Friday, February 3, 2012

Four feline faces...

...but only 2 kitties! Meet the oldest and newest Janus cats (scientific term is diprosopus):

Frank-and-Louie (1st image, video here, more photos here and here)
b. July 2000, alive after 12 years

Marty Stevens was working at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in Grafton, Massachusetts, when local breeders brought in a kitten that had 2 mouths, 2 noses, and 3 eyes. Rather than euthanize the strange-looking little beast, she took him home knowing that he may not survive. Now more than a decade later, she's glad she did. "Every day is kind of a blessing; being 12 and normal life expectancy when they have this condition is one to four days. So, he's ahead of the game; every day I just thank God I still have him." Marty named the cat Frank-and-Louie and nourished him with feeding tubes for the first 3 months to prevent choking. As it turned out, she needn't have worried, because Frank-and-Louie used just 1 of his mouths to eat. A later MRI showed that the other mouth - which has no lower jaw - is not even connected to the esophagus. Both of the cat's noses work, but he can only see out of 2 of his 3 eyes. The middle one doesn't blink, making it appear to stare even when his other eyes are closed. "The condition itself is very rare, and I think that the fact that this cat became an adult, a healthy adult, is remarkable. [T]his cat really has fewer problems than many cats that have very normal anatomies. You can look at a cat like this as either a very strange and bad omen, or you can look at this cat as a miracle," said Tufts vet Dr. Armelle deLaforcade. Frank-and-Louie is in fact a record-breaker as the longest-surviving Janus cat. He has thrived and exhibits the characteristics of his exotic rag-doll breed: soft and silky fur, a docile temperament, and a friendly personality. Because he walks with Marty on a leash and is not afraid of people, strangers often approach him. "It's funny because people walk up to him thinking it's a nice, fluffy white cat and they're walking up with a big smile on their face to pat him, like, 'Oh, what a beautiful cat' and I see a look of horror come over their faces when they actually see his face," Stevens said, laughing.

Harvey Dent (2nd image, video here, more photos here)
b. Jan. 2012, died after 2 days

After he and his wife Amanda Forsythe watched a TV show about a Janus cat, Nash Hand of Port Charlotte, Florida, says, “I looked at her and said wouldn't that be weird if that happened to us?" Well, guess what popped out of their pregnant cat Nene? A male Janus cat! "They simultaneously work together, the two faces. When he eats on one side it looks like he is eating on the other. When he meows it comes out of both sides," describes Amanda. Lungs, respiration, and heart rate were pronounced normal by the vet. But when they sought out advice online, they received only negative comments. The couple were worried that they would not be able to afford the kitten's care if complications arose, but were against euthanizing it. "I am not going to let somebody tell me that it needs to be done. It shouldn't be killed just because it is a little different." Unfortunately, Harvey Dent passed away at just 2 days old.

In the interim between the birth of Frank-and-Louie and the brief life of Harvey Dent, a number of notable 2-faced cats have been born (photos here, scroll down), some of which survived into adulthood:
  • Image b. June 2000
  • Deuce b. March 2005
  • Gemini b. June 2005
  • Tiger b. July 2006
Of Lil'Bit b. Feb. 2007, the owner says, "The amazing thing to watch is that one of Lil'Bit's faces can be asleep while the other one is awake. I have also seen him sneeze out of one side and not the other and blink on one side of his face but not the other. And when he purrs it is like he is purring in stereo."

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