Vets have been left scratching their heads after an animal charity took in a part male, part female cat.
The unusual feline, named Angel by volunteers at Accrington’s Friends of the Cats, is a hermaphrodite.
Andy Richards, founder of the charity, which fosters stray and feral cats until new homes can be found, said he has never seen anything like it.
Angel, thought to be around three years old, came to the charity when a friend of Andy’s called him to say that a cat had walked into the One Stop Shop on Blackburn Road and refused to leave.
Andy, 54, explained: “Customers kept putting her out but every time the automatic doors opened Angel came back in and sat down.”
When Andy went to pick the cat up, he was confused that he was unable to establish its gender.
He said: “I thought I was just being stupid. On taking Angel for a vet check, the vet informed me, after a long examination, that Angel is both male and female.”
Hermaphroditism is caused by a genetic mutation and happens when insufficient testosterone means a foetus’ testes do not develop properly, and it grows ovaries.
Little white and tabby Angel now has to undergo treatment to assign a gender, as hermaphrodite cats can have health problems. The operation will cost around £1,000, which Friends of the Cats will have to raise.
Andy added: “Angel will have to have blood tests to establish whether she has more male or female genes.
“Whichever she has most of, she will need gender alignment surgery to make her either Arthur or Martha.”
In the meantime, Angel is being cared for by one of Friends of the Cats’ fosterers, Zoe Whittaker, at her home in Burnley, and it is hoped that a permanent home can be found following the surgery.
Andy said: “Angel is a fascinating cat and definitely a first for Friends of the Cats.
“She is an absolutely lovely cat. Whatever it takes, we will move heaven and earth to make sure Angel gets the very best veterinary treatment available.”