Rare male Tortoiseshell Tabby available for adoption

By Hope Bidegainberry on May 26, 2021

A stray kitten that was brought to Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA (PHS/SPCA) earlier this month has ended up being an extremely rare type of cat: a male Tortoiseshell Tabby.

“Tortoiseshell Tabby cats, known for their black and orange coloring are almost always exclusively female, so we were quite shocked when a Tortoiseshell Tabby kitten who was found as a stray in Redwood City, CA was male,” said PHS/SPCA’s Communications Manager Buffy Martin Tarbox. “At first we couldn’t believe the kitten was indeed male, but after several thorough examinations, much to his dismay, our Veterinarian services staff confirmed he is indeed a male.”

The two-month kitten is named Mateo in honor of the San Mateo County where he was born. Since Mateo was slightly under-weight when he arrived at PHS/SPCA, he was placed in the shelter’s Kitten Nursery until he reached at least two pounds, one of PHS/SPCA’s criteria for kittens being ready for adoption.

Tortoiseshell Tabbies are not a specific breed, but instead refer to their patterned  coat, which is black and orange and reminiscent of the shell of a tortoise. These cats are also known for their sassy temperament often referred to as “tortitude.” Tortoiseshell Tabbies are considered in several cultures around the world to be lucky or “money” cats.

“Mateo is a genetic anomaly since the gene that controls the orange and black fur color is found on the X chromosome. Females have two X chromosomes, while males have an XY combination, meaning that only female cats can have orange and black fur. To be a male Tortoiseshell cat, he must have three sex chromosomes: two XXs and one Y,” according to Tarbox. “We cannot ever recall a male Tortoiseshell Tabby come through our shelter. In 2019, a shelter in England announced they had a male Tortoiseshell Tabby available for adoption and the kitten received international attention. Maybe our local Mateo will become an international superstar too!”

Mateo is a two-month-old neutered male kitten. He’s playful and affectionate. His adoption fee is $120. Potential adopters should call 650-340-7022 to schedule an appointment to meet Mateo.

“But wait, there’s even more. As if one male Tortoiseshell Tabby isn’t enough of a shocker, another one was found in the same area and is currently in foster care with one of our volunteers. He’s named Francisco and should be available for adoption soon,” said Tarbox.

Around the site