Monday, April 13, 2009


Ever watched the musical Victor/Victoria? About a woman playing a man playing a woman? I watched it once and emerged totally confused about the whole thing. I'm sure there were clever gags and insider smirks but those were totally lost to me.

I feel just as lost now when I think about Tigerlily.

Turns out that my Tigerlily is not a 'she' but a 'he'!

We'd sent the cat for spaying yesterday morning only to get a very abrupt call from the vet at 4pm. "Your cat... this Tigerlily... did you get it as a kitten or just adopted?" he demanded without much preamble.

I was a bit taken aback because he sounded a bit indignant. Before I could gather my thoughts, he went: "Did you know your cat is a male?!"

After my first "WHAT???" the whole car (we were in the car then, together with the children) erupted in a huge uproar and I could barely hear the man on thel ine. A few incoherent sentences later, we agreed to pick the cat up immediately and get the facts.

"Oy, the vet checked and said it was a girl cat what!!" That was the general shocked and upset mood in the car.

We all had trouble getting our heads around the fact that the 'girl cat' was actually a boy cat in disguise! And all this time we'd been calling her 'girl' and using all the female pronouns! Yikes!!

How could she be a he? She was growing breasts - so said Caitlin. No penis - show me a penis - demanded KH. No balls, daddy don't all boys have balls? Tigerlily has no balls - went Owain. "How can the vet make such a mistake? The very first vet said she's a girl... "(that was me repeating the same line dully over and over again) The only reasonable voice in the cacophony was Isaac's who said: It must be a mistake. Just bring the cat to another vet and get a second opinion.

To the vet we zoomed, all full of anxious questions. Cradling a very drowsy and tranquillised Tigerlily, he showed us the penis, a very teensy pink one that had to be probed and pushed out of the inner folds of the body. He also pointed out the vulva lips, part of the female sexual anatomy, but noted that there was no vagina and no uterus. The vet also showed us the scrotum, two tiny bulges just below the anus. They were certainly not like other adult male cats, whose scrotum hung outside the body. They looked like, forgive me, mangosteen slices instead. And when probed, there was nothing there. No scrotal sacs. It could be that the testicles were undescended but given the cat's age as an adult cat, this did not seem likely. Your cat, he said, is bisexual.

Owain yelled excitedly: We have a gay cat!

No! Apart from being very politically incorrect, that is just the wrong description of his/her condition. The vet said this was due to its mother cat's hormonal imbalances during gestation, that caused this strange development.

A hermaphrodite cat! Who knew?? Tigerlily has joined the ranks of snails, hamlets, earthworms and banana slugs in the genre of homogamy.

The vet was fascinated and said that in all his years, this was the second case he had seen. He took pictures of Tigerlily and her unique anatomy for his personal records. Very rare, he kept saying. But for the record, he said Tigerlily was more male than female. Even so, he could never impregnate other cats because he didn't have the hormones for sperm production and scrotal development. Despite the presence of a vulva (which was how the younger vet was hoodwinked earlier), there were no other female sexual organs - no vagina. So definitely can't get pregnant.

It ended with the vet refunding us the sterilisation fees and telling us that we were 'lucky' - this cat would never exhibit the tomcat-like aggressive territorial behavior of male cats (not enough male hormones) but neither would it get pregnant etc as a female cat. So no need to spay - for the moment. But if the testicles look like they are forming and the cat starts caterwauling, then I've got to bring it back for a second look. But, he said, this is not likely to happen.

We're all still a bit dazed by this development and we all still trip over the pronouns, so used were we to the 'she' and 'her'. And now, there's the big issue outstanding - what to call him? Whoever heard of a male cat called Tigerlily? Fairy stories aplenty! KH, pragmatically said, just call him Tiger. But he's such a gentle cat, certainly far from tiger-like, the name would not suit!

Family meeting tonight for sure - we need to talk about a name for our unique bisexual cat!


Cory said...

won't the cat be confused now if you change its name? *scratch scratch*

Julia said...

This is very funny... you got yourself a rare gem then...:)

Baby-Poppet-Wolfie-Betsy-Babe said...

you know..the cat was probabaly a dude until you guys named it tiger-lily and since then it could not decide which gender it was and started the change....into a how? Cat is still cat...still part of your forever and call it "eternity"! Gender neutral...:P

ee lin said...

hmmm, if the mother cat had 'hormonal imbalances' during pregnancy and had a litter, there might be more than one gender confused cat prowling round your area ....

barbs said...

lol, save money, sounds good to me.