He may look like a standard stray cat, but Phinny, short for Phenomenon, is quite different.
Employees at the Escondido Humane Society say that he is a rare specimen and an “once in a lifetime” cat that they have never seen before.
Not until employees were about to spay Phinny did they realize that he needed to be neutered instead. That was when he got his name Phinny.
What makes six-month-old Phinny so different? He is a male tortoiseshell, a tricolor cat. And this is quite rare. Because in the terms of genetics, Phinny is an anomaly.
â€œIn my 15 years of working with animals, this is the first live male tortoiseshell that I’ve ever seen,â€ said Staci Fitzgerald, the society’s director of animal care. â€œHe’s absolutely striking, a real genetic anomaly.
A local veterinarian agreed and said that he has only seen one male tortoiseshell cat in his 23 years of practice.
Tortoiseshell cats, also called torties, have coats with a patchy color combination of black, orange and white. They are mostly always females.
A tortie’s coat is the result of a combination of two forms of one gene carried only on the X chromosome, one of two that determine sex. The coloration expresses itself when one X carrying one form of the gene and another carrying the second form combine. Two X chromosomes equal a female.
Since normal male cats are XY chromosome, a male tortie cat is impossible.
But, a few tortie cats are born with a genetic deformity. They have an extra sex chromosome, an X-X-Y combination. If both Xs carry the gene for tricolor, a male tortie will be produced. Experts say that about one in 3,000 tortoiseshells are males.
The extra chromosome, called Klinefelter’s Syndrome, can also be associated with many deformities. Many cats with the extra chromosome do not have the coloration or develop abnormalities.
Also only one in about 10,000 male torties are fertile. The ones that are fertile cannot produce more male torties.
But, Phinny is reported to be healthy and is developing well. He is looking for a new home and is up for adoption at the Escondido Humane Society.