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Tuesday, 1 February, 2000, 12:11 GMT
Ginger was big tom

Cat The condition is known as polyorchidism

A ginger tomcat has made a small piece of animal history. Three-year-old McLeod, who is described as a "silly old bagpuss" by his owner, is the proud owner of three testicles - at least he was.

A veterinary surgeon has now removed them, putting an end to any plans McLeod might have had for an exciting climax to the millennium.

He wasn't really a ladies man anyway - he wasn't in to all that
Owner, Sarah Bales
It is believed to be the first recorded case of a cat with more than two testicles - a condition referred to as polyorchidsm. "I opened up one side and there was one, and I opened up the other side and there were two," said veterinary surgeon Digby Milwright, who had been asked to neuter the animal.

The third testicle was just three-quarters the size of the other two. And fearing it might be cancerous, the vet from Ely in Cambridgeshire, UK, sent all three objects for tests at the nearby Animal Health Trust's diagnostic facilities in Newmarket.

But pathologist Ken Smith reported a trio of perfect specimens. "My part in all this was to confirm that all three structures were indeed testicles," he told BBC News Online.

"The curious thing was that they were all otherwise quite normal. They were all connected up correctly, so it would appear that they would have been fully functional - the cat would have been fertile prior to the surgery."

Literature search

Because neither Smith nor Milwright had seen such a case before, they did a search of veterinary literature. But they were surprised to find no similar case reported anywhere else in the world.

"It's one of these conditions that is extremely rare," said Ken Smith. "It's picked up occasionally in farm animals - particularly in piglets, calves and foals - but to our knowledge, it hasn't previously been reported in cats.

All were in perfect working order
"It's a genetic anomaly - a one in a million chance - which in this case probably had no significance for the animal."

The two scientists reported their findings in the Veterinary Record.

As for McLeod, he seems unbothered by stardom. "He's a very friendly, loving cat that likes to lie on your lap all day," said owner Sarah Bales, who has had the animal since birth.

"He's never been one for outside. He wasn't really a ladies man anyway - he wasn't in to all that. He's just a bagpuss - an old, saggy cloth cat."

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23 Aug 99 |  Sci/Tech
Making a pig's eye of it

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