Sebastian, a Hermaphrodite Ragdoll Cat – Reader Suggestions Needed!!

Sebastian, a Hermaphrodite Ragdoll Cat
Sebastian, a Hermaphrodite Ragdoll Cat

Meet Sebastian:

Having 2 Ragdolls already, one age 12 years (Samantha) and one 9 months (Savanna), I was looking for another young cat to be a playmate for Savanna because Samantha was just too old to be interested in playing as much as a kitten wanted to.

Surprise, surprise when one day I found a posting on Craig’s List from someone locally that was GIVING a Ragdoll away

Sebastian
Sebastian

because they were moving to Florida and didn’t want to take it with them. The posting described the cat as a “special needs” cat. I exchanged contact info with the lady and she called me. She advised the cat was a very nervous cat and not very social, and, additionally, was a hermaphrodite. The story went that a friend of hers was a Ragdoll breeder and this cat was in one of her litters. When she took that litter to the vet for the first round of shots, the breeder was advised of the “condition”. Knowing that she couldn’t really sell the kitten as a bonafide Ragdoll, she gave it to her friend that is now moving to Florida. The cat was given no further shots.

I have no idea how the cat was treated, but I do know

Sebastian
Sebastian

that the cat was literally quivering when I went to meet it before agreeing to take it. I have never seen it quivering like that since I’ve taken it in, but he is totally non-social. He (I’ve named him Sebastian, therefore refer to it as “he”) does NOTHING but stay in a corner or a closet or an enclosed fabric cathouse/bed or even in the back of the cabinet under my kitchen sink. No catbox issues and he does eat, but very little. At just over 2 years old, I would think he would do SOME running around, but he doesn’t.

I brought him to my vet and he was given a clean bill of health and his teeth and eyes appear to confirm that he’s in the area of 2 to 2 1/2 years old. My vet had never seen a hermaphrodite and actually took photos for reference. He advised that both penis and testicles are

Sebastian
Sebastian

outside of the body, and the vulva is there too. He couldn’t tell which organ was used for urinating, though. The previous owner never spayed OR neutered this cat and I’ve found some conflicting information on line as to which procedure or if either procedure should be done.

It appears that the cat had no socialization when a kitten at all and I don’t know if he was mistreated at all, but he will just stay in one corner and will not even use the litter box or eat until the middle of the night when there’s no activity going on in the house. I can reach him and pet him and he will now purr for me, but will hiss as my hand is moving towards him. Once I begin petting him, he now begins to purr fairly soon but if I pull him out and try to hold him on my lap, he squirms until I let him down. He is totally non-aggressive though and has never extended any claws to me.

Are there any thoughts out there on socializing this cat? Does anyone have any experience with a hermaphrodite? Are there any special needs? To neuter or not to neuter?? Spay, too?? I know male cats tend to smell and spray and assume that’s one reason to do the neutering.

Any input would be appreciated to help me help Sebastian enjoy his new home.

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Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,

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57 Comments

  1. Poor Sebastian–what a heartbreaking story! I’m so glad he has you and that you are taking the time trying to give him a better life, though. I think Feliway would help (have personally had good luck with it) and I’ve heard positive things about Rescue Remedy, too. Spay/neuter works so well with normal males and females… certainly worth a try.

    I’m sending you both hugs, purrs, and wishing you all the best!

  2. I haven’t had experience with a “special needs” cat of that particular nature but I do have experience with kittens/ cats whom, while “socialized” babies really WEREN’T ….our Tally girl is half munchkin and we have has her since she was 4 weeks old the breeder said she was 6 but she wasn’t and even though we have had her all her life, she is three now, she will barely let me touch her, she runs if you walk so much as PAST her, and likes to sit by the window at night when all the other cats and dogs (one dog she took to as her Mommy when we got her so she loves them) she will eat, but has never ONCE given me head butts and trust me I am a cat whisperer. I stroke her very gently while she is sleeping until she says no more, I ignore her as best I can when walking past her, and I let her come to me if she chooses. I just basically give her her space. Sounds to me like your love for this sweet kitty will be all kitty needs for a happy life at their own pace of growing. <3

  3. Shadie Kaye's Mom says:

    What a beautiful boy! I don’t have any answers for you, seems others have given pretty good suggestions.
    I’m just wondering if the different hormones of male/female combination would make him smell funny. I’m sure even he is aware something is a miss and must be confussing as he cleans himself. Bless his heart … I pray you find the answers and that he continues to progress as he has … maybe his other situation was very stressful and as he sees he is loved, safe/secure in his new home he will become more loving. He looks like he really needs a good hug and ear scratching, even if he doesn’t know it yet.
    We will be keeping Sebastian in our thoughts and prayers …

    Shadie Kaye, de fursibz and Meowmie

  4. Suggestions on socialization. You can try feliway diffusers for help with calming. It is a synthetic copy of your cat’s natural facial pheromone. You can read up on it on their website. It has helped calm a couple of older feral cats that I have. Valarian root and Camomille are two herbal remedies that I have used to calm cats. There is also Rescue Remedy from Bach Flower Remedies. Maybe some of these can help. Good luck, Sebastian on becoming happy in your new home.

  5. Someone mentioned Rescue Remedy (also called Five-Flower Essence; they are the same), and this is a good idea. A few drops in the cats’ water each day will help ease anxiety and fear (both for Sebastien and the existing cats). You can even take it yourself to help ground the pattern within your own body; the cats will pick up on this. I work with a homeopathic teacher with a lot of experience supporting pets, and she also uses homeopathic Walnut in the same way I described using RR. Walnut helps to make transitions easier for everyone involved.

    My best to you all! Sebastien is lucky to have someone so dedicated to his care and well being.

  6. How desperately sad for Sebastien. It makes me so happy that you have taken him in and he is finally getting the love and support he deserves. When we first got Mr Darcy it was apparent that he was not well socialised at all. He was by no means at the level that you have described Sebastien, but for a long time he was very skittish and would run when you tried to stroke him. We learnt that the best thing to do if he was frightened by something (such as a loud noise) was to carry on and not pay him or it any attention. By reaching out or saying ‘oh poor baby etc’ to try and reassure him when he is scared by something, you are reinforcing that there was something to be scared of in the first place. No reaction shows that there was never any danger.
    In time Darcy began to jump up on the sofa to sit with us of his own accord and would then accept a cuddle.
    Fast forward a year and a half and Darcy is now a complete cuddle monster and will cry out for attention, but it was a very gradual process. Much like Rebecca has said above, it was like one day someone flicked a switch.
    Also just to mention that neither Darcy or Sookie are lap cats, if I try to put them on my lap to this day they will immediately scramble to jump off. Perhaps you could also try introducing something at a higher level for Sebastien to explore and hopefully climb onto, cats tend to feel secure if they are at a higher level and it gives them a better view of all that is going on below them.
    Good luck and all the best for a bright future with Sebastien.

  7. Keith Phillips says:

    We had a calico rescue that was believed to be feral. We don’t know if she was feral or just abandoned. Totally not social. It took a lot of time and we have a therapy cat who also seemed to be therapy cat for other cats too. That helped, but what really made a difference was Bach Flower Essences. Most people have heard of Rescue Remedy, but there are more. If you visit the Bach web site, they have a page for pet issues. We used a combination of three didfferent essences, placing drops on freeze-dried salmon treats and giving them to her at least 3 times a day. One was for ‘unknown fears’, one was for socialization, and we used Rescue Remedy. They worked, but it does take time.

  8. I’m with the ones who suggested neutering or both. The hormone conflict might be what is causing the personality traits (many of you know what pms and menopause can do). It certainly wouldn’t hurt anything and may help the personality problem
    considerably.

    1. Definitely something I plan to do. I just have to find someone that is familiar to doing this procedure on a hermaphrodite. I believe they have to neuter whichever sex is primary. How they determine which is the more dominant sex, I’m not sure, though.

  9. Sebastian is a beautiful cat!

    All the advice you’re receiving in the comments is quite sound. Just remember that socializing any cat can take up to three months (in some cases as long as six months). So, patience is key.

    With all my pets (cats, dogs, birds, turtles…) treats are key. It can take a lot of trial and error to find out what works best. Thus far, the most popular treats with my cats have been: baby food (chicken or turkey), boiled chicken, rosemary rotisserie chicken from the store. I’ve, also, been known to give them a couple licks of ice cream or yogurt… but, not too often as it’s not very good for them.

    As for toys… get a peacock feather. Seriously, I’ve yet to meet the cat that doesn’t go insane for a peacock feather. Also, playtime with toys like this can help your cats get used to each other. They’ll be focusing on the toy more than any “strange” cat in the area. Other stick/feather/dancer toys will work, too. But… seriously… peacock feather.

    1. This cat doesn’t show much interest in food . . . so I’d be surprised if treats worked on him, but I will try it. My other two cats just sniff the other way when I try to give them treats.

  10. Monica Swift says:

    My daughter in law bought a full blooded rag doll from a breeder who wasn’t socialized very well to people, but loved other cats, she only had him, so he hid under the bed most of the time, she gave him to me because I have 6 other cats and we figured he would be happier being around other cats, we were right in that regard, as soon as he got to my house he walked around the other cats like they were his litter mates, but he still was very leary of people, he would allow you to pet him if he happened to pass by, but wouldn’t allow you to pick him up, if he thought you were going to pick him up, he would run! I have had him for over a year and a half and just in the last couple of weeks has he actually jumped up on the couch and laid next to me so I could pet him, but when I have tried to put him on my lap he has balked at being picked up, so I being patient with him and allowing him to call the shots.

    1. Thank you for your comments. I think Sebastian will just take a lot of time also, but I do see him making progress. I wish they had gotten him neutered when he was a kitten. I hate to put him through all that just as he’s starting to feel a little bit less frightened.

  11. I have trapped feral kittens and my sister kept one from one of the litters, several went to her Vet that adopts out kittens and cares for ferals. She told my sister to begin with a small room and place the kitty there with a litter box and food (we put him in a spare bathroom). Visit the kitty on a regular basis, and do not allow the other cats near it at first. Play music, and let the kitty feel safe for awhile, and it should not have to fear the other cats for the litter box or he could develop urinary issues, with holding and litter avoidance. This poor kitty will need time to adjust to his new owner and surroundings, it is too much all at once. Once the kitty associates you with food and attention and not fear, I’d gradually introduce him to another room with supervised time. The kittens the Vet socialized, she put them in a large cage, out in the open area of the Vet’s office to get used to noise after awhile, then they graduated to the Kitten room, with volunteers that would come in and hold and play. When we had them for a few days, we had to swaddle them and hold and calm them, and they had just started getting used to human hands. My sister’s kitty Charlie is still very shy and hides when anyone comes to the house but he has bonded with her family and other cats- took some time. I am so happy that you have this poor kitty and are working with him. Sounds like he has had a bad time before you!! Good luck, don’t give up on him and keep us posted!!

    1. Judi Phillips says:

      Thank you for your comments. I am beginning to think that, possibly, when the breeder found out that he was a hermaphrodite and, therefore, not a kitten that she could sell for the usual amount of money, she might have segregated him from the rest of his litter and other kittens she might have had. I don’t know if that’s the case, but it certainly would explain the lack of socialization.

  12. I agree with Nuria. I had a cat who was exactly the same but from abuse. he would just shake and wet himself in the corner from fear. the best tool you need is patience. I kept him in the lounge and blocked off all the hiding places so he would have to sit in the basket as that was the only place in the room he would go. i then would sit next to the basket but not doing anything. after a few days i would just put my hand into the basket but again not try to touch him. every few days i would go a bit closer then to the point of stroking him. once he started purring i removed the basket also. it worked by making him come out of the corner and started to explore while i just sat in the same place all the time. he would then start to come to me sniffing etc. same happened with picking him up or letting him sit on my lap. you take it very slow but you also have to manipulate the environment to achieve the results. feel free to e-mail me for tips and tricks I used but now he is the most confident and loving and soppiest cat who craves attention and cuddles now so it is well worth taking your time.

    1. Judi Phillips says:

      I love your story. Thank you. I am trying to manipulate the terrain where I can but this cat can actually open closet doors!!! And he opened the door to my kitchen cabinet and hid under the sink a few times. I’d have never found him if it hadn’t been that I had a plumber there that day and as he was on his back working under my sink, he felt fur on his head!! Imagine that feeling??? I have no idea how he got that door open. He does let me hold him, but hisses as I reach for him. Once I start petting him, he now does purr though and was even responding to my touch by rubbing his head one way and the other in the palm of my hand . . . . . so I think it will just take a lot of time.

  13. katmandolino says:

    He just needs lots of patience and love. Nuria mentioned ‘Feliway’ diffusers and I agree with this. I have found that they work for most cats, in a variety of situations, including introducing new cats to the home and to calm them if there is outside disturbance (fireworks etc.). ‘Feliway’ contains synthetic pheremones that mimic those of a cat’s cheek scent glands, and it will help Sebastian to feel more secure, as your home will smell more ‘catty’ to him. You will not notice any smell. Neutering may help, as his hormones may be confusing him.

    1. Judi Phillips says:

      This is something I definitely have to look into . .. never heard of them before. Thank you.

  14. Should not make a difference if he’s hermaphrodite or not, my friend’s cat was and he behaved just like any other cat! I’d suggest a lot of interactive play (with treats!) and maybe clicker training to bring him out of his shell! And be patience, you don’t know what happened on his previous life, maybe he just needs some time to adapt and feel safe

    1. Aside from the sex issue, which I have no personal experience with, I would advise patience, patience, patience. I adopted a fearful cat who loved me and my boyfriend but ran & hid when anyone else so much as walked by the front door. After about 4 years she started interacting with new people and now is willing to come meet most strangers. (But she was not so much of an “issue” because she always liked us, so we didn’t do anything to encourage her to talk to other people.) We also tamed a feral cat – he went from being completely wild to friendly, but it took about 9 months of gentle approaches, feeding canned food and careful socialization. One day it was like he flipped a switch; he walked in the kitchen with his tail up and started rubbing against my boyfriend’s legs. After that, once he got used to living in a house with people, he was the most loving and friendly cat you could ever ask for!

    2. Judi Phillips says:

      I think you may be right with him just needing time. He plays with nothing, though, but I haven’t tried a clicker. He eats very little so I don’t know if treats would inspire him at all, but I will definitely try. Thanks for your input.

    3. Judi Phillips says:

      Bea, somehow my reply to you got posted to the next comment . . . I’m amazed at how much feedback I’m getting.

    4. What is clicker training>

  15. Hayden rae says:

    I have a friend that raises and breed ragdolls. I will ask her if she knows of any special care for your new baby. The special one’s always go to special people. Give him as much time as he needs. I would personally make him a special place for his litter box. I would think the rest will come in time. I think that if it were going to be a problem that the momma would have eaten him but she didn’t. So I would think that he just needs special attention. He’s a beauty!

    1. Judi Phillips says:

      Thank you for your comments. He IS a beauty. His eyes are almost turquoise. I actually have just moved his catbox to where the other ones are. He had his to himself for this long, but now it’s in the same room as the other three that I have. He seems to be fine with that so far and this morning I actually found him HIDING in one of the other catboxes because I had closed him out of my walk-in closet.

  16. Although I have a dog boarding business I’ve had cats all my life. I’m not sure being a hermaphrodite would have much to do with behavior and disposition other than influencing how other cats react.

    This is what I’ve done in the past with fearful cats. 1. I’ve not allowed them to run into their hiding places by putting them in a room without hiding places. At first, making it a room where the other cats aren’t in but where you may spend a lot of time. The cat will be with you as often as you can be in this place. Do this for a month. No hiding places and you in his presence often. I would then graduate him to room with no hiding places where the cats are. Starting out with a few hours a day, as long as there is no serious fighting. For me, the key is to eliminate hiding places where Sebastian will be separate and alone, it only perpetuates the fear he has.
    I hope you find this helpful. I’m so glad he’s with you, someone who cares for him.

    1. Judi Phillips says:

      What you describe is very much what I have been doing. Thank you for helping me feel that I was approaching this situation properly.

  17. How long have you had the cat in your home? Apart from likely having very little socialization, you have brought a cat into your home that has no clue who you are or what this new place is. You have literally taken him from the planet he knew, to a planet he doesn’t know. I took in a stray 3 years ago. I kept her in my kitchen, apart from my other cats. It took her 3 days to get out of the small pyramid bed she was in to come and use the litter. It took another 3 weeks for her to actually come out of that little bed an walk around. It took a little over a month before she would come out and actually come out and interact with me, allowing me to pet her and have her sit on my lap.

    I currently have another stray, a 9 month old kitten, who never had any human contact. I’ve had her for about a month. It took 2 weeks before she allowed me to put my hand inside the carrier to pet her, and when I took my hand away she’d hiss and swat at me.

    Patience is really the most important thing here. Sit and talk to this little guy in a soft voice. Leave a radio in the room when you are gone. Put some toys out. In time, he will realize he is safe. As you said, you don’t know what his life was like and if he was abused. He needs to learn he can trust you.

    If you can get some Feliway diffusers, put one in the room, and another few around your house. This will help calm him, but it takes around 2 or 3 months I believe for it to begin to work. In the meantime you can use some Rescue Remedy. They have a spray, and you can spray this in the areas he’s in, like on his bed or near where he likes to hang out. This will give a calming effect and may take away some of his nervousness.

    1. Judi Phillips says:

      I’ve only had Sebastian for close to 6 weeks and I really think he’s made some strides. At first I DID isolate him in one room with food and new catbox, bed and some toys. It was over 3 days before any food was missing from the dish but the catbox was being used. After a week I brought my other cats in, one at a time, in my hands and didn’t let them loose . . . just brought them to see Sebastian and he to see them, No reaction on his part, but some hissing and/or growling on my other cats parts. I kept him in that one room for another few days and then just opened the door. He never came out but would move from one corner to another corner or to inside the closet. Finally I got him to run out of the room and the hiding places he found were amazing. Little by little I’m trying to eliminate hiding places. On occasion I will come in the house or room and find him up on a window sill or something and that’s very encouraging. But he still hisses at me when I reach for him, but stops once I have him in my arms. I now have moved his food to the kitchen where the other cats eat, but he has a different corner. And I just moved, gradually, his catbox into the same room as the other three that I have. Thank you so much for your interest and your feedback.

  18. Seems to me like it may be a hormone issue. You may want to look into getting Sebastian spayed and or neutered. I had an antisocial cat that calmed down quite a bit after having him fixed. Best of luck to you and your new baby.

    1. Judi Phillips says:

      He definitely doesn’t need to “calm down” , , , , he needs the opposite. I hope that neutering can shift him into a higher gear. Could it possibly have that effect, too?

  19. awwww poor baby. thank you so much for saving this sweet baby and trying to love and understand him……i’m not an expert at this sort of thing but can post to IHAVECAT.
    Though I don’t know if it’s really his sexual organs that would have anything to do with his socialization issues? Unless other cats acted differently towards him? Animals seem pretty accepting though…usually….

    1. Judi Phillips says:

      I don’t think being a hermaphrodite has anything to do with his anti-social behaviour but I was thinking that, possibly, the breeder — upon finding out that he was what he is, might have segregated him from the rest of his litter or something. My understanding is that they need to be socialized before they are 12 weeks old and that if not, it becomes more and more difficult to socialize them after that age. My other cats just don’t even react to him, nor he to them . . . at all! It’s very strange.

  20. Wow, I’ve never even heard of a hermaphrodite cat, so I’m completely blown away by this post. I can’t give you any advice, but I’m curious and will talk to my ragdoll’s vet. Maybe she will know something, who knows?! I’m hoping you will be given good advice. I’m sure with time Sebastian will learn to be more social.. I really hope he will be happy in your home! He’s very lucky to have found a loving home 🙂

    1. Judi Phillips says:

      Thank you for asking her and I’ll appreciate whatever info she might offer. I hope he’ll be happy too, but I think it’s gonna be a long road.

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