A veterinarian in Kelowna has a very cute — and very rare — new patient.

Dr. Julia Gray with Jacobsen Vet Services is caring for Oreo, an alley kitten who suffers from a rare thyroid condition called congenital hypothyroidism that has left him very small at only about five pounds.

"He came in just as a routine neuter, but just by looking at his physical attributes, I was a little bit concerned," Gray told Radio West host Rebecca Zandbergen, noting his nose had little definition and his eyes were off.

"We decided we needed to do some testing."

That testing revealed Oreo's body wasn't producing any thyroid hormone at all.

Oreo's condition is extremely rare. Gray says the literature only shows about 60 cases of the disorder showing up in cats.

'He absolutely is adorable'

Oreo was found in Summerland by the cat rescue group, Alley Cats Rescue, and had spent the past three months in foster care before coming into Gray's practice.

His long-term prognosis is a good one. Gray says he will need hormone supplements for the rest of his life, and while he's five pounds now, he could gain another three to nine pounds.

Gray will be waiving Oreo's vet bills and taking him home with her for the next four-to-six weeks to observe him, but the long-term plan is to adopt him out.

And since he's a pretty cute guy, Gray doesn't believe that will be a problem.

"He's got quite a broad face with a smushed-in nose. He absolutely is adorable," she said. "He's a little shy right now … it might be a couple of months before he's available for adoption, but he will be available."

For now, Gray wants to keep an eye on Oreo, because he could offer some interesting research possibilities.

He will need dental surgery, because gum tissue is preventing his adult teeth from growing in.

This has never been observed in a cat with the condition, Gray says, but it does happen in humans and other animals with congenital hypothyroidism.

Gray says she and her business partner hope to write a paper based on their work with Oreo that might have some relevance for humans with the condition.

Oreo the cat 2

Now rescued, Oreo relaxes in his new digs at a foster owner's home. (Theresa Nolet)

To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Stray cat in Summerland is very cute, very small and has very rare condition