,000 to one.
Veterinarian Frank Coleman of CF Coleman Ltd in Orby was naturally sceptical of Kelly’s assertion her new pet was a male and astounded when he verified the sex.
“In my 34 years of veterinary experience I’ve only seen one before and having seen one, I was never really expecting to see another as its a once in a lifetime experience for most people - to see another was very exciting,” he said.
The kitten, named Little Ted due to his teddy bear-like nature, has made a good recovery since his rescue, however he is likely to remain small and infertile due to his genetic abnormality.
After his harsh start to life, he is now enjoying the doting attention of Kelly and her family.
“He is already treated like a king, we knew he was never destined to be a barn cat, he needs the home pampering and he is in line for plenty more princely treatment,” she said.