A kitten born with a rare defect of having two faces is beating the odds as she recently celebrated her 4-month birthday.
The kitten, aptly named "Duo," was born with a rare birth defect called diprosopus, meaning she has one head, but two faces. Each face has a fully operational nose and mouth and the faces share three eyes. These types of cats are also known as "Janus cats," and they rarely live longer than a few days due to the complications that arise because of their unusual condition.
But Duo is a fighter. Not only that, she has grown into a happy, somewhat healthy, kitten that loves to play just like any other.
The person most likely responsible for her survival is veterinarian Ralph Tran, who became aware of the special-needs feline when a friend texted him about the kitten's mother rejecting it.
Tran told People magazine that he didn't know what to expect when he went to pick up the kitten.
"I really didn't know much about what condition she had," he told the publication. "I assumed she was a typical Siamese twin, but she's not."
Duo required round-the-clock care that began with tube feeding. She was sickly when she was younger and had to be treated for several respiratory infections because she was "snotty and sneezy," Tran said.
But now that she is older, she is getting stronger and better. It has taken longer for Duo to learn typical cat behaviors such as walking, eating and going to the bathroom. Tran said that Duo still hasn't adjusted to using a liter box, so she stays in an enclosed area and uses training pads.
About half the size of a normal kitten her age, Duo has even learned to play like a normal cat.Though Duo is coming along quite well, that doesn't mean that she doesn't experience a little trouble every once in a while. Eating can be especially difficult.
"She gets into conflicts about which mouth gets to eat, because both mouths want to eat," Tran explained.
While she recently experienced an unexplained seizure of some kind, she recovered quickly and seems to be doing fine. She even interacts with the other eight cats in Tran's home.
"She plays with toys now, and she likes to follow the other cats. One cat will play with her; the other cats just look at her funny," Tran said.
She has also learned to recognize Tran and the other cats.
"It was roughly around eight weeks of age, maybe nine weeks, when she started recognizing the other cats, toys, and me," Tran told People. "Now she runs [over] when she sees me."
As Duo got older, Tran realized that one of Duo's eyes was not functional. Because it is a source of infection, he told People that when she is old enough, it will be removed.
For now, Duo seems to be doing fine. Judging from the videos on her Facebook page, she is about as happy as she can be.