A Prague veterinary clinic recently faced a curious case when presented with a male Sphynx cat who was brought in with enlarged mammary glands, reports iDnes.cz.
The diagnosis was not an easy one. Veterinarian MVDr. Martina Načeradská looked for a tumor to explain the swelling of the mammary glands, but found nothing to confirm her initial diagnosis.
Gradually, other causes were also eliminated. Eventually, blood work on the animal revealed something extraordinary: the male cat had estrogen levels so high, they exceeded those of a female cat in heat.
“The lab confirmed an extreme increase in estrogen levels, so high that they were afraid to communicate it,” Načeradská told iDnes.cz.
“They were convinced that it was a measurement error.”
Ultimately, however, the elevated estrogen levels had a clear, if unusual, explanation.
The cat’s owner had been undergoing gender transition therapy, and for the past four months had been receiving the hormonal treatment Lenzetto via a spray that was applied to the body with the hands.
Because the medication was not cleaned from the hands when the owner handled the cat, the treatment was inadvertently transferred to the animal over those months. In essence, the Sphynx had been undergoing gender transition alongside its owner.
“I can not imagine how confused the animal must have been,” said Načeradská.
The treatment may have accelerated because the cat was a hairless breed. The instructions on the drug specifically state that it should not come into contact with a child or pet.
While a form of gender reassignment for housecats is a real thing – some male cats undergo a procedure known as perineal urethrostomy to cure frequent urinary problems – the Prague case is unique, and may be one of the first of its kind reported.
The rarity of the case is attested by the fact that it was investigated by the Centre for Veterinary Education at the University of Sydney in Australia.
Following the diagnosis, the cat’s owner made sure to only handle the animal with clean hands. The swelling gradually went down, and the Sphynx is now doing well.