The RSCPA in Norfolk rescues more kittens and cats than any other pet. They collected an incredible 22,000 cats last year, equivalent to over 60 felines a day. So, taking on the care of a pretty tortoiseshell cat isn’t particularly unusual.
But for the RSPCA in West Norfolk, they were rather surprised to meet one of their latest residents.
It's a boy
The little tortoiseshell kitten was brought in with its black brother. But what made the tortoiseshell kitten unusual, was not its mottled coat, but it was the fact that the cute kitty was male.
"I have seen hundreds if not thousands of kittens over the years and not one has ever been a male tortoiseshell." The @RSPCA_official have hailed the arrival of a 'miracle' kitten.— ITV News Anglia (@itvanglia) October 30, 2019
Most tortoiseshell cats are female as a result of how their DNA is passed on.
Male tortoiseshell cats are rare (only about 1 in 3000 are male) but if you do happen across one & you're blighted with warts there is an old wives tale that you can cure the warts if you rub them with the tail of a male tortoiseshell during the month of May. #FolkloreThursday pic.twitter.com/stvmhWd2y2— ELijAH BARNS (@ElijahBarnsUK) April 11, 2019
A tortie male is so rare that only one in every 3,000 tortoiseshell cats is male.
He’s a little ‘Miracle’
After they had given him a thorough health check, the staff at the Eau Brink Rehoming Centre near King's Lynn couldn’t quite believe that the little cat was actually a boy.
Penny Skates, Chairman of the RSPCA’s Norfolk West Branch of Trustees shared the story on rspca.org.uk, she said:
“When the cattery staff at our rehoming centre told me we had a male tortoiseshell I just presumed they had made a mistake and I explained to them you just can't get a male tortie. But when I did take a look at him, it was clear we had a little boy and not a girl.”
One in a million
“I have worked with animals for more than 40 years through my work at the charity and I have seen hundreds if not thousands of kittens over the years and not one has ever been a male tortoiseshell,” Penny added.
“He's caused quite a stir at our centre because no one has ever seen a male tortie before - we named him Miracle because to us he really is a one in a million kitten.”
Mystery of torties
Male cats, like humans, only have one X chromosome in their DNA. That means they should be unable to inherit the different colour genes that make up the well-known tortoiseshell colouring.
Miracle and his brother Shadow continue being cared for at the centre until they are ready to be put up for rehoming.