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Hermaphrodite kitten Bellini stuns vets

Bellini the hermaphrodite kitten Image copyright Cats Protection/PA Wire
Image caption Bellini was found to have both male and female reproductive organs during surgery

A hermaphrodite kitten has left rescuers at a loss over how they should refer to it.

It was initially thought nine-week-old Bellini, who was dumped when just a few days old, was male.

But several weeks later, vets discovered the unusual condition during a routine neutering procedure when they found male and female genitalia.

Adoption centre manager Sonia Scowcroft said it would be up to Bellini's new owners to choose a gender.

Ms Scowcroft, of Cats Protection in St Helens, Merseyside, said she had only ever seen one other hermaphrodite cat in 3,000 animals.

'Cutie pie'

She said: "We have got used to calling Bellini a boy, but really it is up to his new owner to decide what they think is best.

"Either way, he is an absolute cutie pie and will make a really lovely pet."

Image copyright Cats Protection/PA Wire
Image caption Bellini the kitten is looking for a new home

Bellini has a slight heart murmur so will need regular veterinary checks, the adoption centre said.

The animal is ready to be re-homed with Daiquiri, a female kitten born in the same litter.

Sarah Elliott, Cats Protection's central veterinary officer, said hermaphrodite cats "do not frequently occur".

She said: "This may arise through mosaicism - which is when a kitten's cells divide unusually while the kitten is a growing embryo.

"Such mosaicism may result in a cat with either male or female reproductive organs and genitalia, or a pair of mixed reproductive organs and genitalia.

"Bellini appears to be in the last group with a mixture of both."

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