Here's a sentence you probably never thought you'd read: Mittens, a hermaphroditic cat from Newfoundland, is getting gender assignment surgery. Colleen Clarke-Murphy's daughter brought the stray cat home, and when the family took it to the vet, they were told it has both male and female genitalia, CBC reports. Mittens' dual gender has caused the cat to have bowel and urinary troubles. The solution: Spay and neuter the cat, then assign a gender (the vet recommends male) and give it reconstructive surgery. The cost: $1,500, which a friend is helping the family raise. Clarke-Murphy says it's worth it, because Mittens has been "part of my family" since October.
As Bustle and Cosmopolitan point out, while hermaphroditic cats are rare, gender-related operations in cats aren't as uncommon as you might imagine. Last year, Mother Nature Network reported that some male cats suffering from urinary problems get what's called a "perineal urethrostomy," in which its male genitals are removed and the urethra's opening is shortened to create an opening similar to what a female cat would have. Of course, the purpose of such procedures isn't to reassign gender but to ease health problems, but that doesn't stop some from seeing it as a sex change. And as for a fellow hermaphrodite, last year a Liverpool cat with both male and female parts had surgery to become female. (Speaking of expensive and strange veterinary procedures, here are two stories about goldfish surgeries.)