The Night That Lolita, My 16 Year-Old Female Cat, Became A Man

When I first adopted Lolita from the Atlanta Humane Society in 2001, her name was Princess. She was in a room full of mangy cats, but she seemed very ladylike and elegant; she held herself differently, a Christine Baranski type, who wanted out of this dump. I took her home and gave her the name Lolita, a name she quickly grew into as my friends and roommates would often describe her as a diva. “Lolita really is a Lolita,” a friend once quipped. With her high-pitched voice and frequent demands, it was never hard to imagine her as royalty. Lolita–or Princess Peepers or Lady Lola, as I’d sometimes call her–would clearly be played by Helen Mirren in the movie version of her life.

Last night, Craig’s family was coming over for dinner, and I’d purchased five beautiful pork chops from McCall’s Meat & Fish. I was just bringing them to room temperature when Lolita emerged from her kitty litter crate yowling.

“Something’s wrong,” I said to Craig.

“I’m sure she’s fine,” he responded.

I lifted her up and studied her and saw something that made my eyes pop out of my head cartoon-style. “There’s something protruding from her vagina!” I yelled.

“What are you talking about?”

Craig came into the bedroom where Lolita was on her back on the bed and there, for both of us to see, was this pink appendage with a red tip that kind of looked like a very inflamed, pointy nipple. “OK, that’s weird,” Craig agreed.

It was after 6, so I looked up an emergency vet nearby and then spent 30 minutes trying to find it with Lolita howling in her carrier next to me. After a while, I gave up on that one, and drove to an emergency vet in Eagle Rock where a very kind technician took Lolita off my hands and promised to call me when he knew more.

I sat there in a stupor, deeply upset, waiting for the horrible news. “Lolita has a tumor.” “That thing you saw, it’s unheard of in veterinary science.” “Your cat has a vagina nipple.”

After 30 minutes or so, the tech came and got me and took me into a room.

“So he’s in a lot of pain right now,” said the tech.

“You mean she,” I corrected.

“No,” he looked at me like I was being ridiculous, “it’s a he.”

“You mean that thing–?”

“Is his penis.”

“HIS PENIS?!?!?!?!”

I almost fell out of the chair, I was so stunned.

“But how can that be? I’ve had her…him…for 14 years!! I’ve taken her/him to 8 different vets and they’ve never said she wasn’t a girl!”

“Well,” sighed the vet, “the penis usually just stays up there, under the skin. But your cat is so constipated and backed up, she must’ve pushed her penis out trying to go to the bathroom.”

If I was the type of person to dramatically faint, this would’ve been the moment. “Lolita’s a boy?”

“Lolita’s a boy.”

Health-wise, the cat needed to be “disimpacted” (sorry) so I went back into the waiting room and called Craig. His reaction was bigger than mine. “WHAT?!?!?!?!!”

“I KNOW.”

“WHAT?!!?!?!?!?!”

“I KNOW.”

The shock still hasn’t worn off. I texted everyone I knew who’d ever lived with Lolita. My friend Diana, who was Lolita’s roommate for a year, wrote: “This feels like the end of The Crying Game.” My friend Lauren, who lived with Lolita for two years and who just gave birth, wrote: “I am laughing so hard right now I have tears streaming down my face and breast milk leaking down my shirt.”

So what does the future hold for the former Lady Lolita Roberts-Johnson? We’re experimenting with new names. This morning I tried calling her–I mean tried calling him–Logan, which seemed to take. But in terms of gender identity, my cat clearly isn’t in a crisis, we are. What have we been projecting on to this male cat all this time? Are these qualities, which seemed so inherently feminine in the past, really just a product of our imaginations? Is our cat gay?

We’ll probably never know. But one thing I do know: if you’re about to make pork chops for your in-laws, and your female cat suddenly has a fleshy protrusion from its vagina, that’s not an inflamed nipple. That, my friends, is a penis.

74 thoughts on “The Night That Lolita, My 16 Year-Old Female Cat, Became A Man”

  1. I think he can still be Lolita, we also had a cat that started his life as Samantha but came back from the vet a Sam.

  2. THE EXACT SAME THING HAPPENED TO ME! But the name Olive stuck. Now Olive is just a boy cat with a girl’s name.

  3. Since he’s older, just go from Lolita to Lola. You could consider it an homage to the Kinks song about a similar thing. Sort of.

  4. Brenda Johnson

    We have a female cat named Mike. She got named Mike because I am very bad at determining the gender of kittens. She’s still Mike. I used to have a wonderful cat who got named Adolf (you can guess what sort of facial markings led to that, and no I did not name her) due to a similar error.

  5. Karen in Dallas

    Hahahaha! Glad Lola(r)’s impaction trouble was taken care of and sorry you had to find out that way, but that is really funny.

  6. Tears. So many tears. Hahahahaha! This is the best post ever.

    Congratulations, Lolita/Logan. Your true self (literally) came out last night. Big step, dude.

  7. A rose by any other name….I’m sure if Lolita could talk, he’d say, “Get over it.” Keep the name. Lolita doesn’t mind and eventually you won’t either.

  8. We had 2 male cats named Panther and Star. We always knew Star was male, but with the unisex-ish name and his temperament (cute, cuddly) especially in comparison to his very masculine brother, Star was frequently referred to as female, even by those of us who knew better. It happens. Cats clearly don’t have gender constructs like we do, and could care less. Take the cat attitude of “clearly, such things are completely below me” and keep Lolita. :-)

  9. we still call our parrot Rupert even though she started laying eggs when he/she turned 15. Rupert doesn’t care. Great story!

  10. THIS HAPPENED TO ME!!! I thought my mustachioed tuxedo kitten was a female, so I named her Miette after the bakery in San Francisco. Plus, “she” was just a little thing at the time, so the French word for “crumb” seemed like an adorable fit. “She” had been to the vet, who always used female pronouns about “her” several times. One day, Miette was sitting on the table grooming “herself,” and my husband got an eyeful. Luckily, the cat was still only a few months old at the time, so a few days later after he got the surgery to remove them, he was renamed after his fallen Marbles.

    1. Adam, crying , just crying laughing!!!
      Try feeding him offal from your local butcher if you can get it, should take care of the constipation and his coat will be shiny, shiny. He does look like royalty!

  11. OMG so funny! Years ago my sister-in-law had a cat named Caesar. He disappeared one day and she and the kids mourned and grieved and finally resumed life as they knew it. One day, many years later as they sat by the pool, over the hill came Caesar. He resumed life as they knew it and not until weeks later did a neighbor stop in and recognize him. He was her cat. He stopped in years ago and stayed to have 3 litters of kittens. Caesar became Anne-Marie and lived happily ever after. Two more litters before she gave it up. Love your story. There are people in my neighborhood who still have the offspring or descendants of Caesar- Anne- Marie.

  12. I’m crying! This is the most hilarious thing I’ve ever read. And my vote is to keep his name Lolita. Fire of my loins indeed ….

  13. This made me laugh out loud. I hope I have a non-creepy reason to say “That, my friends, is a penis” in the near future.

  14. On further contemplation, the scenario of not recognizing a male cat for 14 years is only possible because he must have been neutered before you adopted him. Had he been intact, not only would his male accoutrements have been more obvious more frequently, but you’d have smelled tom cat urine. So you are not as densely oblivious as at first it might seem. :)

    Still a great story though.

  15. I know this isn’t the same thing, but I used to be a huge fan of a traditional British singer who was a tall, burly man with a beard. He had a big booming voice, drank beer, and was the repository of a huge repertoire of off color sea chanties. What a shock to discover that he had undergone gender reassignment and was now singing sea chanties {in the exact same voice} wearing a purple lace dress and a long auburn wig.

  16. Kathie Godfrey

    I had the same experience with a black Bombay cat I rescued from the street. “She” was tubby, so my husband and I assumed she was pregnant with kitties. I was carefully looking her over when I spotted the pointy red thing between her legs! OMG she’s a boy! A tubby boy! We named him Piewacket after the cat in Bell, Book and Candle with Kim Novak and Jimmy Stewart. He had 10 wonderful years with us and our other cats and dogs until his kidneys went and we had him gently put down by our vet.

  17. I’m really relieved to say that I don’t think that’s going to happen in our household. We’re pretty sure Huck has always been a boy, although his lil winkle was snipped before we got him — we can actually see the remainder of his gendered appendages. Rosie was a girl of the streets for a year before she came to us, and (having been taken advantage of by some ruffian before she was even a year old) had a litter of kittens, so we’re pretty sure about her too, gender-wise. Your tale (Kitty-tail? Pussy-lore?) belongs in the fabulous category of truth being stranger than fiction, so I too vote for Lord Lolita as the new moniker.

  18. Barbara Conrad

    We have a cat . The cats name is Cow. When the boys from the litter were taken to the vet , Cow and his mom stayed home ,because it was the boys day to get fixed . Needless to say we also have a Lolita situation with our cat. We let him stay Cow and added Boy as his middle name. We have another cat named Mouse who is a boy but not quiet like a mouse either.

  19. ROFLMAO!!!!

    With a long-haired neutered male, it’s hard to see the testicular sacs that remain, and you had no reason to bother checking out Lolita’s anatomy.

    Don’t feel bad, she’s STILL the Lolita you grew to live and slavishly serve.

  20. Glad he’s OK! Loved Diana’s comment! But…….um, did we miss somthing else?
    You wrote “inlaws” and “Roberts-Johnson”……………..

  21. Oh Adam, what a shocker! Lolita! Our Lolita! Your companion. Your friend. Your muse. LOL. I don’t think you need to change his name btw. I had a pet hamster I named Irene before he had grown his visible gonads, and he stayed Irene for the remainder of his relatively short rodent life.

  22. Ben from the 6 Train :)

    This is one of those amazing posts that makes your blog so universally liked. This is an incredibly easy story to share with friends that might not read about food online.

  23. Haha, as a long time cat owner, thanks for making my day! Should add, we adopted a black cat from the SPCA years ago that we were told was a boy cat. Not soon after we found the boy cat was actually a girl cat & she was now in heat. With two other recently adopted boy cats in the home not yet neutered, you can imagine the fun we had!

  24. Very funny post, but I am sure you were panicked at the emergency room. I think Lolita suits him–the vixen!

  25. Reminds me of my first cat whose name originally was Mr. Bill until I got him to the vet and found out that he was a she. It was very early on though, so no identity crisis. She got the nice neutral name of Jabba as an homage to her weight.

  26. I hv always loved your cat. Carry on…he/she is the same. Do not change anything as he/she is obviously attached to you and craig and the way you treat her. A rose is a rose no matter…he/she is a totally awesome queen.

  27. keep lolita’s name. we had a similar expeirence. our cat is trans, clearly. and we’d never think of changing “her” name from “miss pussy”

  28. Hilarious. We rescued a squirrel we named Rockie (for Rocky and Bullwinkle). Had to change that to Roxie when someone knowledgeable about squirrels said, “You’d know if it was a boy. Nothing’s hidden.”

    1. Had to laugh at that. Yes, male squirrels are very visibly male. Front, back or sideways, there’s no mistaking them.

  29. Same thing happened to me. Our stray “female” cat, Ms. Eby turned out to be a Mr. Eby. We found out after the first Vet trip but Ms. stuck too.

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