'Janus' Rare Two-Faced Cat
What Is a Janus Cat?
A cat born with two faces is known as a 'Janus' cat—named after the Roman God of past and future Janus, who is depicted as having two faces, one looking into the past and one looking to the future.
Janus cats are believed to be born with two faces as a result of the kitten producing an excess of the protein Sonic Hedgehog (SHH) whilst in the womb. The protein plays a role in the formation of the skull and face of the animal during the embryonic stage of development.
It is rare for the Janus kitten to survive and many die within hours of birth and others a couple of days after birth. The poor Janus kitten is not always able to suckle like a normal kitten would and would often be killed at birth by the mother cat.
Janus cats are born with the condition Diprosopia, a congenital disorder where cats are literally born with two faces.
- Diprosopia in cats is an abnormality where a cat's face widens as it develops and then duplicates another face which all happens in the embryonic stage.
- This condition is the result of an excessive amount of a very specific protein called SHH being produced when kittens are still in their mother's womb.
- This condition does not just happen in cats. It is an extremely rare form of craniofacial malformation seen in newborns, human, animal and birds.
- Most babies with this condition are stillborn but there are survivors who go on to live a fairly normal life with two heads.
Another deformity that appears in the Janus cat is a cleft palate which makes it extremely difficult for the kitten to drink and eat. Tube feeding these tiny creatures is a possibility but must be done by an expert as there are risks of choking and aspiration pneumonia through liquid entering the lungs of the cat.
Frankie & Louie
Frank and Louie
Frank and Louie, a Ragdoll cat, was born in Massachusetts in September 1999. The original owner of Frank and Louie had taken the tiny kitten into a veterinary surgery for him to be put to sleep because it is rare for a cat like this to survive. A nurse at the surgery that day decided to take the kitten home with her hoping she could help him. For months, every couple of hours, she bottled fed the tiny kitten until he was 3 months old.
Amazingly, this little kitten survived and went on to live a fairly normal life. He eventually could eat and drink without assistance from his adopted mum. He could only eat and drink with one side of the face as the other face did not have a lower jaw or oesophagus.
Frank and Louie, sometimes call Frankenlouie shared one brain, only two functioning eyes, two noses and two mouths but could only eat and drink from one mouth. He appeared in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2006 for being the longest surviving conjoined twin cats. He continued living for another 8 years and died in 2014 and the age of 15. In the end, he had to be put to sleep because he developed cancer.
Duo was born in November 2019 and was adopted by veterinarian Dr Ralph Tran when she was just a few weeks old. She was born with four eyes, two noses and two mouths that she can eat from. Dr Tran had to hand feed her for the first few months of her life but now she can eat by herself and she loves to eat. Sometimes she struggles with eating because she likes to eat with both mouths.
Dr Trent says that Duo has a big personality and faces many challenges because of her disability. She will probably have surgery to have one of her eyes removed but she is full of life and loves to play with other cats and loves to have her belly rubbed. Duo is now over a year old and loving life.
Bettie Bee a conjoined kitten was born in 2017 with the very rare congenital condition of craniofacial duplication which is when facial features are doubled whilst they are growing in the womb.
Bettie had two mouths, two noses and three eyes instead of the four as seen in other conjoined twin kittens. It was found that her two mouths led to her stomach and she was being fed via a tube. Unfortunately, poor little Bettie Bee passed away just a couple of weeks after birth.
Have you ever seen a Janus cat?
Please feel free to comment in the box below if you have ever seen a Janus cat or any other animal or bird with the condition of diprosopus.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.