Burrito, a rare male tortoiseshell cat, for adoption at the AWA Paws & Feet Walk/Run

Burrito, along with many other animals, are up for adoption at the AWA’s Paws & Feet Walk/Run

The tortoise beat more than just the hare recently at the Animal Welfare Association in Voorhees. Burrito, a 4-week-old kitten, has beaten the odds by being born a male tortoiseshell cat.

A few weeks ago, a good Samaritan found a litter of three kittens from the community and took them to the AWA. When veterinarian Dr. Erin Henry examined them, she was surprised to discover the orange and black kitten was a boy.

There is about a one in 3,000 chance for a tortoiseshell cat to be a male.

“Being a male tortoiseshell cat is so special because the black coloring and orange coloring are determined by one spot on the X chromosome. Females are genetically XX — so it is easy for them to be a calico or a torti. A male is typically XY, so for a male cat to be a tortoiseshell or a calico, he needs to have an extra X chromosome, or have a genetic mutation,” Henry said.

The genetic mutation causing Burrito and other male tortoiseshells is a random genetic mutation.

“When I turned little Burrito over, I was so surprised,” Henry said. “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.”

Having an extra chromosome does not cause other developmental issues in cats, though they are usually sterile. This won’t affect Burrito, however, because all cats and dogs that are adopted through AWA are spayed and neutered before moving on to their new, loving homes.

Burrito and his two littermates are living with an AWA volunteer, gaining weight and getting lots of love. When they are 8 weeks old, they will be placed up for adoption. People from Florida to Canada want to give Burrito a loving home once he’s ready, so he will definitely find his happy ending.

In fact, Maria Clarke, director of events, business and community relations, thinks Burrito will be the first to be adopted during the AWA’s upcoming Raining Cats promo.

Not all animals are so lucky, however. There are many others up for adoption at the AWA. The organization has set a goal of having 300 lives saved during the event, which runs from June 1 to July 31. According to AWA officials, this time of year is kitten season, which means the shelter is flooded with homeless kittens. Having extra kittens around takes attention away from adult cats, and they could therefore spend a longer period of time at the shelter. The Raining Cats event offers people reduced adoption fees to help these cats find their forever homes. Adult cats over 6 months can be adopted for a $25 fee, and kittens 6 months and under have $50 fees.

Burrito and his friends will be making an appearance at this year’s Paws & Feet Walk/Run, held this Saturday, May 20. The event will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Eastern High School soccer field, and is their largest fundraiser of the year. The 5K walk and run will kick off the event, along with a Smile Mile fun walk.

“Four legged family members are welcome to join,” Clarke said.

This year, the AWA has set a goal of $100,000, which will cover the cost of the 2,400 adopted animals’, like Burrito’s, medical care.

“If we don’t meet that goal, we can’t save as many lives as we want to,” Clarke said.

Paws & Feet was a success last year, with people and pets alike enjoying the various events, such as Canine Candy Land, doggie pools and a signature Barktini Bar.

Those events will be featured again this year, along with Doggie Day Demos, two 35-minute shows put on by Janie Harris and her dogs, where they show off tricks, freestyle dancing, agility and more. There will also be live music, costume and look-alike contests, peanut butter eating contests, hot dog bobbing, doggie kissing booth and a signature doggie ice cream bar is to be unveiled new this year where people can make sundaes for their dogs.

There will also be many kids activities and vendors. Children can make enrichment toys for the animals or view the artwork displayed at the art tent, which will be housing the artwork for this year’s theme of “Every Pet Needs a Hero.” The top 50 submissions will be displayed with ribbons. Also featured will be a bouncy house, face painting and a stilt walker.

Vendors such as Lularoe, Thirty One, Tastefully Simple, Premier Design Jewelry, Rhodan and Fields, Origami Al, and Brandywine Living at Voorhees will be among the local representation. Food this year will feature old favorites such as J-Dogs and Brother Bear’s BBQ and new vendors such as Mary’s Mobile Diner and Not Your Mama’s Tacos. Additionally, there will be nonprofits with adoptable animals.

The Heat Mobile will also be there raising awareness by measuring how hot the inside of cars can get.

“I’m also pleased to have premier sponsors: the Camden County Board of Freeholders, the Gerald Shreiber Foundation, J&J Snack Foods and the Petco Foundation supporting us this year,” Clarke said.