Meet Burrito: The Extremely Rare Male Tortoiseshell Kitten

PetMD Editorial
Updated: September 25, 2017
Published: May 09, 2017
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This is Burrito the kitten, a fascinating and adorable needle in a haystack. That's because Burrito is an incredibly rare male tortoiseshell cat. 

At just 3 weeks old, the abandoned Burrito was brought to the Animal Welfare Association in Voorhees, New Jersey, along with his littermates. During an examination, AWA veterinarian Dr. Erin Henry uncovered an amazing fact about the orange-and-black kitty: he's one in a million. (Well, technically, more like one in a few thousand.) 

"When I turned little Burrito over, I was so surprised," Henry said in a statement. "I’ve examined thousands of kittens while working at AWA, and they are so rare that he may be the only male tortoiseshell I’ll ever see again." 

What makes Burrito so special is due to his rare genetic makeup, the AWA explained. "The gene that controls the orange and black fur color is found on the X chromosome," the association stated. "Females have two X chromosomes while males have an XY combination. This means 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." 

Thankfully, Burrito—who will stay in foster care with his siblings until he reaches 8 weeks and is available for adoption—shouldn't have any developmental issues because of his genes. 

Image via Animal Welfare Association 

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