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A rare discovery in the Pictou cat community

Gunther among friends, Chandler, Ross, Rachel, Ursula and Monica.
Gunther among friends, Chandler, Ross, Rachel, Ursula and Monica. - Brendan Ahern
PICTOU, N.S. —

An extremely rare cat has been born in Pictou County.

The distinctive black and orange fur colour is one thing. Phoebe was identified early as a tortoise shell (Tortie) cat. But then, Pictou County’s cat rescue organization brought Phoebe to a vet.

“And the vet told us that, Phoebe is not a Phoebe.”

So, meet Gunther.

Gunther, the rare male tortoise shell cat born in Pictou County.
Gunther, the rare male tortoise shell cat born in Pictou County.

“Calicos are pretty much always females They’re pretty well always females,” said Helen Baudoux, chairperson with the Pictou chapter of Cat-Rescue Maritimes. “But torties are even more rare and to have the male in the tortie is virtually unheard of.”

“We were shocked.”

Let’s talk about chromosomes.

The X chromosome is linked to fur colour. In an XX cat, one X chromosome might carry the colour for orange, and the other for black. That XX, female cat will then have the black and orange fur colour and pattern which people call tortoise shell.

Cats with XY chromosomes will not have this colouring because, typically, they only have the one colour-carrying chromosome. But, if that cat has two X chromosomes, and one Y, then you get Gunther.

And it is believed that, out of all the tortoise shell cats out there, only .03 per-cent are like Gunther.

Left-Gunther with his sister, another tortoise shell cat, Ursula.
Left-Gunther with his sister, another tortoise shell cat, Ursula.

For the last while he has been taken care of by a local CA-R-MA volunteer who did not want to be named.

Gunther has an appetite. Sharing a home with six other foster kittens can be hard for a cat like Gunther who his caretaker told The News was the runt of the litter. So, Gunter gets his food bowl set aside from the others.

But when he’s not eating, Gunther is the first to climb into someone’s lap and likes to be in the thick of it when the rest of his housemates (all named after characters from the TV show Friends) are playing.

Given his rarity, CA-R-MA has been getting a lot of requests to foster Gunther. Fortunately, a home has been found and Gunther will be travelling to his new family soon.

“CA-R-MA Pictou County would encourage people to check out the wonderful kittens and adults cats at our local SPCA in Granton,” said CA-R-MA in a statement to The News.

“Although we celebrate Gunter’s uniqueness, we do want to remind everyone that female cats, tortie coloured or otherwise, can and do have three litters of kittens per year.”

CA-R-MA wants to remind people of Pictou County to help keep the number of homeless cats manageable by looking into the trap, neuter/spay, return service.

“(Trap, neuter, release) is proven to reduce cat overpopulation eliminate needless suffering, and improve the lives of our community cats.”

Cat math
Cat math

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