Two heads are better than one and, apparently, two faces are cuter than one. A South African kitten born with two faces is taking the internet by storm.
Bettie Bee, born on December 12th, was one of three kittens in her litter. When her owner noted that she had two faces and that it was making it very difficult for her to feed, she brought her to a nearby cat rescuer with experience helping special-needs cats.
The kitten has a rare condition called craniofacial duplication, where part or all of the facial features are duplicated on the head. We still haven’t pinpointed the exact genetic cause of craniofacial duplication, but geneticists believe that it’s related to the sonic hedgehog (SHH) protein, which is involved in facial development in utero.
Colloquially, cats with this disorder are called “Janus cats,” after the two-faced Roman god of doorways. Janus cats often face difficulties feeding and breathing that shorten their lifespan. But some, like the famous “Frank and Louie” who died in 2014 at fifteen years old, are able to live long, full lives.
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