Friday, 15 April 2011

One in a Million

We often use the phrase "one in a million" to describe something rare or even something we just hapen to like very much.

In Jasper's case though, he really is a cat in a million - or according to some statistics - a cat in four million.

Jasper is a very rare thing, a male tortoise shell cat.  Genetics demonstrate that male cats cannot exist (see notes below), but our little Jasper is very much alive and male.

He was found living in the garden of an empty house.  The kind people who found him fed him for several months and brought him to our centre recently.  He will be advertised and then neutered (he is likely to be sterile) and he has been reserved in the event that no one claims him, so he has a new home waiting.

It is such a shame that someone saw fit to abandon him.  In our looks-obsessed culture, we are amazed that something so rare and beautiful isn't prized, and yet, from our point of view, although Jasper's appearance has caused a stir, we would consider any cat to be "one in a million" as they are all unique with different personalities, habits and characteristics.

In cats the colour gene is carried on the X chromosome. Female cats have two X chromosomes so can have colour from both chromosmes, whereas male cats have an X and a Y chromosome, so only one (the X) has the colour gene. So in a female cat, black can be inherited from one parent and ginger (red) from the other which results in a tortoise shell cat (sometimes called calico or chintz). A male cat from the same parentage, having only one X chromosome, would be either ginger or black. Male tortoise shell cats are found to have a mutation giving an XXY chromosome set-up and are usually sterile.