WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT – Ginevra Hess is hoping the kindness of strangers will help fund little Gary’s much-needed surgery.
A cat lover is appealing to fellow feline fans for help with astronomical vet bills after taking in an abandoned moggy – only to discover the adorable animal was a hermaphrodite, with both male and female sex organs.
When a local animal rescue phoned veterinary practice manager Ginevra Hess, 48, asking if she could temporarily foster little Gary – a five-week old kitten, found abandoned under a hedge – she happily agreed.
But it soon became clear the little cat was suffering terribly with severe constipation, prompting her to take him for X rays of his colon, after which vets told Ginevra her ‘Tom’ cat looked more like a queen – leading her to rename the animal Garie-Ann.
Further intrigue followed during another routine procedure shortly afterwards, when the vet discovered Garie-Ann had a vulva, a penis and one testicle – making the cat a hermaphrodite.
Ginevra who now calls the moggy Gary again, said: “At the moment, we aren’t sure if he’s a hermaphrodite, or a pseudohermaphrodite – the difference being that a hermaphrodite has fully functioning sets of both male and female sex organs, while a pseudohermaphrodite has both sets, but only one is functioning. There don’t seem to be many stats out there, but I have been working in veterinary medicine since I was 16 and have never seen anything like it.
“I truly feel Gary deserves a chance. He’s the sweetest, most loving little thing. Despite all he’s been through, all he wants to do is climb up in my lap for a cuddle.”
With veterinary bills already costing Ginevra, of Spring, Texas, USA, $1,700 (£1,380) and further expensive surgery needed to look for his other testicle, she has launched a GoFundMe page, hoping animal loving strangers will help her to give the sweet stray a fighting chance.
She explained: “Because he is classed as a rescue, I don’t get discount on his treatments, so the bills – which have all been coming out of my own pocket – have soon mounted up.”
First receiving a call about Gary from the rescue in late November 2019, asking if she could foster him while they tried to find him a forever home, she readily obliged.
But when, within a few days, he became worryingly constipated, she feared he had a condition called megacolon – an abnormal dilation of the large intestine.
Also infested with parasites, it took four deworming treatments to rid him of the horrible pests.
“He was also put on a special diet to help with the constipation, and for a while, that seemed to work – he was perfectly regular,” said Ginevra, who was then astonished, during a scan to check his progress in January this year, when vets announced that Gary was a girl.
“When he was first taken in, everyone thought he was a boy. Three different vets had said as much,” she said. “But during the scan, the vet turned to me and said, ‘I can see a vulva – he is a she.’”
Then thinking the kitten was a queen, or female cat, Ginevra made an appointment to have Gary spayed – removing the uterus and ovaries, to prevent pregnancy.
Shockingly, the vet could not find them, but discovered an underdeveloped testicle, which was removed instead.
Sadly, Ginevra said Gary reacted badly to surgery, explaining: “It seemed to trigger a real downwards spiral in him. He had awful diarrhoea and his appetite just vanished.
“He was on antibiotics, but it took a good two weeks for him to improve and even then, he wasn’t eating as voraciously as usual.”
Concerned, Ginevra tried syringe feeding the cat, but he soon began to vomit.
Taking him with her to work, her colleagues performed another X ray, revealing that he was seriously constipated once again.
“We tried everything. Gary had enema after enema, took laxatives and even had a tube to help get the medicine into his system easier – the works,” she said. “I was bathing him five times a day at one point to keep his behind clean and prevent infection.
“It got to the point where we were on the brink of having some difficult conversations about him and his quality of life, but I was determined to give him one last chance.”
Fortunately, Gary’s toilet habits finally regulated once again – although getting him through the next few days is crucial.
After that, Ginevra is hoping that money raised through GoFundMe can help her with his ongoing care, in case he declines again.
It will also help foot the bill for $3,000 (£2,431) exploratory surgery, to try and find his second testicle and see if any other sex organs – be they male or female – can be found.
Unable to adopt Gary full time, as she already has two rescue dogs, Ginevra is hoping to help the remarkable moggy to find a forever home.
“At the moment, we aren’t sure what has caused all this. We don’t know whether Gary is a hermaphrodite or a pseudohermaphrodite, whether his colon issues are linked, or if it’s all been caused by a birth defect,” she said.
“What we do know, though, is that he will make the most precious companion for somebody. He has been through so much and now he just wants love – something he truly deserves.”
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